Like cheese, it's not much to look at, but oh! How I could sing its praises. When we were kids, after a long afternoon shopping at Whole Foods (at the time called Bread of Life) we would be allowed to choose a sweet item to enjoy, and I occasionally chose a bar of halvah as a variety from my favored black licorice pandas. I didn't become a bona fide addict until years later, when Trader Joe's started stocking big blocks of the goodness, marbled with chocolate. YUM. Now this textured, hearty sweet is how I had always imagined the Turkish Delights of Narnia, not some oddly flavored bites of sugar coated gummy stuff. I don't even want to know how many pounds of halvah I ate or how many more pounds I would weigh (although it is supposedly a health food!) had Trader Joe's not suddenly and without warning stopped carrying it.
Just browsing online, I see magnificent masterpieces of gourmet halvah that make me suspect that perhaps my experience with shrink wrapped slabs has only scratched the surface of sesame deliciousness. But since the only kind I've found locally is made with sunflower seeds, which has a decidedly more mundane flavor, and since we have a vacation fund rather than a halvah fund, I decided to try making my own.
Start by blending sesame seeds in a machine that can handle them (I used a borrowed VitaMix). Spread the mixture on wax paper, avoiding little hands. If you can get your honey bear away from your (but definitely over a year old) honey, drizzle it on the spread.
Roll the spread in the wax paper, compress it, and pop it in the fridge for an hour or so, if you and your little helper's hands can keep away.
The results were yummy but definitely not the right texture. The seeds are for sure too dry on their own and need to be blended finer (I've already broken the VitaMix once, so I tend to be more cautious these days) and given a little oil plus more honey. A sprinkle of salt wouldn't hurt. And of course some chocolate! A bit of research revealed that achieving the desired texture of the type of halvah I know and love apparently involves heating the honey to specific temperatures and kneading it into the smooth sesame spread. I will definitely be giving this one a try, but in the meantime I'm stuffing my face with sweet sesame goodness. Anyone have any tips? Anyone else enjoy halvah?