Halva, like this easy tahini pistachio halva, is one of the most famous Middle Eastern desserts. And although it differs from one region to another, the most common variation is this sweet, crumbly mixture made with tahini (sesame seed paste), sugar, and pistachios. I remember eating halva straight out of the container when I was a kid, it's just THAT good. It just has that distinct flavor that keeps you coming back for more.
Halva is usually store-bought, but I'll show you just how easy it is to make your own homemade pistachio tahini halva dessert at home. All you need are a few simple ingredients and a food processor, and you're good to go!
Why I Love Tahini Halva
This dessert is one of the easiest, most unique-tasting sweet treats you'll ever make. It takes about 10 minutes to whip up, uses simple ingredients that are easy to find almost anywhere, and doesn't require an oven. So you only need to let it set in the fridge, and you're done. You can also make this tahini halva up to a week ahead.
It's also super customizable. You can add in some cinnamon, cocoa powder, chopped dates, nuts, or just go with the classic plain halva. It's all up to you.
- Tahini: To make halva, tahini paste is the essential ingredient. It's a paste made purely of roasted sesame seeds, which you can find at your local grocery store (or on Amazon). Another option is to make your own tahini paste.
- Milk Powder: This is just dehydrated milk, and is what holds your homemade halva together. You can use full fat, skimmed, or non-dairy powdered milk. I personally prefer skimmed.
- Powdered Sugar: Also called icing sugar, or confectioner's sugar. You don't want to use regular table sugar or your halva will be grainy instead of smooth and crumbly.
- Rosewater: Optional, but it gives your homemade halva a special perfumed flavor. You'll only need about a tablespoon.
- Pistachios: Also optional, but I love adding a ton of pistachios to my halva. The crunch from the pistachios mixed with the melt-in-your-mouth smoothness of the tahini is just out of this world.
You will also need:
How to Make Halva
Place the tahini, powdered sugar, milk powder, and rosewater (if using) into your food processor. Process until fully incorporated.
In a glass container, add some parchment paper and a bottom layer of chopped nuts. Add the tahini halva mixture on top of the nuts.
With the back of a spoon, press the mixture into the parchment-lined container. Add some more chopped nuts on top. Refrigerate for at least an hour or until it firms up.
Tips and Tricks
- Don't over-process. Only mix until everything is fully incorporated or it will get grainy and clumpy.
- If you add pistachios, sprinkle them onto the bottom of your container and also on top. This will make sure they press into your halva.
- The size of your container depends on the thickness you want your halva to be. I used a very small container (a glass Tupperware) for a thick, tall block, You can spread it as thin or as thick as you like. You can also leave it as is and have it as crumbles.
- Line your container with parchment paper or brush with oil. To make sure you don't ruin the perfect shape of your halva and so it doesn't stick to the container.
Homemade halva will be good for 7-8 days. Make sure to store it in an airtight container in the fridge.
My favorite way to eat halva is to just slice it and have it on its own next to a cup of coffee or tea. Other ways to have it are spreading it on top of a slice of toasted bread or salted cracker for a sweet and savory treat. Or you can try crumbling or sprinkling it onto baked goods like cookies, cakes, and brownies. Get creative with it, the options are limitless.
Although the tahini in this delicious dessert is packed with all kinds of nutrients, it should be eaten in moderation due to its high sugar content.
Halva is made with tahini, powdered sugar, and milk powder.