Halva, Orange-Spiced Semolina Pudding Cake with Dried Fruits and Nuts
If dessert can be healthy, halva would win top prize. To find some of the artisinal Greek products you'll need to make this, visit my online shop here, where you'll discover a host of lovingly curated Greek ingredients.
- 2 cups/400 g sugar
- 1 cup/240 ml Greek honey
- 3 cups/840 ml water
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 1 strip of orange peel
- 6-8 Greek krokos saffron threads
- 1 cup/240 ml extra-virgin Greek olive oil
- 2 cups/350 g coarse semolina flour
- 1 cup lightly toasted unsalted pistachios
- 2 teaspoons grated orange zest
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon plus more for sprinkling as garnish
- 1/2 cup/100 g dark seedless Greek raisins or currants
- Ground cinnamon for garnish
- Lightly oil an 8-in/20-cm ring mold.
To make the syrup: Combine the sugar, honey, and water in a saucepan and bring to a simmer over low heat, stirring occasionally until the sugar and honey have dissolved. Add the cinnamon stick and orange peel and simmer together for about 8 minutes, to make a loose syrup. Remove from the heat and set aside. Using a slotted spoon, remove the orange zest and cinnamon stick. Stir in the saffron.
To make the halva: Heat the olive oil in a large, wide pot over medium heat, and add the semolina. Cook, stirring, until the semolina begins to brown lightly, as if you were making a roux. This will take longer than you think! -- About 12 to 15 minutes. At that point, over low heat, using a ladle and with your face far from the pot’s opening, very slowly add the syrup to the semolina mixture, stirring vigorously with each ladleful. Add the nuts, additional cinnamon, raisins and orange zest. Continue to stir the halva mixture over low to medium heat for another 15 minutes or so, until the contents of the pot peel away from the sides. Remove from heat and spoon into a bundt or jellow mold or into individual tartlet or muffin molds. Cover with a kitchen towel and let the halva set at room temperature. You can then chill it or serve it at room temperature.
I love it with a side of Greek yogurt or Vanilla ice cream and a small dollop of any of the great tasting citrus-based Greek spoon sweets.