I had my first proper halva experience in the Machane Yehuda Market
I’d never really liked halva before that — the one or two times
I had tasted it, the texture was weird and crumbly and there was
a slightly bitter aftertaste.
But in the shuk, surrounded by dozens of varieties of blocks of
halva, I couldn’t resist trying the sample offered by the charming
You guys, it was so, so good! I was pleasantly shocked at how
much I liked it.
It had this unbelievably creamy, melt-in-your-mouth consistency
and a satisfying richness.
I bought two varieties — pistachio and coffee — to take home,
but couldn’t resist nibbling on them the whole way home.
Since then, I’m a total halva convert. I just love its unique
texture — dense, creamy and fluffy all at once — and distinct sesame
I also adore tahini and have been using it in myriad ways: mixed
with honey and swirled with Greek yoghurt, in an ice cream that
tastes like the frozen version of halva, even spread on toast with
melted dark chocolate.
I decided it was high time to turn my favourite flavour trio into
a baked good and came up with these buns.
Here, a cinnamon spiced dough is topped by a butter, chocolate
and cocoa filling, which is then swirled together with a sweetened
The whole thing is topped with crumbles of halva and sliced into
big, thick rounds that bake up soft and fluffy.
Drizzled with a tahini icing as soon as they come out of the oven,
the buns are fudgy, rich and bursting with flavour. They’re decadent,
but not too overpowering that you won’t want more than one, and
I love that this is the sort of treat that works for both dessert
and coffee time.
These buns have a lot going on, but it just works. Even non-halva
lovers will get in on the action, finding the combination of sesame
and chocolate deliciously alluring.
A SOFT and rich yeast dough is flavoured with cinnamon and
turned into buns filled with a swirled mixture of buttery chocolate,
sweet tahini and nutty halva pieces. Finished with a tahini glaze,
these buns are rich, chocolatey and warm.
For the dough:
For the chocolate filling:
For the tahini and halva filling:
Make the dough: Melt the butter in a saucepan, add the
milk and heat until warmed through.
In a small bowl combine the yeast with a couple of tablespoons
of the warm milk mixture and 1 tablespoon of the sugar. Let sit
until foamy, 5-10 minutes.
In the bowl of a standing mixer combine the flour, remaining sugar,
cinnamon and salt. Add the yeast mixture, the remaining milk and
the eggs. Stir until a dough forms.
Knead the dough until smooth and elastic, around 5 minutes. The
dough will be soft and sticky. Transfer the dough to a clean, lightly
oiled bowl and let rise until doubled in size, about 1½ hours.
As the dough rises, make the chocolate filling: In a saucepan
over low to medium heat, melt the butter and chocolate together
until smooth. Stir in the powdered sugar, cocoa and salt. The mixture
will form a spreadable paste; set it aside until needed.
Now, make the tahini filling: Combine the tahini, sugar,
salt and cinnamon and stir well until thoroughly combined. Set the
filling and the halva pieces aside until needed.
Once the dough has risen, divide it in half. On a lightly floured
surface, roll out one half of the dough to a rectangle roughly 10-by-17
inches, with the long edge facing you.
Spread half of the chocolate filling over half of the dough, making
sure to spread it all the way to the edges. Top with half of the
tahini mixture and, using a toothpick (or your fingers), swirl the
chocolate and tahini together.
Sprinkle ¼ cup of the halva pieces evenly over the chocolate and
tahini-covered dough. Now roll up the dough. Roll it up the short
way, perpendicular to you.
Slice into 12 buns. Transfer the buns to a baking paper lined
Repeat the above process with the second piece of dough and the
remaining chocolate paste, tahini filling and halva pieces. Transfer
the buns to another lined 9-by-13 pan.
Cover the buns with a clean kitchen towel and let them rise for
30-40 minutes, or until big and puffy. Preheat your oven to 350F.
After the buns have risen, bake them for 30-35 minutes, rotating
the pans from top to bottom and front to back halfway through baking.
While the buns bake, mix together the confectioners’ sugar, liquid
and tahini until completely smooth. As soon as the buns come out
of the oven, drizzle the glaze all over them (It may have hardened
a bit, so whisk it a few times to break it up again).
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