A Master Halva from Irini Tzortzoglou
Fresh from her cooking demonstration at Foodies Festival in London and ahead of her next festival culinary treat, Masterchef 2019 winner, Irini Tzortzoglou takes a moment to share one of her all type Greek desserts; the iconic halva.
This is an easy, quick and affordable staple of many Greek households. You can serve it simply in a bowl straight from the pan with a sprinkling of cinnamon and a few chopped toasted nuts or you can jazz it up adding ice cream, meringues, chocolate decorations, edible flowers, etc. making it a stunning centre piece.
Below is a list of things to add for more flavour, texture and beauty. Your guests will think that you spent hours making it! I learned this recipe in my childhood and we always measured with a glass or cup. It helps to remember the recipe if you use this method. I use cups of 200ml for mine and it makes enough for 8 – 10 persons.
Cocoa Nibs & Chocolate Ganache Halva
1 cup of corn or sun flower oil (I use about ¾ of the cup to make it less calorific)
2 cups of semolina (I use a mixture of coarse and fine as I like the combination of textures)
3 cups of caster sugar (I use just a little over 2 cups for health reasons and because I don’t like things too sweet but better still you can use any type of sweetener bearing in mind though that it will alter the flavour).
4 cups water
1 tsp of vanilla extract
1. Heat the oil in a deep pan.
2. Add the semolina and stir with a wooden spoon continuously till its nutty aromas come out and looks golden.
3. Take pan off the heat and add the sugar giving it a stir and then the water from a little distance as it may splash.
4. Add the vanilla and put back on a medium heat stirring continuously till all the water is absorbed and halve is cooked.
5. At this point, you can add anything you like to flavour your halva (see below for a chocolate variation). In a restaurant I like in Heraklion, they add a bit more water so it is a little runny and serve it warm in a bowl with just toasted crushed almonds and cinnamon.I like it in the thicker consistency so that I can put in a pretty mould and turn upside down to decorate before taking to the table to serve individually. I also find that my guests enjoy the theatre of me serving it adding the various elements that make it look special.
30g of cocoa
50 g cocoa nibs
100g toasted crushed almonds
For the chocolate topping , I make a chocolate ganache by heating up 100 ml of cream, adding it to 75g of finely chopped 70% cocoa solids chocolate and stirring it to a lovely glossy consistency and letting cool a little before pouring over. The toasted crushed almonds can then be sprinkled on top and around your halva as a perfectly arresting finish.