sesame cookies in a bowl sesame cookies in a bowl Sesame halvah cookies are simple and snackable. (Photo: Olya Detry/Shutterstock)

Put halvah in everything! Classic recipes, enhanced with halvah

The sesame-based treat, often eaten on its own, is about to be the new ingredient in your favorite foods.

At first glance, it looks like a cross between cake and fudge. And since both of those things are inarguably great, it's no surprise that we would be singing the praises of a treat called halvah, a sesame-based concoction popular in Israel, the Mediterranean and now, the U.S. You can make it at home, buy it at specialty shops and grocery stores in either candy bar or loaf form, and even use it as a ingredient in your favorite baked goods – which is where we come in.

alvah, a sweet treat derived from ground sesame seeds. Seed + Mill in New York has many different flavors of halvah, a sweet treat derived from ground sesame seeds. (Photo: Seed + Mill)

Here are some classic recipes that we've discovered – and some we've created ourselves – enhanced with a healthy helping of halvah.

Carob halvah muffins

halvah carob muffins Halvah and carob work very well as a pair in these Mediterranean-inspired muffins. (Photo: Sarah F. Berkowitz)

Browsing the aisles of a boutique market that sells many Israeli products, recipe author Sarah Berkowitz found a halvah carob spread that looked lovely. Being a fan of both halvah and carob, she knew the flavors would work well together.

She swirled ribbons of the halvah carob spread into the muffin batter, and crumbled marble halvah and bakery-style streusel on top. The results were DIVINE.

Here's our recipe.


Yotam Ottolenghi's tahini and halvah brownies

Yotam Ottolenghi's tahini and halvah brownies Yotam Ottolenghi's tahini and halvah brownies are one of hundreds of recipes in his 'Sweet' cookbook. (Photo: Ten Speed Press)

"Sweet," a cookbook published in October by acclaimed Israeli-British chef Yotam Ottolenghi and his colleague, Malaysian-Australian pastry chef Helen Goh, is a show-stopping collection of cakes, cookies, pastries, tarts, pies, puddings, cupcakes and, if you're feeling particularly youthful, a few lollipops and ice cream sandwiches. And, true to his Israeli roots, Ottolenghi did not neglect the halvah lovers in his fanbase. His tahini and halvah brownies are, in the author's words, "the perfect balance of cakey and gooey – that sweet spot that all brownies should hit."

Ottolenghi shared the recipe on his website.


Halvah babka

Babka is a traditional yeast cake made famous in a classic "Seinfeld" episode. Babka is a traditional yeast cake made famous in a classic "Seinfeld" episode. (Photo: Sarah F. Berkowitz)

Babkas have a pretty good reputation. The traditional yeast cake was doing fine even before "Seinfeld" catapulted it to TV fame by devoting an entire episode to it. But now Israeli cookbook author Orly Ziv has shown us how to combine this heavenly cake with a favorite Israeli snack – halvah. The results are amazing. In just 10 easy steps, you can recreate this wondrous loaf of sweetness, oozing with chocolate and just a hint of the treat of the hour. Our resident recipe writer, Berkowitz, has her own take on the pastry.


Halvah ice cream

Sugar Free halva and poppy-seed ice cream from Capitolina in Tel Aviv Sugar free halva and poppy-seed ice cream from Capitolina in Tel Aviv. (Photo: Noam Zomerfeld / Flickr)

Why do ice cream parlors try odd flavors? Because there are some ice cream lovers who are bored of butter pecan and rocky road, and they're looking for a rare treat.

On a trip to the Jaffa Flea Market in Israel one day, photographer Noam Zomerfeld came upon an ice cream parlor called Capitolina that had some truly unique flavors on offer. "We went in, read their cute sign about the mythological Capitolinnim – little snow gnomes who eat only ice cream – and had to try their ice cream. I was going for their weirder flavors, I couldn't resist but getting the halvah ice cream."

And though it was like nothing he'd tried before, Zomerfeld concluded that since halvah is more pasty than creamy, pairing it with ice cream just makes sense. Here's a video recipe for halvah and raspberry ice cream sandwich.


Halvah cookies

halvah sesame cookie Halvah sesame cookie, nutty and simple. (Photo: Olya Detry/Shutterstock)

Some people aren't fond of eating halvah straight up. So adding it to other foods is just a fun way to enjoy it. That's why you just knew someone was going to come up with halvah cookies. And why not? They're chewy, nutty and adorable. And in this adaptation from The Washington Post, they're also vegan. Here's the recipe from the Post.

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Put halvah in everything! Classic recipes, enhanced with halvah
The sesame-based treat, often eaten on its own and enjoyed around the world, is about to be the new ingredient in your favorite foods.