• Chocolate nut halva cake: another great use of tahini. (John Laurie)

Derived from the Arabic word for “sweet”, the term halva or similar is used in countries around the world to refer to countless varieties of nut- or flour-based confectionery. This sesame-based version, popular throughout the Middle East, is from Lebanon and is swirled with chocolate, slivered almonds and pistachios.

Serves
8

Preparation

10min

Cooking

15min

Skill level

Mid
By
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The flaky texture of store-bought halva is difficult to re-create at home because many traditional recipes include a meringue-like substance made from sugar syrup and boiled soapwort roots, however this version comes about as close as you can get. 

Ingredients

  • 220 g (1 cup) caster sugar
  • 385 g jar hulled tahini (see Note)
  • 125 g pistachios, chopped
  • 115 g slivered almonds
  • 100 g dark chocolate (70% cocoa solids), melted

Cook's notes

Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.

Instructions

You will need a sugar thermometer for this recipe.

Chilling time 2 hours

DRINK Osborne Amontillado Medium Dry Sherry, Jerez, Spain, ($13)

Place sugar and 80 ml water in a pan over medium heat. Stir to dissolve sugar, then cook for 4 minutes or until mixture reaches 140ºC on a sugar thermometer. Remove from heat.

Meanwhile, place tahini in an electric mixer. With motor running, immediately add sugar syrup to tahini in a thin, steady stream. Continue whisking for a further 30 seconds or until mixture starts to crumble.

Stir in nuts, then add two-thirds of the melted chocolate and lightly stir to marble.

Press mixture into a greased 20 cm round cake pan, then drizzle with remaining melted chocolate. Using a knife and a swirling action, marble the chocolate on the surface.

Cover surface with plastic wrap and press to compact. Refrigerate for 2 hours or until firm. Cut into wedges and serve with coffee or sherry. Keep refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 1 month.

 

Note
• Hulled tahini, available from supermarkets, delis, health food shops and Middle Eastern food shops, is a paste made from sesame seeds.

 

Also written by Wendy Quisumbing and Peta Gray. Photography by John Laurie. Drinks suggestions by Dan Coward.