Discovering new foods is on top of my list of favorite things to do! And sometimes I don’t have to travel far to do it. During a regular trip to the Whole Foods, I wandered over to the bakery counter to inquire about their honey whole wheat bread loaves . They are one of my favorite breads, and I just love to purchase them as soon as they come out of the oven, and then rush home and spread some peanut butter on a few slices that I devour quickly. While waiting several minutes for the bread to bake, I found myself looking through at the delicious treats the market has on display, when one called halva caught my eye. The friendly girl at the counter offered to cut a little sample for me, and I was thrilled to try a brand new food. If you, like me, never heard of halva before, let me explain. I looked it up as soon as I got home to further understand these delicious treats. They are sweets, but more specifically, tahini- based confections of Arabic origins. Sugar and tahini are the main ingredients; however, there are variations depending on region where they are made or depending upon what else is added to them. I investigated a little more deeply and found videos on how to make halva , and as you can imagine, soon I was ready to try making it on my own.
The light and spongy texture of halva reminded me of a sweet, called Torrone, commonly enjoyed by those among my Italian background. Torrone is a confection typically made of honey, sugar and egg whites with toasted almonds mixed in. They are traditionally consumed during the Christmas season in Italy. I have made Torrone before at home, and it wasn’t an easy task. The results were never close to the original but also yielded a treat that everyone was happy to help consume and critique, while offering suggestions on how to make the next batch. I found that making halva was a similar experience. After a few attempts, I waved the white flag and declared I was an expert at making Tahini Caramel Chews (that’s what my children called them) instead of halva.
This was one of those times where a failed recipe attempt ended up being a whole new creation altogether . Although I didn’t set out to make chewy caramel- like candies, they are delicious and a much healthier alternative to store- bought caramels, actually. The simplicity of it all may catch one off guard, however. There are just two ingredients: honey and tahini. But the secret is in the cooking. Apparently to achieve the spongy consistency of Halva you have to stir continuously and stop at just the right time. I never achieved that point — either I overcooked it or stopped short of the final, perfect temperature. Either way, my results were chewy and not spongy and light like the original halva. I am curious to find out if someone reading this post has made halva at home before and has some tips for me. If so, please add your helpful hints to the comments below. I have not given up and will be trying to make them again for sure!
Tahini Caramel Chews
½ cup of Once Again Killer Bee Honey
½ cup of Once Again Tahini
Add honey to a saucepan over medium heat. Once the honey starts to boil, wait another 3-5 minutes, mixing constantly. Then add in the tahini. Mix well over medium heat for another 2 minutes or so. Then immediately remove from heat and place in a silicone mold. You may also use a baking dish lined with parchment paper. Let the mixture cool for 2 hours before trying one! They are very chewy, just like old fashioned caramels. This recipe, however, is not recommended for young children.