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Halva comes in many varieties—based on cereals, nuts, fruits, or vegtables; sweetened with honey or sugar; plain or enriched with nuts, milk, butter, or other fats.
"Halva"—best translated as sweetmeat—derives from the arabic for "sweet". Halvas are traditional across a wide range of cultures, spread geographically from north Africa, through the Middle East, the Levant and the Balkans, to central Asia and India.
Sesame halva, halawa or halvah, can carry all sorts of flavours: cardamon, rose water, vanilla, coffee, chocolate, etc.
This page is devoted to sesame halvas, in which tahini—a paste of ground sesame seeds—is combined with honey, or various sugars, to form sweetmeats of distinctive taste and texture.
The confectioners art is to create a wide variety of tastes and textures, as variations on a few essential ingredients—sugars, chocolate, nuts, milk and butter. Ground sesame seed butter, or tahini, provides a characteristic flavour, and its combination of oil and fibre contributes to a variety of novel textures.
Sesame halva comes in many forms. The easiest to make is a simple sesame fudge : add tahini to a cooked syrup of sugar or honey. However, the range of sugar confections, from candy floss (cotton candy) to fudge, from nougat to candy canes, is matched by a range of textures for halva. These result from the use of different sugars, and combinations of sugars—honey , sucrose, glucose, fructose; different syrup temperatures, from soft-ball to hard-crack; different methods of working (pulling, kneading, cooling, stirring); and the addition of secondary ingredients (lemon juice or citric acid; milk or milk solids; eggwhites or other more exotic foaming agents), which affect the texture, mouthfeel and bite of the finished product. The recipes given here provide a few examples of this variety.
Concerned about diet?Don't worry, we have it on good authority that, Halva is good for you!
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