Halva ice cream with chocolate sauce and salted peanuts
The flavour of halva works brilliantly in an ice cream. Make it once and you’ll go back to it over and over again, even without the chocolate sauce and peanuts. With the two condiments it tastes a bit like a luxurious sneakers ice cream: sweet, nutty and comforting. The chocolate can mask the halva flavour a little so better not drench it with sauce, just drizzle lightly. With an ice cream machine, you would need to churn the ice cream at least a few hours ahead of time, preferably a day in advance. If you don’t have an ice cream machine, make this the old fashioned way, by making the custard and freezing it without churning, beating occasionally for 4-5 hours. Add the halva half way through. Using this method works well for serving immediately but the next day the ice cream tends to go hard. Serves four to sixView Recipe
250ml double cream
350ml whole milk
1 vanilla pod, split lengthways and seeds scraped or 1 tsp of vanilla paste
2 egg yolks
40g caster sugar
30g tahini paste
100g halva, ½ cm dice
60g roasted and salted peanuts, roughly chopped, shop bought are best
120ml double cream
80g dark chocolate (70%) finely chopped
½ tsp brandy
Heat the cream, milk and vanilla pod and seeds in a medium saucepan until just coming to the boil. Remove from the heat. In a medium bowl, whisk the egg yolks and sugar until combined. Use a ladle to spoon a little of the hot cream mix into the egg mix, whisking the whole time. Continue with more cream mix until it is all incorporated. Return to the saucepan and place on medium heat. Stir with a wooden spoon continuously for 10 minutes, until the sauce thickens to a light custard consistency. Remove from the heat and whisk in the tahini. Leave to cool for 20 minute; then remove the vanilla pod.
Place the custard in an ice cream machine and churn for about 35 minutes, until semi frozen but creamy. Remove from the machine and stir through the halva pieces. Place in a pre-frozen container and freeze. Remove from the freezer 10 minutes before serving to let it soften.
Make the chocolate sauce just before serving. Place the cream in a small saucepan and bring to a gentle boil. Immediately pour this over the chocolate and stir until soft and uniform. Stir in the brandy. Divide the ice cream into bowls and pour over some warm sauce. Sprinkle with the peanuts and serve immediately.
Walnut and halva cake
Use plain or vanilla Arab-style sesame halva for this rich cake. To serve as a dessert, have thick whipped cream alongside. Makes one large loaf.View Recipe
85g unsalted butter at room temperature, plus extra for greasing
100g caster sugar
2 medium eggs, lightly whisked
200g plain flour
¾ tsp baking powder
¾ tsp bicarbonate of soda
130g soured cream
For the topping:
60g unsalted butter
120g walnuts, roughly chopped
1 tsp ground cinnamon
25g dark muscovado sugar
170g plain sesame halva , broken into large, 3 cm pieces
Heat the oven to 160C/320F/gas mark 2½. Grease a 12cm x 25cm loaf tin with a little butter, and line the base and sides with greaseproof paper.
First, make the topping. Put the butter in a small saucepan on a low to medium heat. Leave to melt, then let it sizzle for a few minutes until it's light brown and smells slightly nutty. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool. Once cool, mix the butter, walnuts and cinnamon, divide the mixture in two and stir the sugar into one of the portions (you may need to use your hands to break up the sugar and spread it evenly through the nuts).
Now for the cake batter. In an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar on a medium speed until light and fluffy, then add the eggs a little at a time. Sift together the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and a pinch of salt, and bit by bit add this and the cream alternately. Make sure not to over-mix.
Spread half the batter on the base of the cake tin and evenly scatter over the sugarless nut mix. Dot the halva on top, and spread the remaining batter over this – the halva will drag a bit into the batter, but don't worry about that. Finally, sprinkle the sugary nuts on top.
Bake for 40-45 minutes, until a skewer comes out clean. Leave to cool for 20 minutes, then gently remove from the tin by lifting the greaseproof paper. Take off the paper and leave the cake to cool on a wire rack (it may crumble otherwise). Wrapped, the cake will keep for a day or two.
Tahini and halva brownies
The cooking time is crucial if you’re to get the desired balance between cakey and gooey, but it can vary depending on both your oven and where you put your brownie tray. The difference between a cooking time of 18 and 22 minutes can be significant, so do stay alert. These keep for up to five days in an airtight container. Makes 20 brownies.View Recipe
240g unsalted butter, cut into 2cm dice
240g dark chocolate (70-75% cocoa solids), broken into 3-4cm pieces
330g caster sugar
120g plain flour, sifted
30g cocoa powder, sifted
130g walnuts, lightly roasted and roughly chopped
150g tahini paste
130g halva, broken into 2-3cm pieces
Heat the oven to 180C/350F/gas mark 4. Quarter-fill a small saucepan with water and place on a high heat. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium and sit a heatproof bowl on top of the pan, making sure its base does not come into contact with the water. Put the butter and chocolate in the bowl, leave for about two minutes, to melt, then remove the bowl from the heat and stir until you have a thick, shiny sauce. Set aside to come down to room temperature.
In a large bowl, whisk the eggs and sugar until pale and creamy, and the whisk leaves a trail behind it – about three minutes with an electric whisk, longer by hand. Gently fold the chocolate mix into the eggs – don’t overwork the mix – then fold in the flour, cocoa, walnuts and three-quarters of a teaspoon of salt. Pour into a 21cm x 31cm baking tray lined with parchment paper and spread out into an even layer.
Use a spoon to insert tahini into the brownie mix in about 12 places, then use the back of a clean spoon to swirl it a little through the mix – not too much: you want it uneven. Dot the halva on the surface, pushing it down a little so that it is well submerged but still visible.
Bake for about 20 minutes, until the top is crisp and the middle still has a slight wobble and is gooey inside: check after 18 minutes (see introduction). The brownies may seem a bit undercooked at first, but they will firm up as they cool down. Cut the baked brownie into 20 pieces and serve warm-ish (and gooey!) or at room temperature (and not quite so gooey).