Lemon-Maple Halvah with Pistachio and Apricot

This sweet and crumbly confection is packed with nutty tahini, dried apricots, rich maple syrup, and fruity sumac.

Lemon-Maple Halvah with Pistachio and Apricot
Lemon-Maple Halvah with Pistachio and Apricot. Photo:

Jennifer Causey / Food Styling by Chelsea Zimmer / Prop Styling by Thom Driver

Active Time:
35 mins
Total Time:
3 hrs 35 mins
Yield:
10 to 12 servings

Halvah, a meltingly sweet confection with Middle Eastern roots, is often considered something to leave to artisans. However, cookbook author Adeena Sussman’s homemade version is actually quite simple to make. Professionally made halvah is typically sweetened with invert sugar, a thick, stable syrup that gives the confection its characteristic crumbly texture. This version leans on maple syrup for complex sweetness and notes of rich caramel, while giving the halvah a less crumbly consistency. Be sure to use room-temperature tahini, rather than chilled, so it blends smoothly with the boiling maple syrup. And don't beat the tahini mixture on too high a speed, which can cause the halvah to separate.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups pure maple syrup

  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest (from 1 lemon)

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

  • 1 1/2 cups tahini (such as Soom, Al Arz, or Har Bracha), at room temperature

  • 1/4 cup chopped dried apricots

  • 1 1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon chopped raw pistachios, divided

  • 3/4 teaspoon ground sumac, divided

  • 1/2 teaspoon flaky sea salt, divided

  • Cooking spray

Directions

  1. Line a 4 1/2- x 8 1/2-inch loaf pan with parchment paper, leaving a 2-inch overhang on long sides. Set aside. Bring maple syrup, lemon zest, and vanilla to a boil in a small saucepan over medium. Boil, stirring occasionally, until a candy thermometer registers 240°F to 245°F (soft-ball stage), 10 to 12 minutes.

  2. While maple syrup mixture boils, place tahini in bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment; set aside. Combine apricots, 1/4 cup pistachios, 1/4 teaspoon sumac, and 1/4 teaspoon salt in a small bowl; set aside.

  3. Beat tahini on medium-low speed while slowly drizzling in hot maple syrup mixture until mixture thickens and becomes creamy and smooth, like creamy peanut butter, about 1 minute. Add apricot mixture to tahini mixture; beat until just combined, about 10 seconds. Working quickly and using a rubber spatula lightly coated with cooking spray, transfer tahini mixture to prepared loaf pan. Using spatula, carefully smooth top. Sprinkle with remaining 1 tablespoon pistachios, remaining 1/2 teaspoon sumac, and remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt. Let stand, uncovered, until completely cooled and firm to the touch, about 3 hours.

  4. Using parchment overhang as handles, carefully remove halvah from loaf pan, and discard parchment paper. Transfer halvah to a cutting board; cut evenly into 8 (about 1-inch-thick) slices. Cut each halvah slice crosswise into 3 pieces.

Make Ahead

Halvah can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature up to 3 days or in refrigerator up to 7 days.

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