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Reem Kassis's Halaweh

Makes about 1 pound (400 grams)

Halaweh (halva) and all derivatives of that globally-used word are rooted in the Arabic word halw, which means “sweet.” The first known written recipe for halaweh appeared in the early 10th-century Arabic Kitab al-Tabikh, but it has since spread across the world, from India to the Balkans, where each culture has its own unique version. When Arabs use the word however, it refers to the confection made from tahini milled from sesame seeds. Originally, it was made from tahini and the root of the soapwort plant. Today however, few commercial varieties are made in the traditional way, with many using artificial flavorings and sugar instead. But if you’ve had the original kind, you know there is a huge difference between good halaweh, which is smooth and dense with a deep nutty flavor, and the commercial variety, which is often powdery and sticky with a single note of sweetness. This recipe is the best solution I have found for making it at home, which gives the wonderful flavor of original halaweh but with only a few simple ingredients. It can be sliced or crumbled and eaten with bread or crackers or simply as is.