What happens when you task a health blogger (and creative genius) with recreating a beloved sweet confection? You get a dessert that is equally as delicious and decadent as it is good for you. This recipe for halva was designed by Anya Kassoff for her newest cookbook, The Vibrant Table. Anya is a Chalkboard-favorite food blogger whose recipes are always vegetarian, mostly vegan, sometimes raw, but guaranteed to be nothing short of heavenly. She has taken the classic halva ingredients of flour, butter and sugar, and replaced them with the nourishing and beautifying foods, oats, coconut butter and dates. Lucky for us she didn’t stop there. Loaded with practically every superfood on the Chalkboard’s kitchen shelves, these halva bars become more nutrient dense with each bite. With ingredients like hemp and chia seeds, cacao, bee pollen, goji berries and maca, a case could be made that these halva bars are not even dessert at all. So without further ado, here is Anya, the woman behind Golubka, sharing her thoughts from her Vibrant Table…
Halva is one of my favorite desserts. Whenever I see those irregularly shaped blocks of nuts and sugar at Middle Eastern markets, I lose all willpower. I can’t ever pick just one kind – sesame, sunflower, pistachio – they are all delicious in their own way. It’s no surprise that I wanted to create a healthier alternative so I wouldn’t feel a sugar overload after every burst of indulgence. This halva can be treated as a healthy snack bar and is great to make with kids. Let them measure and toss all the ingredients into the bowl, and teach them about each one along the way.
The Vibrant Table’s ‘Everything’ Halva
makes 24 small bars
5 large soft dates
1 cup raw walnuts
1 cup raw hazelnuts
1⁄2 cup raw sunflower seeds
1⁄2 cup rolled oats
1⁄2 cup raw Brazil nuts
pinch of sea salt
2 Tbsp maca powder (optional)
3 Tbsp coconut butter or coconut oil
2 Tbsp sesame tahini
1⁄4 cup pumpkin seeds
1⁄4 cup unhulled or hulled raw sesame seeds
1⁄4 cup hemp seeds
1⁄4 cup chia seeds
2 tablespoons quinoa puffs
1⁄3 cup goji berries
1 heaping Tbsp cacao nibs
1⁄2 Tbsp bee pollen
3 Tbsp honey
1. Place the dates in a medium bowl and cover with purified water. Let them soak while you follow the next few steps. Make sure your dates are very fresh, soft, and moist; if they’re not, soak them for several hours.
2. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
3. Spread the walnuts and hazelnuts on a baking sheet, place it in the oven, and toast the nuts for 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool. Meanwhile, spread the sunflower seeds on a separate baking sheet and toast them for 5 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool. Rub the toasted walnuts and hazelnuts with a kitchen towel to remove their skins.
4. Pulse the rolled oats in a food processor to partially grind them, about 10 pulses. Transfer into a large bowl. Add the walnuts, hazelnuts, sunflower seeds, Brazil nuts and salt to the food processor and grind to the consistency of breadcrumbs. Drain the dates, remove the pits, and add to the nut mixture in the food processor, along with the maca powder, if using, the coconut butter, and tahini. Grind until well combined and as smooth as possible.
5. Add the remaining ingredients to the large bowl with the rolled oats, followed by the nut-date mixture. Using your hands, combine everything very well. The mixture should be sticky and hold together when pressed between your fingers.
6. Line an 8 × 8-inch baking pan with parchment paper extending up the sides. Press the mixture into the pan in an even layer and freeze for 1 hour. Remove the pan from the freezer, lift the halva out with the parchment paper, and place the halva on a cutting board. Carefully slice it into bars with a large, sharp knife. It will keep refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 3 weeks. You can also store the bars in the freezer; they don’t harden completely, so you can eat them straight from the freezer.
Note: This recipe allows a ton of room for experimentation. You can modify the flavor by eliminating or adding different ingredients. Just make sure you keep the dry-to-wet ingredient ratio the same. Coconut flakes, hemp protein, flaxseeds, buckwheat crispies, pistachios, and dried fruits are some delicious alternative add-ins. Try raw walnuts, hazelnuts, and sunflower seeds or make the halva nut-free by using only sunflower and pumpkin seeds as a base.