Do you know what halva is? I do, because my dad has always had this weird thing for halva. No, my family is not one iota Middle Eastern, evident by my vampire-status complexion. I don’t know where my dad got his love for halva from. I could probably ask him, but that would be subjecting myself to an excruciatingly thorough discussion about the sweet, dense dessert and all things halva-related.
For those of you who, unlike me, did not grow up in a household where this foreign dessert kept popping up on the kitchen counter, halva is a dessert served across the Middle East and parts of Asia, Africa, and Europe. The halva I know is made with tahini (or some other type of nut/seed butter) and sweetener, usually sugar or honey. There’s another type of halva made with flour, but that’s not the type I’m going for here.
It was my dad’s birthday yesterday, so I wanted to surprise him with something special. Because I like to put my own spin on things (and because I don’t use refined sugar or honey in my kitchen), I made this dessert with white sesame seeds, raw macadamia nuts, and maple syrup. I’ve only seen halva served as slices off a block, so I opted for bliss balls instead, because everyone knows balls are the best. (Pretend I didn’t write that. Especially you dad, if you see this.)
Sesame seeds are a good source of copper, manganese, calcium, phosphorus, iron, magnesium, zinc, and vitamin E. They’re a much healthier source of calcium for your bones than dairy, which has actually been proven to leach calcium from your bones. Because of their high iron content (yay for vegan iron!), sesame seeds are also great for preventing anemia. Their vitamin E content makes them a warrior for healthy skin, too. Vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant for fighting free radicals, so if you’re trying to keep your skin young (who isn’t?), you should definitely make vitamin E your friend. Sesame seeds are pretty powerful little things, aren’t they? At almost five grams per ounce, they’re also an awesome source of vegan protein.
These bliss balls are a tasty way to get your sesame seed fix. They’re rich, smooth, creamy, and just sweet enough. If you’re a tahini fan, you’ll definitely enjoy! I also think a chocolate version would be great, so feel free to experiment with adding some raw cacao powder or other superfoods like goji berries. Oh, but before I give you the recipe…one last thing…HAPPY EARTH DAY!
20 raw macadamia nuts (about a heaping 1/3 cup)
1 1/2 cups plus 1/2 cup white sesame seeds
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 cup maple syrup
Place the macadamia nuts, 1 1/2 cups of the sesame seeds, and the sea salt in a food processor fitted with the S-blade. Reserve the remaining 1/2 cup of seeds for the end.
Blend until you get a crumbly texture. Don’t make tahini out of it, but get it nice and doughy.
Add the maple syrup, and blend again until all the ingredients have come together to form a smooth, uniform consistency.
Form the dough into balls with your hands. It’ll be sticky! On a cutting board, sprinkle some of the remaining sesame seeds, and roll each ball until it’s coated.
Makes 10-12 balls, depending on size.