Have you ever tried halva? I remember being given my first taste by my Polish aunt about thirty years ago and loving the sweet stickiness, but rapidly becoming bored with the underlying sesame taste. I also remember taking some to school one day and offering it around to friends who didn’t have a clue what on earth it was. I’m pretty sure most people have at least heard the word ‘halva‘ before, although it’s probably still a mystery item to many.
It’s been a good while since I had any halva (blame my declining interest in sweet tasting goods) but when I saw this little 75g box of organic dark chocolate Halva I decided it was a good chance for us to be reacquainted.
For those who don’t know, halva is made from sesame seeds and honey. It’s a Middle Eastern speciality, so it’s usually very sweet. This version also includes cocoa mass and cocoa powder, and all ingredients are certified organic. I have to say, when I slid the cardboard sleeve off the plastic tub and peeled back the seal, the contents of the tub looked a little less than appetizing, but the aroma of sweet honey and dark cocoa were some compensation.
If you’ve never eaten halva the texture may catch you by surprise at first. It tends to form into long shards, rather like ice crystals and when you first put it into your mouth it feels as though it’s going to melt away until you chew it, and then it gets pretty gooey. I had forgotten the way that halva clumps together and having sticky little lumps of it between my teeth transported me back to that first taste again, only this time instead of ‘pure’ Halva there was a strong undercurrent of dark cocoa added into the mix.
I found that the addition of cocoa powder and cocoa mass did quite a lot for the flavour. It took away a little of the usual sweetness and added a new dimension to the taste. Losing a little of the underlying sweetness made this much more enjoyable, but the cocoa didn’t take over completely so the overall flavour was a pleasant balance between honeyed sweetness and slightly bitter, dark chocolate.
I have to say that I was preparing myself for a sugar overload but was pleasantly surprised, so much so that I think if I ever had reason to buy Halva again, I’d be looking for this version and the reactions of friends who also tried it would seem to bear that out as it was almost universally acclaimed. If you’re a regular Halva eater, have a go at this. If you’ve never tried it, I would heartily recommend this chocolatey version.