Hello everyone! I’ve got a very tasty treat for you today that happens to be a spin on a beloved childhood treat of mine!
Before that, I wanted to quickly mention my new newsletter, Paleo Bytes. I recently sent out the first newsletter and got a great response! I am sending out a monthly-ish newsletter (you will not get emails every time I post – that’s boring) that features fresh content and awesome times. You can sign up on the right sidebar!
You may not recognize the word “halvah”, but don’t let that turn you away. These cookies are incredibly simple to make – only 4 ingredients! If you like tahini (sesame seed paste), you’ll definitely enjoy these slightly sweet cookies.
Halvah (or halva) has many, many variations, but the kind I grew up with is sesame-based. It’s apparently a traditional Jewish treat, but I never knew that growing up. I don’t have any Jewish heritage, and I never enjoyed halvah homemade. Rather, my dad occasionally bought Joyva halvah and enjoyed it as a sweet snack. When I was really little, it was a “Dad only” snack. I’m guessing he just thought we kids wouldn’t like it, but after a ton of begging, he finally let us try some. I loved it! Lucky for him, I was a conscientious kid who always asked before digging into his halvah stash, but I asked…frequently, despite him reminding me that it was a once in a while treat.
Strangely, though, when I moved out of my parents’ place, I never bought any for myself. Somehow, it just didn’t seem right to enjoy halvah without my dad! After I adopted a cleaner diet, there was no way I was going to buy what my dad used to buy growing up. (I checked once…one of the top ingredients is HFCS. Nope. Not happening.)
But then I bought some tahini for the first time. I tried it, loved it, and was reminded of the halvah I used to enjoy growing up. Knowing how easy it is to make cookies out of nut butters, I wondered if the same method could apply with tahini. My parents would be visiting a week or two after I got the idea, so I knew I would have to try out whatever I came up with on my dad to see if it was close enough to halvah to share with all of you!
Here’s the thing: my dad doesn’t like most sweets. He’s definitely not a cookie guy. He likes cheesecake and pecan pie and butterscotch shakes and halvah, but for the most part he would rather have an extra serving of mashed potatoes than save room for dessert. If my halvah cookies got a thumbs up from him, I would know it was a great recipe.
I tried just mixing tahini with honey. That works and tastes fine, but the texture is off. They spread out a little too much and aren’t “fluffy” enough for halvah. The addition of a little tapioca flour saved the day! My dad always bought the marbled halvah when I was growing up, so I made my halvah cookies marbled, too. You definitely don’t have to marble them…if you decide not to, simply add a couple extra teaspoons of tapioca flour and call it good.
What happened when my dad tried them? Two thumbs up and a big smile as he reached for more. *HAPPY DANCE*
- Preheat oven to 250 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- In a medium bowl, combine tahini and honey until fully incorporated. Move about half the mixture to another bowl.
- In one bowl, add the tapioca flour and mix. In the other bowl, add cacao and mix.
- Form marbled cookies by taking roughly 1/2 Tb from each bowl and smooshing (real, professional cooking term) into a ball. Line these balls on the baking sheet, pressing softly with your fingertips to flatten them out a bit.
- Bake for 10-13 minutes. 10 minutes will get you a soft, chewy cookie (akin to the halvah texture I was going for) and 13 or more minutes results in a crispier cookie.
Have you had halvah before? If not, are you going to try these cookies anyway? (You should, because they rock.)