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Nancy Charlier
(ncharlier) - MLife

Locale: Midwest
Anybody pack halvah? on 11/20/2010 20:50:19 MST Print View

I recently discovered some halvah I bought 2 years ago and forgot about-- I ate it anyway and it was great! It was the sesame seed paste/sugar kind, Joyna brand, I think. I am planning to make some from scratch tomorrow, from sesame paste(tahine) and honey. Does anybody know how well this keeps on a long trip?

Sarah Kirkconnell
(sarbar) - F

Locale: In the shadow of Mt. Rainier
What are the other ingredients? on 11/21/2010 10:21:52 MST Print View

I know that is a recipe that is all over (in that people make it many ways). Overall though honey is a good preservative. And whole sesame is an oil rich item that can go rancid with long term storage I find sesame oils, seeds, etc last just fine for months.
Still I would try to eat any candy up in a couple weeks so it is at its freshest (and tastiest!).

Nancy Charlier
(ncharlier) - MLife

Locale: Midwest
Halvah on 11/21/2010 12:25:50 MST Print View

I found a lot of different recipes online, all the sesame ones using either homey or sugar; the other ingredients, if any, seemed to be for giving alternate flavors like chocolate, almonds, hazelnuts, etc. I found one recipe that called for egg whites, but I wasn't sure that would keep very well. If I like the basic recipe reults, I will try substituting some peanut-only peanut butter for a little of the tahine, as well as trying some slivered almonds and/or chocolate.
The commercial stuff I had sat on a shelf in my kitchen for over 2 years, still in its wrapper, so I'm hoping that handling everything as cleanly as possible, then sealing it well, will give me at least a few weeks. Unfortunately, I liked it so much that I'm not sure I can actually resist it that long once my trail appetite kicks in. My best bet may be to try freezing most of it in small packages, then ask my daughter to send it to me occasionally (planning AT thru)

Sarah Kirkconnell
(sarbar) - F

Locale: In the shadow of Mt. Rainier
Re: Halvah on 11/21/2010 16:27:47 MST Print View

I think we saw the same recipe! Eggs whites in that type of candy cooking do get cooked - but yes, anything with dairy should be eaten soon (couple weeks at most) and also those with wheat added.
Partly what happens is before it turns (rancid) the candy gets soft and not so appetizing.

But, yes, freezing is a great ally! Make it, freeze it in small batches (vac sealing works well) and then ship it out. It will be even more special that way - a treat you know you will be getting!

The nice thing about candy making is everything gets so freaking hot nothing survives it ;-) I spent the weekend making candy, one I did went to 310* for the syrup. Hot indeed! One trick I use is parchment paper for cooling the candy on - clean and easy to use. You could also wear disposable gloves as well while making it for extra security (I do when I am making candy for gifts). Basically I treat it like I am working in a kitchen that would have the health inspector come in anytime ;-)

Laurie Ann March
(Laurie_Ann) - F

Locale: Ontario, Canada
alegria on 11/23/2010 17:33:27 MST Print View

I make a candy that uses honey and amaranth for the trail. It's called Alegria. It's a bit time consuming because of the need to puff/pop the amaranth like you would popcorn. In fact it looks like popcorn in miniature. The nice thing about amaranth is that it is nutritionally packed and has a high-calorie to weight ratio.

Here is some info from www.AskDrSears.com

"AMARANTH
Botanically, amaranth is not really a grain, but it has the nutritional profile of one. It surpasses whole wheat in calories, protein, iron, zinc, copper, and nearly all nutrients, and is the grain highest in folic acid, calcium, and vitamin E. Also, like wheat, amaranth is rich in the amino acid lysine. It even contains a bit of vitamin C. Even though this overlooked and underappreciated food is expensive and found only in nutrition stores, it is a grain with a future. Amaranth can be added to other grains, used as a thickener, garnish, popped like popcorn, or added to homemade bread. Because it is one of the most nutrient-dense foods, we have placed it at the top of our greatest grains list."

Nancy Charlier
(ncharlier) - MLife

Locale: Midwest
Alegria on 11/25/2010 08:52:52 MST Print View

Laurie,
I'm going down to Madison for the weekend and should be able to find amaranth there. Question--after you pop the amaranth, do you remove the ones that haven't popped, or can it all be used?
Sarah,I'm going to do my halvah-making in Madison, too--my daughter's kitchen is easier to cook in, and she will be keeping it for me, so less transport. The paper liner is a great idea. We aren't doing athe usual Thanksgiving feast, nobody is enthusiastic for it this year, but halvah and alegria will make up for it.

Laurie Ann March
(Laurie_Ann) - F

Locale: Ontario, Canada
Re: Alegria on 11/29/2010 11:04:52 MST Print View

Basically it is a preference thing. Because they are toasted I leave the unpopped ones in and it adds a bit of crunch. I found a method that works well to get most of the seeds to pop.

I made some last week for my son's lunch because they are in a peanut free environment at school and I took photos.... so I'll post them tonight or tomorrow when I get a few moments to pull them off the camera and I'll post my recipe as well.

Nancy Charlier
(ncharlier) - MLife

Locale: Midwest
Alegria on 11/29/2010 19:16:19 MST Print View

I didn't get much done in Madison on the weekend, so no amaranth yet--could only find it ground into flour. I did make halvah from honey and tahini, only to find that I prefer the commercial product made with sugar--lets the sesame taste come through much better. I'll try again with a different recipe, and using a candy thermometer instead of trying to guesstimate the temperature.

I wonder if amaranth can be found online--does it go stale? I really want to try the alegria.

Laurie Ann March
(Laurie_Ann) - F

Locale: Ontario, Canada
Re: Alegria on 11/29/2010 20:19:00 MST Print View

Like any grain or seed it can go stale although I've never had a problem. We use amaranth for lots of things. You can use the same idea with sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, pepitas, or chia seeds if you don't feel like popping amaranth. I use maple syrup to keep it vegan which varies from the traditional honey method.

Here is the recipe but keep in mind it hasn't been through the editing phase so it may read a little differently when the actual book comes out in the spring.

Alegria Trail Candy
From Another Fork in the Trail 2010

Vegan and Gluten Free
Makes 12 pieces

This Mexican candy made from popped amaranth is said to date back to the time of the Aztecs. The great thing about amaranth is that it a good source of protein and it has other important nutrients. My version of Alegria veers from the traditional because I used maple syrup and added pepitas. Don’t worry too much if every single grain of amaranth fully pops as the toasted grains add a wonderful bit of crunch.

Vegetable oil for popping amaranth
1/2 cup popped amaranth (about 1/4 cup before popping)
1/3 cup pure maple syrup
1/6 cup pepitas, flax seeds or sunflower seeds

At Home
Line a plate with waxed paper. Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a wok or deep skillet that has a lid over medium-high to high heat. Add 1 tablespoon of seeds and cook, moving constantly so they don’t scorch, until they start to pop and turn white. This happens very fast; about 15 to 20 seconds. Remove them from the pan immediately and set aside to cool. Repeat until you have 1/2 cup.

Heat the maple syrup over medium-high heat, stirring constantly, for 5 minutes or until it darkens a shade and starts to thicken. If you are using a candy thermometer you are looking for a temperature of 244°F.

Stir in the popped amaranth and pepitas. Immediately spread the mixture on the waxed paper covered plate with a wooden spoon that has been lightly oiled or with a silicone spatula. Press the mixture down until about 1/4 to 1/2-inch thick. Let cool for 10 to 15 minutes and cut into 12 pieces. Wrap individually in waxed paper and store in a ziplock freezer bag.

Edited to add photos.

Popped amaranth...

Popped Amaranth

Alegria before being cut...

Alegria

Snack-sized portions wrapped in wax paper...

Alegria - Wrapped in Wax Paper

Edited by Laurie_Ann on 11/29/2010 20:43:21 MST.

Nancy Charlier
(ncharlier) - MLife

Locale: Midwest
Alegria on 12/01/2010 19:55:50 MST Print View

Laurie,
thanks for putting up the detailed popping instructions, and the great photos. Now I'm hungry again...I think I may have found a place to get some amaranth, assuming it doesn't snow like crazy tonight. Meanwhile, I have rapidly developed a halvah dependency--I know I've got a problem when I won't share any with my dog.

Laurie Ann March
(Laurie_Ann) - F

Locale: Ontario, Canada
halvah on 12/01/2010 20:18:12 MST Print View

Halvah is delicious. My dear friend Ana brought my son a really neat box of similar treats from her 60 adventure in Greece this summer. I wish I still had the box as it reminded me of halvah.