SMiLes by Meg


Here’s how deciding on this week’s recipe went:

Last Wednesday, I start thinking about what I wanted to make. Laura is coming into town to visit, so I think maybe it would be fun to do something a little more hands on and bake together. I decide on macarons.

Thursday, I realize Laura won’t actually be in town long enough to make macarons. But that’s OK, I’ll make them myself. They’d be a good Easter recipe, and I should probably practice once first. I start looking at Cloudy Kitchen’s posts.

Saturday, Laura is supposed to arrive within an hour and I still haven’t gone grocery shopping. I pull up the Cloudy Kitchen post on macarons, and start making a list of ingredients, only to become realistic at the last moment and realize I definitely do not have time to make macarons this weekend.

I turn to Ottolenghi and look for something on the quicker side. I find Millionaire Bars, and think: perfect. Shortbread, halvah, chocolate and all in a bar – what more could I want? I make my grocery list and rush off to the store.

I get to the store, and realize there’s no chocolate on my list, but I definitely think the recipe called for chocolate. I also realize Whole Foods STILL doesn’t sell Halvah.

Walking in the produce aisle, inspiration strikes: I’ll make halvah! I pull up the New York Times recipe on my phone, and realize it’s super easy. Switch up my grocery list, get everything I need, and make it home before Laura arrives.

Now, I’ve made halvah, it is as easy as I thought it would be, and I’ll be able to make something later this week with halvah in it THAT I MADE MYSELF. Maybe I’ll make those Millionaire Bars!

So making that halvah. You will need a candy thermometer. Other than that, super simple. First, in a medium saucepan, heat the sugar, vanilla bean seeds, lemon zest, and water over medium low heat, stirring, to melt the sugar.

Bring the pot to a simmer and don’t stir while it heats up to 245°F.

Meanwhile, put the tahini and salt in a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat on medium speed.

Once the syrup on the stove reaches 245°F, pour it into the tahini with the mixer running in a steady stream. Continue to mix until it starts to pull away from the sides, but before it gets sandy.

Working quickly, scrape the batter into an 8×8 pan lined with parchment paper. Use a second sheet of parchment paper to flatten into a smooth square.

Allow to cool completely at room temperature.

Then, remove from the pan (using the parchment paper) and cut into squares.

Store in an airtight container, and use for whatever you want? Might I suggest Halvah Ice Cream or Tahini Halvah Brownies? Or maybe you’d prefer Walnut Halvah Cake? Better yet, wait for my Millionaire Bars next week!




  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1/2 vanilla bean, scraped
  • zest of one lemon
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 1/2 cups tahini
  • pinch salt


  1. In a medium saucepan over medium low heat, stir sugar, vanilla bean seeds, lemon zest, and water until sugar dissolves.
  2. Without stirring, let the mixture come to a simmer and continue to simmer until it reaches 245°F.
  3. Meanwhile, in a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat tahini and salt on medium speed.
  4. When the syrup reaches 245°F, pour in a steady stream into the running stand mixer and beat just until it begins to come off the sides of the bowl.
  5. Working quickly, scrape mixture into an 8×8 pan lined with parchment paper using a rubber spatula. Use a second sheet of parchment paper to flatten into a square.
  6. Allow to cool to room temperature. Cut into squares.

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