Photograph by Martyn Thompson Food Styling by Maggie Ruggiero Prop Styling by Theo Vamvounakis

Marbled Halvah

Desserts from Issue 5 – Spring / Summer 2014 – Caravan

Women in ancient Babylon would reportedly eat this granular, potently sweet sesame dessert to preserve their youthful beauty. To that, we say, borrowing the words of Ali Baba from his story in One Thousand and One Nights, “open sesame.”

makes a generous slab

  • 3 oz bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
  • 1 ¾ cups sugar
  • ½ cup water
  • 15 to 16 oz tahini, well stirred
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

  • 1

    Note: Have your ingredients ready to go, because once sugar is at the correct temperature, you’ll want to move very quickly. Melt chocolate in a small bowl set over barely simmering water or in a microwave, heating in 30 second intervals, and stirring between each until evenly melted. Let cool. Lightly oil a loaf pan and line with parchment.

  • 2

    In a small saucepan, gently heat sugar and water with a pinch of salt, keeping temperature low and stirring to dissolve sugar without bringing mixture to a simmer. Once sugar dissolves, simmer until a deep fat or candy thermometer reads 235°-240°F (soft-ball stage).

  • 3

    In another saucepan, warm the tahini, stirring to the bottom to keep from scorching, until just warm but not hot. Stir in the vanilla. Pour into a large mixing bowl.

  • 4

    Once syrup has reached the soft-ball stage, add it to the tahini, stirring just until combined and mixture starts to leave marks when stirred, about 30 seconds. Swirl in melted chocolate to marble.

  • 5

    Immediately pour and press halvah into the lined pan. (Careful, the bowl and halvah will be hot!) Loosely cover with plastic wrap. Cool to room temperature then chill, well-wrapped at least 2 days.