Halvah- Yourself Some Candy: Tahini Pistachio Candy

Candy! I want candy!

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That’s me…most of the time.

While I typically discriminate, meaning Chocolate>>>everything else, I do make exceptions. Sour patch kids are at the top of the list. As are Twix. But the crème de la crème has got to be homemade candy.

I think it’s because homemade candy has a certain je ne sais quoi, of which I can’t get enough. It’s the reason that I think speciality candy stores where you can see them mixing and crafting the candy by hand is worth the extra 2, 3, or 100 cents.

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While I have a candy thermometer, I rarely make it at home. Probably a good thing since I don’t need that hanging around the house. However, once in a while the occasion arises and I bust out my extraneous kitchen gadget.  This was one of those times.

Halvah, which means sweet in a lot of the Middle East and part of Asia, is what I’m showcasing today.  I’m not sure authentic this recipe from About.com actually is, but it’s tahini base-a common ingredient in a lot of Middle Eastern cuisine- is what made me go “Hmm…I should make that.”

Glad I did because it’s delicious. While it looks like fudge, it’s more like…hardnened brown sugar in consistency. Does that make sense? The only other equivalent I could think of is that not-fudge-crumbly like maple walnut loaf candy thing. That was the worst description ever, but that’s the  best I got.

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I initially didn’t like this (and when I say initially, I mean when I was licking the warm bowl), but after the recommended refrigerator time, I had to walk away quickly lest I ate it all at once and give myself a stomach ache. The tahini mixed with the pistachios made this one savory but very sweet treat.

Me like. I think you will, too.

Recipe adapted from About.com

Ingredients:

2 cups granulated sugar

1 cup water

1 ¾ cups tahini (sesame seed paste)

1 TB vanilla extract

1 cup shelled pistachios, toasted

Directions:

1. Prepare a loaf pan (8×4 or 9×5) by brushing it with olive oil (remember this is Middle Eastern, so it’s not that weird).  I used the orange olive oil I use all the time and it gave it a nice hint of orange, but regular will work just fine.

2. Place the sugar and the water in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, and stir until the sugar dissolves. Bring the mixture to a boil and insert a candy thermometer. Continue to cook the sugar syrup until it reaches 250F on the thermometer. After it reaches 250F, remove it from the heat.

3. While the sugar syrup is cooking, pour the tahini into a large bowl and whisk it until it is a smooth, homogenous texture without any clumps. Stir in the vanilla extract.

4. Slowly and gradually stream in the sugar, mixing well.

5. Stir in the nuts until combined, then scrape the halvah into the prepared loaf pan and smooth the top.

6. Cover the pan tightly with cling wrap, and allow the candy to set at least overnight. If you have the time, it is better to let it ripen for 2-3 days in the refrigerator before eating. Once set, remove it from the pan and slice it into thin slices to serve.

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