Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Honey Sesame Candy

LESLIE: Mr. Right loves halvah, the little sesame candies often found wrapped on the tray with your check at a Middle Eastern restaurant. So when I spotted a recipe in the Washington Post, I thought it would be fun to try. It’s a bit like peanut brittle, with no candy thermometer required – just sharp eyes and a spoon at the ready.

We’ve talked – laughed – here at the Kitchen about whether we’ve long been prepared cooks who get everything ready and measured before we start, or whether it’s only the need to take photos of the ingredients that put us on that path. With candy, get all your ingredients and your measuring devices and other tools ready, because you need to move quickly. That caution aside, this is an easy recipe.

The Post cooks added the tahini, noting that it isn’t traditional but “reinforces” the sesame flavor. That it does. You may not know tahini if you haven’t made your own hummus – sesame paste that comes in a can or jar. It can be pretty thick, so let it warm to room temp and stir well as you lay out your ingredients. (The Post credits the recipe as an adaptation from "Israeli Soul: Easy, Essential, Delicious," by Michael Solomonov and Steven Cook (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2018).)

The first time I made it, I assumed the honey and sugar would liquify and that’s what would boil. Not so. I ended up with a tasty treat a little too done. So now I’ve added times and made the directions more specific.

You can cut these into pieces that resemble the wrapped originals many of us remember, using a heavy knife, or just chip away. Either way, it’s pretty tasty stuff.

Honey Sesame Candy

Canola oil, for the pan

1 cup sesame seeds (not toasted)
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup sugar
Pinch kosher salt
1 tablespoon tahini, stirred well

Lay foil in an 8-inch-square baking dish and coat lightly with canola oil.

Combine the sesame seeds, honey, sugar and salt in a 1 quart saucepan. Cook over medium-high heat until you start to see bubbles on the bottom, then cook for 2 minutes, stirring vigorously. (The honey and sugar will not fully liquify.)

Stir in the tahini and cook for about to 2 minutes, or until thickened. Stir vigorously and, working quickly, scrape the mixture into the prepared baking dish, using a silicon spatula or the back of a spoon to spread it into an even layer. (It might fight you at first; it does become easier to work.)

Let cool about ten minutes, then use a table knife or thin metal spatula to loosen the slab around the edges. Slide it onto a cutting board and cut into strips about 2 inches long, and cut the strips into half inch ribbons, using a heavy chef’s knife.

Store in a sealed plastic bag or tightly covered container, at room temperature.

"Budewitz's finely drawn characters, sharp ear for dialogue, and well-paced puzzle make Jewel Bay a destination for every cozy fan." --- Kirkus Reviews

From the cover of AS THE CHRISTMAS COOKIE CRUMBLES, Food Lovers' Village Mystery #5 (Midnight Ink,  available in trade paper, e-book, and audio):  

In Jewel Bay---Montana's Christmas Village---all is merry and bright. At Murphy’s Mercantile, AKA the Merc, manager Erin Murphy is ringing in the holiday season with food, drink, and a new friend: Merrily Thornton. A local girl gone wrong, Merrily’s turned her life around. But her parents have publicly shunned her, and they nurse a bitterness that chills Erin.

When Merrily goes missing and her boss discovers he’s been robbed, fingers point to Merrily—until she’s found dead, a string of lights around her neck. The clues and danger snowball from there. Can Erin nab the killer—and keep herself in one piece—in time for a special Christmas Eve?

Leslie Budewitz is the author of the Food Lovers’ Village Mysteries and the Spice Shop Mysteries—and the first author to win Agatha Awards for both fiction and nonfiction. A past president of Sisters in Crime, she lives in northwest Montana with her husband, a musician and doctor of natural medicine, and their cat, an avid bird-watcher.

Swing by my website and join the mailing list for my seasonal newsletter. And join me on Facebook where I announce lots of giveaways from my cozy writer friends.


  1. Oh, I am intrigued. I love the flavor of the sesame seed candies I have come across. Can't wait to try this one!

  2. The candy looks so good and sounds easy enough for me to attempt. Thanks for sharing.

  3. No candy thermometer - yay! I love sesame seeds and tahini and look forward to trying this recipe. Thanks for sharing ~

  4. I used to like that when I was a kid. I haven’t had it in years.

  5. The recipe intrigues me. Last year I researched Korean recipes for a Korean dinner we hosted in honour of the Pyongyang Olympics. I used several cookbooks from the library as well as online Korean recipe sites. On of the desserts I ended up making was quite similar to this, and very yummy. It didn't have the tahini and used toasted sesame seeds. You can buy them already toasted in Asian markets. I think I have to try your version.

  6. I forgot to add that my version also had chopped candied ginger in it. Yum!