Once in a while I crave for halva. I buy then a big box of it in my Middle Eastern grocery store imagining myself eating it whole. But those who like halva, also know that a small piece of it goes a long way. Although delicious, halva--as many Middle Easter desserts--is also so sweet that a couple of bites can quickly satisfy the most unsatisfiable craving.
I usually buy Greek or Turkish halva, which is very finely grind, and turns in mouth into a sandy paste. My favorite is the plain vanilla, sesame seeds halva. I eat it until I feel totally "sweetened". Later, when I am very full, a two-pound box rests in my refrigerator for months, or until my mother, who is a big halva lover, visits and in a couple of weeks finishes that box for me.
A few years ago I found in Gourmet magazine a recipe for a cake using halva. It sounded perfect for halva leftovers that I had in the back of my refrigerator. I experimented with that recipe and prepared for my summer dinner party. All the guests loved it and could not really guess what I served--a frozen cake or ice cream cake? So I would rather call it a dessert than a pie. The fact that I served it after an outdoors dinner on a hot and humid summer evening made it even more perfect.
I made some changes to the original recipe and replaced sugar with honey, which is healthier and gives it a more interesting taste. I also like it more textured, so I did not dissolve halva completely, and added hot milk instead of boiling milk. And the last nice thing about this dessert is that it can be made ahead and kept in a freezer for about two weeks.
Frozen Halva Pie
(For a 9-inch pie plate)
Nine graham crackers, makes 2 cups of crushed,
5 tbsp unsalted butter (about 70g),
1/3 cup honey,
2/3 cup milk,
1/2 tsp vanilla,
1 cup crumbled, vanilla halva,
1 cup chilled heavy whipping cream,
1/2 cup shelled toasted pistachios.
1. Preheat oven to 350F.
2. Using food processor grind finely crackers. If you do not have a food processor, place crackers in a large plastic zip bag and using rolling pin crush them until they resemble bread crumbs.
3. Melt butter, add to the crackers, and mix well. You can do that in the food processor and run motor for one minute or mix in a bowl, using spoon.
4. Press the crumb mixture onto the bottom and the sides of a 9-inch pie oven dish--I use a flat bottom measuring cup or a small ramekin to press the crackers mixture.
5. Bake for 6-8 minutes, until the crust is darker. Cool down completely.
6. In a medium saucepan warm up milk until almost boiling. Add honey and remove from the heat and let it cool for about 5 minutes.
7. Add crumbled halva and vanilla essence to the milk. Mix until halva almost dissolves. Let the mixture cool completely.
8. In a medium bowl beat cream until stiff. Fold whipped cream into halva mixture and pour over cold crackers crust. Freeze uncovered for an hour.
9. Remove the pie from the freezer, sprinkle pistachios on top, and freeze again for 4 hours minimum.
Before serving let it stand at the room temperature for about 15 minutes, then cut and serve.