Sunday, 17 April 2016

Halva with Cinnamon - a kind of healthy sweet treat

Cinnamon Halva is a lovely dessert that is kind of good for  you
as it has semolina as the main ingredient.
Semolina is high in fibre and protein whilst having low GI. It is also a good source of vitamins E and B.

I made this recipe recently before leaving for work and a friend of my son who is of Greek origin said "this is not like any Halva I have had before, but it's good!" 

This is the first time I have made Halva but when we were children my mother would buy some for us to consume.  Mum's neighbour's Barney and Ilsa who would be almost 100 years old if they were still with us, were Jewish immigrants.  Barney was from Palestine and was playing soccer in Australia when World War II broke out and he was unable return to his home.  Ilsa was also from Germany but it is unclear how she arrived in Australia.

Every morning Barney, Ilsa, Moyna (my mother) and another buxom German lady Susie (Ron Crosby's wife whom we referred to as 'Bing') would gather most mornings at the small beach nearby for a quick swim and chat.  Susie liked to constantly sun bake topless which was quite unusual for a small town in the 1970's.
They were such characters with very interesting, varied stories. Ilsa was lucky to escape Germany and could tell of horror stories of concentration camps, the lack of food and provisions and how sad it was during the days of persecution.  This unique  couple also told brilliant, original stories of how it was for them growing up in Europe and the happy childhoods they had before war broke out.

Barney loved Halva but Ilsa was not a cook by any means so it was only when it could be purchased locally that Barney could enjoy this sweet delicacy.

When I came across this recipe in a Greek cookbook it brought back fond memories of Ilsa and Barney and I certainly had to make it, for their memory, as much as for my family and guests.


Halva with Cinnamon

125g butter
1 cup (160g) semolina
2 tablespoons slivered almonds
2 1/2 cups (625ml) water
1 cup (220g) castor sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
extra slivered almonds for garnish

Heat butter in a pan, add semolina and nuts, cook, stirring constantly for about 5 minutes or until semolina is lightly browned.  Remove pan from heat.
In a separate pan combine water and sugar, stir over heat without boiling, until sugar is dissolved.  Bring to boil, simmer, uncovered without stirring for 5 minutes.  Gradually stir  the hot syrup into the semolina mixture, add cinnamon, stir over low heat until smooth and bubbling, cook stirring for a further 2 minutes.
Remove from heat, cover pan with folded tea towel, then place on lid and stand for 15 minutes.
Grease base of  a 20cm round cake pan, cover base with baking paper, grease paper.  (I used multi baking paper on the base of a silicon round cake pan.)  
Spread mixture evenly into pan.  Place pan on wire rack, stand 5 minutes before turning Halva onto serving plate. Cut into wedges and serve.  
Sprinkle more slivered almonds on top for garnish. 


It is amazing how we remember people through food,
do you have a favourite recipe that evokes fond childhood memories?

Buon appetito, enjoy Merryn xx