I'm still dreaming about my trip to Istanbul at the beginning of April. One night, we all went out to drink raki and eat mezzés at the most delicious and comfortable spot (Piri Reis Balik... in case you're ever dropping into Istanbul for a visit!) in my friend's neighbourhood. We ordered tons of spreads, little stuffed vegetables, and - of course - dessert to accompany our raki. The dessert was something I had never even heard of before, let alone tried, and it disappeared very quickly as soon as it touched our table.
It was halva, a tahini based sweet, baked to ooey-gooey perfection, hot and fresh from the oven. It was creamy, nutty, and made your entire body warm as you ate it. Before we all left Istanbul, we ran to the grocery store to pick up Turkish goodies. Since I'm incredibly stubborn, I neglected to pick up the store bought baked halva, with the intent on making it all by myself. I regretted not grabbing a pack until I made this homemade version.
It is simple, quick to make, and uses minimal ingredients. The flavour is incredible with the tahini and nut crunch. Baking this treat totally brought me back to that moment in Istanbul, and if I didn't have a big birthday party to rest up for tonight, I would have broken open my bottle of raki, too!
Vegan baked halva - what you need:
- 1/3 cup tahini
- 3 tablespoons maple syrup, agave syrup, or honey
- 3 tablespoons (nondairy) milk
- 1 tablespoon olive oil, optional for an extra creamy version
- pinch of salt (approximately 1/8 teaspoon)
- crushed nuts or seeds (pistachios, walnuts, sesame, etc.) for the top
Vegan baked halva - what you do:
Preheat your oven to 200 degrees celsius (375F) and set aside 2 ramekins. If you choose not to add the olive oil, rub the inside of the ramekins with a touch of oil.
In a large bowl, beat the tahini, maple syrup, milk, olive oil, and salt until creamy and smooth.
Evenly distribute the tahini mixture into the ramekins.
Bake for 10 minutes or until the top is a light brown.
Remove from the oven and sprinkle crushed nuts on top. Allow to cool for a few minutes, but serve hot!
This serves 2, but the recipe can be scaled up or down as you need!
I honestly think this dessert should be the new crème brûlée (which I have never liked anyway...). It has all sorts of textures that make you excited for another spoonful after each bite. It's creamy and REALLY delicious. I'm kinda ashamed to say, but I was a bit skeptical after I wrote out this recipe... it just didn't sound like it would work. However, I think this baked halva will be a gem that I use over and over again. As I mentioned before, it is really simple, inexpensive, and you can dress it up with whatever you want. Next time I think I will need to add SPRINKLES.
Baking soundtrack - tunes to inspire your inner baker:
This song has definitely been featured here before, but I started listening to this group again, and I just adore them!!