Are you craving a delightful dessert that is dairy-free, butter-free, and egg-free? Look no further than the traditional Greek semolina halva! While it is particularly popular during the Lenten period, I enjoy it all year round because of its simplicity and the ingredients I already have in my kitchen. Join me as I share all my secrets to perfectly making this Greek halva, and of course, find the recipe at the end of this post!
The Secret Ratio – “1:2:3:4”
The beauty of the traditional Greek halva recipe lies in its simplicity with the famous “1:2:3:4” ratio. One unit of oil, two units of semolina, three units of sugar, and four units of water – that’s all it takes! You’ll be amazed by the delightful taste that these humble ingredients bring when combined.
To start, we toast the semolina in oil, releasing an irresistible aroma. Then, we cook the mixture in a hot syrup infused with cinnamon, clove, and lemon. The result? Simply delicious!
Tips for Perfection
To ensure the perfect Greek halva, follow these tips:
- Toast the semolina in oil until it becomes golden brown.
- Allow the semolina to darken and become fragrant, but be careful not to over toast it to avoid bitterness.
- Slowly and carefully add your hot syrup to the toasted semolina. Be cautious as the mixture will be very hot!
- Cook the halva until it thickens and becomes like a very thick paste. It’s important to cook it until it’s almost solid, as it won’t solidify much more after cooling.
- Stir the mixture throughout the entire cooking process.
Allow the halva to cool for about 1 1/2 hours before serving to achieve the perfect sliceable texture. When preparing the syrup, avoid stirring or blending it to prevent it from becoming grainy. Simply let the sugar dissolve in hot water and boil for a few minutes until it slightly thickens.
Ingredients for Greek Semolina Halva
The main ingredients for a traditional Greek halva are semolina, sugar, oil, and water. However, if you want to elevate the flavor and texture, consider adding some nuts. Toasted almond silvers are a personal favorite, while blonde or black raisins provide a delicious sweet bite.
For the semolina, I recommend using a mixture of coarse and thin semolina. If you prefer a grainy texture, use more coarse semolina. On the other hand, for a smoother texture, combine equal parts of thin and coarse semolina.
While vegetable oil works well, adding a touch of olive oil enhances the flavor. However, I don’t recommend using only olive oil, as it can overpower the halva’s taste. For the syrup, try substituting some sugar with high-quality honey to add extra flavor and a delightful stickiness. Honey also helps prevent crystallization.
To bring out the aromatic flavors of the traditional Greek halva, use common spices like cinnamon and clove. For an extra touch, a pinch of nutmeg works wonders. Don’t forget to include some lemon or orange peel in the syrup for a refreshing twist.
Serving the Greek Halva
Once the halva has cooled for about 1 1/2 hours, remove it from the tin by turning it upside down onto a platter, just like a cake. Garnish with a sprinkle of cinnamon powder and almond slivers.
If you can’t wait to indulge, spoon the mixture into individual bowls and serve it warm with a generous scoop of vanilla ice cream!
More Delicious Lenten Recipes
If you’re looking for other mouthwatering recipes to make during the Lenten season, here are some of my favorite lenten desserts that I’m sure you’ll love:
- Greek honey sesame bars (pasteli)
- Moustokouloura (Grape must cookies)
- Lenten Loukoumades
- Amazing Lenten chocolate sponge cake
- Walnut-filled crescent-shaped pastries (Skaltsounia)
- Olive Oil cookies (koulourakia ladiou)
Explore More Semolina-based Desserts
Halva is a versatile dessert ingredient! If you want to explore more semolina-based desserts, here are some recommendations that I’m sure you’ll enjoy:
- Galaktoboureko (Greek custard pie with phyllo)
- Samali (semolina cake with syrup)
- Melomakarona (Greek Christmas honey cookies)