5 Ingredients or Fewer

Peanut Butter–Chocolate Halvah

March  2, 2020
6 Ratings
  • Prep time 2 hours
  • Cook time 10 minutes
  • Makes 1 loaf
Author Notes

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

What You'll Need
  • Marble halvah
  • 1 (1-pound/454-gram) jar unsweetened salted peanut butter
  • 1 2/3 cups (332 grams) granulated sugar
  • 3 ounces (85 grams) dark chocolate (preferably 60 to 72% cacao)
  • Chocolate topping (optional)
  • 3 ounces (85 grams) dark chocolate (preferably 60 to 72% cacao), melted
  • Flaky salt, for sprinkling
  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.)
  4. 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).
  5. 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.
  6. 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.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Guilherme Mello
    Guilherme Mello
  • Jennalynn
  • Roshni Bhatia
    Roshni Bhatia
  • Estee Chait
    Estee Chait
  • Emma Laperruque
    Emma Laperruque
Emma was the food editor at Food52. She created the award-winning column, Big Little Recipes, and turned it into a cookbook in 2021. These days, she's a senior editor at Bon Appétit, leading digital cooking coverage. Say hello on Instagram at @emmalaperruque.

17 Reviews

ChefGam November 10, 2021
Great recipe! Please let me know if you think other nut butters, such as almond butter, would work as well.
Guilherme M. April 19, 2021
Emma! Please make a video for the recipe! Please! :-)
Jennalynn October 22, 2020
Would this ship well? I'd love to mail it to someone!
Emma L. October 23, 2020
Yes, I imagine so! Just leave it unsliced and wrap well.
Jennalynn October 22, 2020
Question: Would this ship well?
Saraaaa April 3, 2020
Ugh, I just LOVE Arab food. <3
Roshni B. March 23, 2020
Hey! Can you substitute dark for milk chocolate?
Gari March 23, 2020
I substituted milk chocolate chips for dark in cookies once and they were way too sweet, personally I would stay w/the dark or maybe semi sweet at worst.
Emma L. March 23, 2020
Hi Roshni! Agree with what Gari said—milk chocolate would work, but would end up too sweet for my taste (personal preference, though!).
Gari March 22, 2020
Not to change your recipe, sounds great, but I am thinking of crunchy peanut butter and maybe a layer of salted caramel on top before the chocolate, too much?
Emma L. March 22, 2020
Hi Gari! The crunchy peanut butter would probably work, but it's hard for me to predict how the salted caramel would set (depending on the recipe you're using). If you give it a try, please report back!
KerriA March 4, 2020
This looks amazing! Could I use natural peanut butter for this?
Emma L. March 4, 2020
Hi KerriA—assuming you mean unsweetened by "natural" (some brands use this term in different ways), yes!
KerriA March 4, 2020
I’m thinking of the kind you have to stir really well when you first open it, then keep it in the fridge. It works great in some recipes, but tends to reseparate in some recipes.
Emma L. March 4, 2020
Yep, that sounds like unsweetened! That's what this recipe was developed with, so you should be good to go.
Estee C. March 4, 2020
This sounds lovely! I live in Israel- where halva is abundant(and quite expensive) and have thought about making it myself, but never got as far as looking for a recipe. It sounds easy and your instructions are written out well, I can’t wait to try it! Is there a candy thermometer you recommend?
Emma L. March 4, 2020
Hi Estee! I have a Thermapen by Thermoworks, which I love. It doesn't clip onto the pot like a candy thermometer would, so it's a little less convenient here—but for the amount that I make candy (not very often!), it does the job.