Cranberry Pistachio Halva | The Jewish Week | Food & Wine

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Cranberry Pistachio Halva

Cranberry Pistachio Halva

Cranberry-pistachio halva. Photo by Jessica Halfin

Makes about 3 dozen squares

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Simply the word for “candy” in Arabic, halva can be found in an endless variety of flavors these days throughout Israel.

The combination of brightly hued and deeply savory whole pistachio nuts and sweet –and-tangy dried cranberries is a festive mix that anyone would be happy to receive.

The process, though exact, is actually quite easy and quick if done right, making it an ideal choice for a DIY food gift, even for beginning candy-makers.

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2 cups tahini paste (stir the tahini before measuring, in case the oil has separated from the solids during storing)

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Few drops almond extract

2½ cups sugar

1 cup water

1 cup shelled pistachios

½ cup dried cranberries

  1. Line an 8×8-inch baking pan with baking paper, and set aside.
  2. In a microwavable bowl, warm the tahini for 1 minute in the microwave. Stir in the vanilla and almond extracts. Transfer to the bowl of a stand mixer, attach bowl to mixer, and leave to cool slightly.
  3. In a medium saucepan, combine sugar and water. Gently simmer until a candy thermometer shows the mixture has reached 235 degrees F (soft ball stage), about 5-10 minutes.
  4. Using a paddle attachment, turn on mixer and carefully pour the hot syrup down the side of the bowl.
  5. Beat on low to combine, then switch to high and continue to beat for about 5-7 minutes, until the mixture forms a dough-like consistency and pulls away from the sides of the bowl.
  6. Stir in the pistachios and the dried cranberries, and press evenly into the lined baking pan.
  7. Place in the fridge for 36 hours to set and crystalize.
  8. Cut into squares and wrap up for a festive gift.