Over the last several years, there has been growing interest in Middle Eastern food and even more specifically, Israeli food. Travel and Leisure recently highlighted Tel Aviv cuisine, Bon Appetit’s July cover featured Middle Eastern grilling recipes and heck, even Atlanta is getting a contemporary Israeli restaurant.
As I get older, I find myself wanting to soak up every little piece of knowledge related to my own family’s history. In an effort to get back to my roots, I’ve been going through some older Jewish cookbooks for inspiration, seeing what might catch my eye. Halvah has been on my mind ever since I saw Molly’s delicious pops (and her beautifully crafted words, as well). Halvah is a confectionary treat made differently depending on where you are in the world. It typically includes some combination of sesame seeds and honey or sugar. And as it turns out, halvah is making quite a comeback. This all seems to be coinciding with a growing interest in Israeli cuisine.
One of my closest Atlanta girlfriends loaned me a book published in 1988 called “The Gourmet Jewish Cook” that she inherited from her grandparents, and I found this recipe in a section titled an “Israeli Bar Mitzvah Buffet”. (This section title cracked me up, in itself). Then when I started to do a little research, I read that halvah used to make frequent appearances at Jewish events in the 1950s and 1960s. Cool! You never know when things are going to come back in style. (This justification may or may not lead to my “hoarder”- like tendency to hang onto older clothes. . hey, even Birkenstocks are cool again?!?!)
This recipe is really so simple to put together. Even more, healthy, chocolate and truffle are three words that you don’t typically find in the same sentence. Luckily, these truffles also have things in it that are good for you – like sunflower seeds – but they don’t taste like a health-food dessert. They are slightly sweet from the honey and coconut, slightly salty and crunchy from the sunflower seeds and the tahini just smooths it all out.
I hope you consider giving these a try. Haven’t you heard, halvah is cool again?? 😉
Chocolate Halvah Truffles
1/2 cup tahini
1/3 cup honey
1/2 cup shredded coconut
1/2 cup wheat germ
1/2 cup unsalted, raw sunflower seeds
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
8 oz (2 bars) semisweet chocolate, broken in small pieces
In a large bowl, mix together the tahini and honey. In a food processor, pulse together the coconut, wheat germ, and sunflower seeds until the mixture becomes finely chopped crumbs. Add the cocoa powder and the cinnamon to the coconut mixture and pulse once or twice to combine. Add the mixture from the food processor to the tahini and honey and stir until well blended. Shape the mixture into small(ish) balls. Melt the chocolate in the microwave using a microwave safe bowl. (Or you can melt it in a double boiler – but I think using the microwave is fine). Using your hands, roll each ball in the melted chocolate and place it on a baking sheet lined with wax paper. Refrigerate until the chocolate is firm.