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Saturday, May 24, 2008

Halvah Shortbread

The Altitude Adjustment Section
There are certain childhood food memories which get better with age — Chocolate covered Halvah is one of those for me. Sometimes we would get a chunk fresh cut from Russ and Daughters on the lower east side of New York and sometimes I would buy it in Manhattan at the corner Korean Deli. Either way, it was all about the texture. Sort of compressed sawdust wrapped in dark chocolate which would always melt all over your hands when you ate it. I also like the marble kind without the coating that had pistachio nuts mixed in. As I child I never knew what it was made of (crushed sesame seeds), but now I am on a quest to duplicate this product. So far no luck, but in the meantime I came across this recipe for Halvah shortbread in the Sundays at Moosewood cookbook and the flavor is really delicious. I think the term Halvah means many different things as some of my experiments come out more like a mucky pudding. I want it dry and crumbly. Many Middle Eastern cookbooks make all kinds of halvah from carrot to semolina but I am on a quest ,so stayed tuned. In the meantime enjoy this lovely cookie!

3/4 cup softened butter
1/2 cup tahini
pinch salt
1 1/4 cup brown sugar
2 cups unbleached pastry flour
1/2 cup toasted pistachio nuts, chopped or ground

Preheat oven to 375. In a food processor, combine butter and tahini. Add salt and brown sugar and blend till smooth. Sprinkle in flour and blending well. Mix in chopped nuts. Dough will be very stiff. Lightly butter two 7-inch pie plates or shallow baking pans. Press dough into bottom of pans about 1/4 inch thick. Bake for 15 minutes and then check every few minutes and take out of oven when dough edges get golden brown. Don’t overbake! While still warm, cut into triangles or squares. Don’t wait till it’s cold to cut, or else it will crumble. Serve with mint tea or Turkish coffee.