A creative version of a traditional Greek lenten dessert.
Have you ever heard of halva? If you’re Greek, you probably have, as this is a staple dessert during periods of lent when many abstain from eggs and dairy. This delightfully vegan dessert is a breeze to put together and when it is done in chocolate as it is here, you’ll find yourself desperate to come up with an excuses to make it over and over again. We think that I just want to…is reason enough.
Not only is halva delicious, it is also so versatile. We have previously posted a halva recipe which was flavoured with orange and raisins. Super delicious! The lovely thing about halva is that once you get the basic recipe down, you will find it pretty easy to experiment with other flavours and combinations of ingredients. So here, we did just that. We decided to mix in some cocoa powder, dairy free chocolate pieces and finely chopped walnuts to create a chocolate lovers halva.
This recipe makes a semolina based halva which is soft, and almost gelatinous in texture. This should not be confused with the other halva which is a tahini based dessert that is more crumbly and nutty in flavour. Same name, totally different desserts.
We don’t want to scare you away from making this recipe, but we do want to be sure you are aware that when you combine the sugar syrup to the semolina mixture, you may have some splattering. For this reason, it is very important to cook the semolina in a large, deep pot, and to add the liquid syrup slowly, and off the heat.
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When you are cooking the semolina in the oil, set it over medium heat and stir it constantly to prevent burning. You will see that the semolina is done when it is a deeper colour that it was originally, and you will smell it is done when you notice a lovely nutty odour coming from your pot.
We used dairy free chocolate in this halva in order to keep it lenten. If this is not a concern for you, then you can use any chocolate you like.
Your finished product, once everything is combined and it has been cooked through, will be thick and sticky. Use a large serving spoon or ladle to put the semolina mixture into a mould in order for it to cool.
Another way that halva is versatile is that you can allow it to set in any container you like. We tend to prefer pretty cake or gelatin moulds, but you can just as easily use a loaf pan or round cake tin. We have even used a mini ice-cream scooper to portion out scoops of halva that we allow to set on a baking sheet. Then we have halva balls!
Looking for more vegan or lenten desserts? Try these:
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Mia Kouppa: Chocolate Halva
- 6 cups (1,500 ml) water
- 2 cups (400 grams) sugar
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 4 cardamon pods
- 2 cups semolina
- 1 cup (250 ml) olive oil
- 1/2 cup (60 grams) cocoa powder
- 1/4 cup (44 grams) chocolate chips, vegan or not
- 2/3 cups (95 grams) chopped walnuts
- In a large pot combine the water, sugar, cinnamon stick and cardamon pods. Bring the water to a boil and reduce the heat to medium. Keep the water over medium heat for approximately 5 minutes, stirring occasionally and making sure that the sugar melts. Once the sugar has melted, remove the pot from the heat.
- Take another large pot and combine the olive oil and the semolina. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly for approximately 5 – 7 minutes. You will notice that the semolina will take on a bit of a brown colour, and will smell nutty. Remove the pot from the burner.
- Remove the cinnamon stick and cardamon pods from the syrup. Carefully, using a ladle, add one ladle of syrup at a time to the semolina, stirring well after each addition. You will see that steam gets created as you add the first few ladles of syrup to the semolina. Once this no longer happens, carefully pour the rest of the syrup into the semolina mixture.
- Return the pot to the burner set over medium heat. Add in the cocoa powder, chocolate chips and walnuts. Stir well.
- Continue to stir constantly, while cooking the halva over medium heat, until the halva pulls away from the sides of the pot as you are mixing it. This should take about 5 minutes. Remove pot from heat. See video here.
- Lightly grease a cake mould. Use a large serving spoon to scoop the halva into the mould. When you are done, use a butter knife to run through the halva or tap the mould onto the counter a few times. This is to eliminate any air pockets which may have been created.
- Set aside to cool completely. When the halva has come to room temperature, you can place it in the refrigerator.
- When you are ready to serve your halva, invert the mould onto an appropriately sized serving plate or platter. Enjoy.