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Soft Sesame Halva
- Ingredients: Ingredients
- one eggwhite
- 1½ cups (10 oz.; 280g) sugar
- ½ cup (100ml) water
- juice of ½ lemon, or ¼ tsp citric acid
- flavourings—vanilla, coffee, chocolate, cardamom,...
- 1½ cups (12 oz.; 340g) tahini — beaten to mix in any separated oil
- optional 1½ cups nuts —try pistachios
Halva from Tadjikistan includes both soft and solid varieties, with eggwhites in the soft version. Some of the Tadjiki Halva (or Khalva) recipes also include soap root. This is not normally the European soapwort—Bouncing Betty—Saponaria officinalis, but a variety of different roots all translated as ''soaproot''. These include a root, or perhaps roots, known in arabic as 'erq al halaweh (halawa root), and in Turkish as Çöven Kökü, probably these are the plants known as Levantine Soapwort or Turkish Baby's Breath—they are varieties of Gipsophila, perhaps G. pilosa or G. rokejeka, but G. paniculata L. G. effusa, and G. acutiflia fisch, are all mentioned by various sources. Acanthophyllum sp. is also sold, from Teheran, as white soaproot , expressly for the manufacture of halva. Eggwhites and the various soap roots all serve to lighten the halva. They are added to the sugar syrup so that it can be whipped to a foam (technically, they are used as a frappe), before incorporating the tahini. The bark of the soap tree,Quillaja saponaria—a central American native, also called bois de Panama—has similar properties. All of these—soapwort, soap tree, and the various soap roots—contain saponins, and can reportedly be used to produce halva.
For domestic production, eggwhites are easier to obtain. The method is like that for nougat or italian meringue; the resulting halva is light and soft.
Eggwhite is listed as an ingredient of some Turkish halvas I have bought (together with soy lecithin); others, Arabic, I believe, mention extract of halawa root—yet others include milk solids, which may come from proprietary whipping agents, such as Hyfoama, made from the milk protein, casein, and used in place of the traditional soap root or eggwhite. Some include glucose, or honey, others citric acid, which serves to catalyze the inversion of some of the sucrose to glucose and fructose.
The syrup is hot enough to cook the eggwhite.
Boil the sugar and water with flavourings to a ``hard ball '' syrup (260 °F; 125 °C). Beat the eggwhite until it forms soft peaks; gradually add the hot sugar syrup, beating all the while—do this in a light metal bowl, so that you don't cool the syrup too much.
Add toasted nuts, if desired — they should be warm from the oven. Warm the tahini (I use the microwave) to about 50 °C; 120 °F, and fold the warm tahini into the hot sugar foam. Keep folding gently until the mixture gets too stiff to work.
Pack into suitable containers, cover to exclude moisture, and let the halva rest in a cool place overnight at least.
See also Snack Food R.G. Booth
Concerned about diet?Don't worry, we have it on good authority that, Halva is good for you!
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