This may not sound too tempting but if you remember that halva is actually sweetened tahini, it starts to make sense. In fact, this confection is often called halva cookies even though it is made with raw tahini, which is more convenient for baking than halva. As opposed to the traditional Middle Eastern sweetmeat ma'amoul, tahini cookies are pretty much a modern invention. In the following version, tahini is enhanced with cinnamon and orange, a surprising and very effective combination.
Ingredients (for 50 about cookies)
250 g (9 oz) butter, softened
200 g (7 oz, 1 cup) sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon grated orange zest
1/4 teaspoon salt
180 ml (61/2 fl oz, 3/4 cup) raw tahini
450 g (1 lb, 3 cups + 2 tablespoons) flour
10 g (1 small sachet, 2 teaspoons) baking powder
3 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar
1 heaping teaspoon cinnamon
In a mixer beat the butter and the sugar for 4-5 minutes until fluffy and creamy.
Lower the speed and add vanilla, cinnamon, salt, orange zest and tahini. Beat to a smooth consistency. Add the flour and baking powder and process to a smooth and malleable dough. Cover and refrigerate for one hour.
Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F).
Mix the confectioners’ sugar with cinnamon in a small bowl.
Pinch small pieces off the dough and roll balls the size of large olives. Roll the balls in the sugar-cinnamon mixture.
Arrange the cookies on a tray lined with baking paper, spacing them. Bake for 15 minutes. The cookies should remain light colored. Don’t touch them until they cool completely or they will crumble. Store in an airtight jar.