A Beginner’s Guide to Halva

Halvah is a sweet and flaky confection indigenous to Persia where it has been made for hundreds of years. Today, halva is a popular dessert in Asia, Eastern Europe, North Africa and the Middle East. Read on to learn more about what makes this crispity, crunchy dessert so delectable. 

What is Halva?

Halva is a confection made with seeds or grains and sweetened with honey or sugar. Halva tends to be dense with crystalline layers that give it a crunchy consistency somewhat like the inside of a Butterfinger. Grain-based halva is popular in India and Turkey (semolina being the most popular grain), whereas sesame-based halva is more common in Eastern Europe and the Middle east. In other regions of the word halva made with peanuts, sunflower seeds, and other types of nuts are quite popular. 

How is Halva Made?

At its most simple, halva is made by combining hot sugar syrup with tahini (sesame paste). Room temperature tahini is gradually streamed into hot sugar syrup and whisked until cohesive. The mixture is then pressed into a pan and allowed to cool. Different flavors and variations can be made by adding nuts, spices, or seeds to the mixture after adding the tahini. This simple halva recipe is a great introduction to making halva at home. 

Image Credit: Flicker user gsz ( CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 )

Where can I find halva?

There are many fantastic small confectionary companies making halva in the United States. Some of our favorites include Los Angeles based Hebel & Co who ship nationwide; their double chocolate halva is a chocoholic’s dream. We also love Halvah Heaven because they offer lots of interesting flavor combinations. Their Silk Road variety, a Good Foods award winner, laced with white pepper, cinnamon, ginger, and star anise is a warm and spicy treat. For your next celebration why not order an entire halva cake? New York’s Seed + Mill offers an entire six pound halva cake in 19 flavors that serves 45-50 people. 

Feature Image: yilmazfatih from Pixabay

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