When you hear halvah, you probably think of tahini (aka sesame seed paste). But the truth is, halvah can be made with all sorts of unsweetened nut or seed butters. In this case, we’re turning to peanut butter. Make sure you find one with no added sugar—often this is labeled as “natural”—since you’ll be adding in sugar yourself. Try to find a variety that’s salted (if you can’t, just add salt to taste before beginning the recipe). A super smooth peanut butter works best; I like the one from Trader Joe’s.
If you’ve never made halvah before, the great news is that it comes together like that. Which means you could make halvah before dinner and have it for dessert. That said, it also means you need to have everything ready to go before starting the recipe—think, lined loaf pan, measured and prepped ingredients, laid-out tools, etc—and please do read the method through once or twice, so you have the game plan down pat.
An instant-read thermometer is crucial here, since the sugar syrup changes a lot within a few degrees Fahrenheit. (For what it’s worth, once you buy one, you’ll find all sorts of beyond-halvah ways to use it, from making candy to cooking meat.) I like using a slightly smaller loaf pan (say, an 8 by 4, or 8 ½ by 4 ½) to end up with taller slices of halvah. But if all you have is a 9 by 5, that totally works, too. Well wrapped, this will keep for several days at room-temperature, or it can be frozen. —Emma Laperruque
- Prep time 2 hours
- Cook time 10 minutes
- Makes 1 loaf
- Marble halvah
(1-pound/454-gram) jar unsweetened salted peanut butter
1 2/3 cups
(332 grams) granulated sugar
(85 grams) dark chocolate (preferably 60 to 72% cacao)
- Chocolate topping (optional)
(85 grams) dark chocolate (preferably 60 to 72% cacao), melted
Flaky salt, for sprinkling
- Get everything ready: Line a loaf pan (see Author Notes about sizing) with parchment, so it’s flat on the bottom, with overhang on the two longer sides. Add the peanut butter to a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Add the sugar to a small saucepan, pour ½ cup water on top, and set over medium-high heat. Melt the 3 ounces chocolate in a double boiler or microwave.
- Cook the sugar, without stirring, until it reaches 245°F on a candy or instant-read thermometer—this should take 5 to 10 minutes. When it’s almost there (figure around 235°F), turn on the stand mixer to its lowest setting. As soon as the sugar syrup reaches 245°F, carefully carry the pot to the running stand mixer, and slowly pour it in, aiming for somewhere between the beater and bowl.
- After all the syrup has been added, mix for 28 seconds. (You can either count aloud, my preference, or use a timer. Just make sure you don’t go beyond or the halvah could turn out too crumbly.)
- Working quickly now: Turn off the mixer and unlatch the bowl. Drizzle the melted chocolate on top—squiggling as much as possible, versus pouring one big blob—and use a silicone spatula to fold a couple times, taking care to not overmix (you want it marbled, not blended).
- Scrape the marbled mixture into the loaf pan and use an offset spatula to smooth out (don’t worry if it looks slightly crumbly on top!). Cool on a wire rack until it’s room-temperature or cooler to the touch.
- If you want to top with chocolate, pour the remaining melted chocolate on top and use an offset spatula to smooth out. Sprinkle with flaky salt, then transfer to the fridge to firm up.