Chocolate Halvah Fudge
I can’t say that I eat halvah all that often. Firstly it is not readily available in New Mexico, and secondly a lot of store made versions of halvah are way too sweet for me. After looking it up to share some details about halvah with you, I discovered that halvah is a traditional dish of many more countries than I thought. I had know it as a Middle Eastern dish, traditionally a sweet comprised of tahini (sesame butter) and a sweetener like honey. Apparently it can also be made with many other nut butters, flours and fillings and is traditional to so many other countries I won’t even list them all here. You can check out wiki if you want to know all the deets.
My favorite experience of eating halvah involved my international travels of 2009. As part of my trip, I visited Istanbul for a few days, exploring the art, architecture, culture and beauty of the city. I loved it, and apart from the difficulty of finding gluten-free options, the vegetarian choices were excellent. I was pretty excited to find helva (halvah) everywhere!
Since I was returning to Rotterdam to stay with friends on the way back from Istanbul, I brought home some helva for them as a gift. Their little girl devoured it! She was so cute, loving each bite, and you couldn’t help but enjoy watching her savor this sweet treat. We got so wrapped up in her enjoyment that we weren’t really monitoring her consumption, and she very quickly hit a sugar high of cuteness, followed by a major sugar low. I will admit I learned my lesson, since I was sharing a bedroom with her at night, and lets just say, I don’t remember either of us sleeping all that well.
It definitely hasn’t kept me from loving halvah though, and I have to say I was excited to come upon this new recipe by accident. I was playing with versions of a Frozen Fudge recipe that my friend Joslyn had created on her blog, and with a few substitutions here and there discovered that I had pretty much made Chocolate Halvah Fudge.
It all started out from reading her ingredients list which included: 1.5 cups cashew butter (or you can use a different butter, like almond or peanut), and I thought, hmmm, what if I tried coconut butter? Would it have too different of a consistency? What if I tried part coconut butter and part…oooh…tahini butter! It sounded great, so I decided to see what came of it. And that children, is the story of the great Halvah adventure!
Maybe it doesn’t sound as exciting to you. I do sometimes get teased for all of the experimenting I do in the kitchen. I can’t just stick to one good recipe, I have to keep trying new versions of it. But how else do you invent something awesome! Like the person who first decided to whip egg whites. I am sure someone was making fun of them for sitting there with a bowl of egg whites and a primitive whisk for a crazy amount of time…but they invented something cool. Hello macaroons!
It does leave room for a lot of cooking blunders, but I guess I just never stopped playing with my food!
Ok, back to the halvah. Did I mention that this is only sweetened with dates? How perfect is that? No more sugar highs (unless you eat the whole pan or something). It is a perfect balance of mild sweetness. And coconut butter. Hello healthy fats! This is pretty much a raw dish as well. When you make coconut butter, there is a debate about whether the blender heats the coconut higher than raw standards, so if you want this to be full-on-certifiable raw, definitely read about your blending options.
All in all…just enjoy this perfect little treat.
Chocolate Halvah Fudge
Place the pitted dates in a bowl and cover with water. Depending on the freshness of the dates they may need to soak for up to an hour. You want them to be soft and malleable.
Drain the dates and hang onto the soaking liquid.
In a food processor, pulse the dates until smooth, adding reserved liquid if needed. The mixture should be creamy.
Next add the coconut butter, tahini and cacao powder and continue to pulse until everything is combined into a sticky/creamy mixture.
Press the mixture evenly into a square pan using a spatula or spoon. The fudge should be about 1 inch thick.
Freeze for about 3 hours.
To serve, thaw a bit, and cut into squares.