The Recipe - Halva

Azerbaijani Halva

As Afet Nadirova from Baku, Azerbaijan, taught Lindsay Sterling in South Portland, Maine, February 25, 2012

Serves about 30
Cooking Time: about 1 hr

3 sticks butter
2-3 cups flour
3 cups sugar
2 1/2 cups water
pinch salt
1/2 tsp turmeric

In a 6 quart soup pot, mix sugar and water and heat until the sugar dissolves and you have simple syrup. Remove from heat. In a large saute pan with at least 2-inch high sides, melt the butter. Turn to low heat (setting 3 out of 10). Add flour and stir with a wooden spoon until the butter and flour mixture is a thick dough that looks like maple sugar candy, roux, or peanut butter cookie dough, whichever you're familiar with. Mash the mixture with the back of the spoon, and stir around for about an hour. When the mixture turns from a dry dough to a thick paste with a wet shimmer to it, add a pinch of salt and 1/2 tsp turmeric, and keep stirring. When the color has darkened to a deep caramel, remove from stove and put the pan on hot pads on the counter. (This should be just shy of an hour after starting) Pour the simple syrup into the butter and flour mixture, stirring as vigorously as you can with the spoon without splashing. Use enough of the simple syrup to make a thick paste that's between a liquid and a solid. Fill salad plates with large spoonfuls that spread out to the edges of the plate. Decorate the top of the halva by imprinting the spoon tip repeatedly making three columns. Serve with Earl Grey tea steeped with cardamom, fresh lemon slices, other chocolates and pastries, and fresh fruit such as blackberries, strawberries, and grapes.

Copyright Lindsay Sterling 2012