Saturday, January 30, 2010

Saturday Splurge: Halwa Truffles

These were... amazing. Yes, I mean it. They fall into the "left-overs" category for me b/c there was a one-pound thing of halwa with just about a cup left, although I realize that some people may have trouble even finding halwa. First, what is it? It's a Mediterranean sweet (I used the Arab version) that's made from a base of sesame tahini. Wikipedia's take on it is here. It's something I was introduced to in Tunisia, and it's very sweet, but very good. If you like that kind of thing. If there is a Turkish/Middle Eastern/Arab grocery near you, I bet you could find it there.

While looking for North African dessert recipes, I stumbled across this recipe, posted by an Algerian woman now living in Malaysia(?) and knew I had to try it. That's her picture of them above. She calls it a truffle, and I like that so I'll stick with it, though it is a bit unusual. Instead of being chocolate coated with chocolate, it's a bunch of other tasty things coated with chocolate. She used orange flower water in the original, but I didn't feel like searching for it, so I used just plain water. She says you can replace the honey with jam if you want, which could add some interesting flavors as well. She used butter cookies but, not being able to find a good option, I went with graham crackers and upped the butter a little. It worked well. She also used almonds, and I went with that, but there is a store near me that also sells pecan and hazelnut meal, so I may have to try those sometime, too...

Halwa truffles
Makes: About 30 truffles Time: about 40 minutes, plus chill time.

1 cup of almond meal (or almonds -blanched or not- processed to a sand-like powder)
1 cup of coconut, processed into little bits (unsweetened would be good here, some stores sell it as "macaroon" coconut and it's already in small bits)
1 cup of halwa
3 graham crackers, crushed (doesn't have to be as fine as for a crust, but can be)
1/4 cup butter
3 Tablespoons honey (or jam)
water, to make dough stick
About 8 oz of good chocolate, to coat

- In a large bowl, blend the almond meal, coconut, halwa and graham cracker crumbs with a pastry blender until mixture resembles coarse sand. (Or mix them all in a large processor.)
- Add the melted butter and honey, mix thoroughly. Taste at this stage - if you think it's too sweet, add more graham cracker crumbs.
- Add water, one tablespoon at a time, just until you get a dough that will hold together in a ball. The texture will change quickly, so really do it just a bit at a time.
- Form into bite-sized balls. Freeze for about 20 minutes to solidify balls.
- Before removing from freezer, melt chocolate in the top of a double boiler. When melted, remove balls from freezer, coat, and place on wax paper to cool.
- Can be served more or less immediately, or kept in an air-tight container for up to two weeks, layers separated by wax paper.

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Try this and want to share how it went? Have questions before you try it? Let me know!