There are many versions of Halva, a native dessert from India that later on became very popular in Israel, Greece, Turkey, Palestine, Syria, Iran, Pakistan and Afghanistan.
Semolina, orange flower water, cardamom and nuts … It is a delight to eat alone it is soft, fragrant, fluffy and has a crunchy top.
It is a cake that might look a bit naive but once you try it, it becomes seductive and addictive …
This was once prepared and brought to my house by Antonio, Bessy’s husband: some very special friends with a delicious cooking philosophy defined by organic food, pure, minimalist and subtle. I’ve always insisted that they should open an underground restaurant in her house because besides their food, they pamper you in a relax atmosphere with tones, sounds and music that accompany them and lull you giving you peace and comfort. As Zimbabwe’s Stella Chiweshe and of course with so many detailed things you feel transported to the roots and origins of food, nourished physically and spiritually. I’m sure that in a recipe or other things you will be hearing about them many times throughout my blog.
for the cake:
- 8 tablespoons of unsalted butter, softened
- 1/2 cup sugar
- Zest of 1 orange, plus 2 tablespoons of juice
- 3 eggs
- 1 cup of semolina
- 2 teaspoons of baking soda
- 1 cup of ground hazelnuts
for the topping syrup:
- 1 1/2 cups sugar
- 2 cinnamon sticks
- Juice of 1 lemon
- 1/4 cup of orange blossom water
- 1/2 cup of hazelnuts, toasted and chopped
- 1/2 cup of almonds, toasted and chopped
- The shell of an orange grated
Preheat oven to 425 F.
Grease and line the bottom of a 9-inch square baking dish. In a bowl lightly beat butter until creamy.
Add the sugar, zest and orange juice, eggs, semolina, baking powder and mix the hazelnuts until it is incorporated and creamy.
Pour batter into the pan and bake for 20-25 minutes, until firm and golden. Let the pan cool.
To make the syrup, place sugar in a small saucepan with 2 1/4 cups of water and cinnamon. Heat slowly, stirring until sugar is fully dissolved.
Bring to a boil and boil rapidly without stirring for 5 minutes. Separate half of the syrup and add to the boiling syrup lemon juice and orange blossom water, pour over Halva.
Reserve the remaining syrup in the saucepan. Let the Halva cool in the pan until they absorb the syrup, then turn it over and place it on a plate, cut the portions diagonalaly in a diamond shape. Sprinkle with nuts.
Boil the remaining syrup until slightly thickened, and pour over Halva, sprinkle with orange zest. (It is optional to serve with whipped cream)