Halva/ Halwa is a general name for sweets in the Middle East. You can find tahini halva in many flavors and forms much as like the flour halwa that I showed you before. Tahini halva is pretty much common as a breakfast item, snack or for a quick sweet bite any time of the day.
I grew up to Halawa sandwiches for school lunches and breakfasts, but fell in love and appreciated it more when I was in college. It was my dad's favorite sandwich as well. My middle kid got that gene early on his life and he became obsessed since he was just 5 years old.
Why this recipe works
While many recipes online require you to make a syrup of some sort and use a candy thermometer, this recipe does not. Practical and to the point, very easy 3 ingredients Halva recipe that requires no cooking at all. Just a big ball to mix everything together and that's it. What I love about this recipe is that unlike store bought halva, you can pretty much control the sweetness of the final halva.
- Tahini: of course this is a tahini halva so the main flavor ingredient here is tahini paste.
- Confectioner's sugar: Use powdered sugar and not regular granulated sugar.
- Dry milk: for richness and to hold everything well together and form some sort of dough.
- Vanilla extract: this is optional for flavor. You can also use whatever flavor you prefer, rose water, almond extract, and orange blossom are among the most common used flavors for halva.
- Nuts: this is also optional. Use whatever you have, you can also use raisins.
Note: This is an overview of the instructions. The full instructions are in the recipe card below.
- In a big bowl, combine powdered sugar, dry milk and flavor of choice. Pour in tahini paste.
- Mix everything until very well combined, the texture will be bit sandy. You can test taste your halva at this point to make sure you like it. Mix in nuts if using.
- Brush an aluminum loaf pan, or you can use silicon pan, with oil and sprinkle some chopped nuts at the bottom if you are using.
- Scoop the mixture into the container and press with your hands to mold. Let it set in the fridge or on the counter for 24 hours until firm enough and molded.
- Use a well stirred tahini paste and avoid lumps.
- It is a good idea to sift the powdered sugar before using.
- Halva mixture should be more like lightly wet sand, not too crumbly and not too doughy like bread dough. If your Halva is too crumbly, add little bit more tahini. To check, take some of the mixture and squeeze it in the balm of one hand, if it crumbled and did not hold a shape for even 2 seconds then it needs more tahini. Do not go overboard with tahini though as it will affect the taste. Most probably one cup will be enough.
- Homemade tahini halva is usually softer than the store bought ones. Manufactured tahini halva uses an ingredient that is not available in the market called "Erk Halawa".
- Halva needs to stay in the fridge for 24 hours before serving to firm up.
- If you do not want to use, or can't find, dry milk you'll have to use more powdered sugar to compensate for the dry ingredient. This approach made halva too sweet for our taste. Others use roasted plain flour instead but to be honest I haven't personally tried that, so you might want to experiment in a small amount first.
- Halva is mostly made with pistachios or left plain. I liked making it with walnuts and hazelnut too.
- To make chocolate Halva, add cocoa powder to the mix.
- For flavor, I like using vanilla extract or vanilla powder. Almond extract, orangle blossom and rose water are among the most commonly used flavors as well.
- Make Halva spread by mixing 1 cup tahini paste, 1 cup whole milk, 1 cup powdered sugar, 1/4 cup oil (any light tasting oil or sesame oil), and 1/4 cup dry milk. You can substitute some or all of the dry milk with cocoa powder for a chocolate halva spread. This spread should be stored in the fridge for no more than 3-4 days.
- For a low-carb version: YES, you can make a low carb halva and here is how:
- Combine 1/3 cup (33g) coconut flour
- 1/2 cup (66g) powdered Erythritol or to taste
- 1/2 cup (95g) tahini,
- 1 tsp vanilla extract. When I make this I leave it the freezer for a couple of hours as I feel it does not firm enough in the fridge.
As mentioned before there are two kinds of Halva , flour halva and tahini one. Tahini Halva is basically made of tahini paste combined with sugar. Halva is dense and very rich confections.
Well Halva has sugar and it is considered candy. That's why making your own Halva is a nice thing to control the sweetness and also I've given you a low carb recipe for it above.
Halva tastes like a sweet tahini paste but not in a liquid form. Halva has a crumbly rich texture. If you've had the sesame bars before, it is somehow close to it but not the same texture of course.
You can find Halawa in the Middle East stores and I spotted one at Kroger stores as well. Unfortunately, almost all of the kinds sold here are flavored with orange blossom water which my kid does not approve. Back in the old days, Halawa was not that sweet and was only plain. Nowadays, Halawa comes in all sorts and flavors.
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- 1 cup tahini paste Note1
- 1 cup instant dry milk Note2
- 1 cup confectioners’ sugar Note3
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract or use 1/8 teaspoon vanilla powder
- 1/2 cup walnuts roughly chopped.
- Vegetable oil for brushing
- In a deep bowl combine tahini, milk, and sugar until well mixed. Note4
- Add 1/4 to 1/3 cup of walnuts and fold them in the mixture.
- Brush a container lightly with vegetable oil, divide the remaining walnuts into two halves. Sprinkle one half of the walnut on the bottom of the container, add the Halawa mixture and press down until firmly packed into your container.*
- Sprinkle the other half of chopped walnuts on top and press into the Halawa.
- Cover and refrigerate overnight.
- Scoop into sandwiches directly from the container or turn it into a parchment paper and slice to serve the whole amount.