Almond Butter Halawa

Serves: Makes ~40 servings
Cost: ~€5-6
Preparation time:  ~15 minutes cooking time and ~12-24 hours setting time
Calories: ~100 calories per serving

[dropcap style=”font-size: 60px; color: #0B0B61;”]Greetings all, I had originally intended posting something else today but when I looked over the photos I realised that it was ridiculously simple, and after posting two ridiculously easy recipes over the past few days I decided that maybe it might be fun to intersperse them with something which requires more than just one, lone step! So what am I posting today? Halawa, or Halva as it’s also known (among about 10 alternative different names and spellings) is an absolutely delicious confection served across the Middle East, the Balkans and eastern Europe. The primary ingredient is nut butter – most often Tahini paste – which is mixed with sugar. As it cools it will form a block of a crumbly, delicious, hardened paste-like mixture. You can either eat it on its own, or with something else, and a truly wonderful way to eat it is spread, with a little butter, on to fresh baguette.

What I didn’t realise, until researching Halawa was that there is actually another kind – a flour-based Halawa, usually made from semolina, which is common in south, central and western Asia. I absolutely love the nut-butter based one, so it’s only fair that I give the other one a shot – but not today! Today I’m sticking with what I know. As always, I love it if someone feels inspired enough to try something after seeing my posts, but in the case of Halawa, if you do feel like giving this a shot I feel I should share some notes beforehand. Firstly – you’re going to need a sugar thermometer before you get going on this. You have to cook the sugar and water solution to 125 degrees Celsius, and this part is fairely important. If you don’t get it hot enough the Halawa will not set properly. Too hot and the result will not be nicely crumbly and spreadable like it should be.


Another fair warning – you might not like this. If you’re fine with the taste of tahini paste then that’s awesome – imagine sweet, solid tahini paste, with delicious, crunchy pistachio nuts inside. Some people find this very dry and unpleasant to eat – I guess it’s a bit like Marmite – you either love it, or hate it :).

Anyway – today I’ve got a day off and I’m off to my favourite store in the whole wide world to buy such fun things as a new couch, new dining table and so forth – No doubt I’ll come back armed with myriad cookies as well from the food-store! Have a wonderful day everyone – I know I will. I’ll be back on Monday with either something to start off my English dish run or the “simple” dish I made last weekend.

Almond Butter Halawa

[learn_more caption=”Video Recipe”]


Halawa ingredients

  • 300g Caster Sugar
  • 240g Tahini Paste
  • 150g Roasted, shelled, unsalted Pistachio Nuts
  • 100g Almond Butter
  • 100ml Water

You’ll also need

  • A Sugar Thermometer


  1. Start by transferring the tahini paste and almond butter into a large bowl and whisking until well blended and smooth. Next, take an appropriately sized container – I used a small loaf tin, and oil the inside before lining with baking paper or aluminium foil.
    Lining a tin
  2. Next, place the sugar and water into a saucepan and bring to the boil. Using the sugar thermometer, bring the temperature of the solution to 125 degrees Celsius.
    Boiling the sugar and water
  3. When the mixture reaches the required temperature, immediately add in the Pistacho nuts and mix into the solution before removing from the heat.
    Adding the nuts
  4. Pour the sugar solution gradually into the tahini paste and almond butter mix while whisking well to blend together.
    Mixing in to the nut butter
  5. Pour the mixture into the prepared container and allow to cool before covering and placing in the refrigerator for ~12-24 hours, to completely set.
    Pouring into the tin
  6. When set, you can cut into slices and eat on its own, or serve spread on bread. Enjoy! :)


  1. says

    I do love Halva, Halawa, and the million other ways to spell it. I’ve always doubted the accuracy of my sugar thermometer hence never tried finicky recipes like this. You really made me want to make this, Charles. These look seriously good! I’ve forgotten how much I love eating these chewy, nutty things. I also have a weakness for Burfi, Barfi and a million other ways to spell that as well and so many variations! Chewy is my favorite version :)

      • says

        Haha, thanks Ping – I’ve never heard of Burfi actually… if you like halva and mention that in the same breath then I’m guessing it’s something I’d like – must investigate! Thanks for the idea :)

        • says

          Burfis or barfis are a type of Indian sweet, like a fudge, and often made with ground nuts (cashews, pistachios, almonds), coconut or semolina. Even chickpea flour (besan) can be used. There are several kinds in the sweet platter picture I posted in my Indian feast series.

  2. says

    Oh my goodness Charles, this looks amazing. I don’t think I’ve had this preparation before. Our family works through an entire bucket of almond butter weekly, so I have no doubt that halawa would be a big hit over here. So interesting too that pistachio is added to the almond (that’s not a complaint by any means!) what a nutrient rich slice. A perfect, post workout nibble. I suspect the pistachio provides a nice textural crunch to the smooth almond… gorgeous!

    • says

      Thanks Kelly – if there are any little middle-eastern stores or markets near you I’d really strongly recommend picking up a little tub of this before dunking a whole tub of tahini into trying it yourself. I think if you enjoy stuff like this, almond butter etc, then you should be set but some people *really* hate this stuff… added to the fact that I’m still trying to emulate the perfect piece at home which adequately matches the bought variety so I’d love it if you could try the “genuine article” first!

  3. says

    Charles, what an impressive accomplishment! Your halva looks absolutely delicious and soft. Is it soft? It is also so beautiful with the pistachios. Almond butter sounds intriguing. Is it marzipan?
    I will surprise you probably, but halva is one of the most frequent sweet treats I remember from my childhood. I remember it was extremely sweet and very crumbly, but because of the sugar it became sticky and slightly chewy in the mouth.

    • says

      Hi Sissi, thanks so much! It was soft, and a little crumbly. I think I could have done with boiling the sugar a little hotter, but I’ll remember for next time! :)

      Almond butter is actually exactly like tahini, but it’s made with almonds. The almonds are ground up so that they form a loose, oily paste. When stored in the jar the oil separates from the “butter” and you need to mix it to re-incorporate it again. It’s fun – you can add it to cookies and all sorts of things.

      You definitely need a nice cup of tea or something when enjoying some halva – it will definitely dry up the mouth, that’s for sure 😀

      • says

        Charles I’m sure I would prefer your soft version because the hard dry halva has always been very difficult to cut. Thanks for the almond butter explanation. It sounds very worth exploring.

  4. says

    Charles, I’ve never heard of this! I really love tahini and pistachios, so I would definitely enjoy this recipe. AND I’m forever looking for ways to use up the tahini left over after making hummus and baba ghanoush. This is going on my to-do list!

    • says

      Hi Jean – mmm, hummus and baba ghanoush. Personally, I’d say just make more of that! You can never have too much hummus in the house 😀 Let me know if you try this!

  5. says

    When you mentioned Marmite, Charles I gasped — not a big fan, glad you used the comparison just as a love/hate comparison, and not a flavour thing. I do love all the flavours you’ve laid out for us and although the execution is specific, it doesn’t seem too difficult. I actually adore this type of thing, and sadly so do my hips. Although I would definitely have a small taste if offered, I could not allow the risk of having an entire log in the house, sorry.

  6. says

    Charles, this is a favorite of my husband and he hasn’t had it in years. I’m going to have to go down in the basement and search for my candy thermometer. I haven’t used it it several years…I know it is down there somewhere collecting dust.

    • says

      Hi Karen – so nice to know there’s other halawa fans out there – I hope you’re able to cook him up a batch. Do let me know if you try it!

  7. says

    Hi Charles, I really love halva (as it’s called here down-under). I’m off to a dinner party tonight and I thought I would make it to take as a hostess gift but then I read through the list of ingredients – what is almond butter? If you could let me know that would be great. Thanks Charles and have a great weekend.

    • says

      Hi Charlie – almond butter is basically the same as tahini paste, but it’s made with almonds instead. You don’t actually need to use the almond butter – you can make the traditional version with just tahini, just replace the almond butter with extra tahini and you’re good to go! Don’t forget it can take a good 12 hours to fully solidify!

  8. says

    I’ve always wanted to know how to make it! Really great, and I bet tastes good too, I like pistachios a lot…
    Is it 100 calories per one of the small pieces? )

    • says

      Hi Marianna – it’s really yummy, and very easy to make. Full of really good vitamins, minerals, and oils too! I calculated the calories by presuming that the final yield would be split into roughly 40 portions, so it’s not too bad, calorie-wise.

  9. says

    Hello Charles,
    Know what, I love halwas. We make it with semolina, pumpkin, fig you name it, we would have made a puree and reduced it to a sloppy sinfully delicious dessert. I am loving your version. I have tried making a similar dish with cashews but no tahini. This recipe would have been a big hit with your family. I am so sure about that. Infact, the slabs look simple but they are really convincing that they taste ridiculously delicious.

    • says

      Thanks Vijitha – I had no idea semolina varieties existed – I’m really interested to try it now as well! Have you got any recommendations for a good recipe?

      I might try even more different nut butters next time, and really go mad with the nuts! :)

    • says

      Thanks Kay – it’s not to everyone’s taste, but if you like sesame and nuts, and things which aren’t *too* sweet, then I think you’d enjoy it!

  10. says

    I adore this but only evcer get to eat it when I go to London or some of the arabic tea shops in Granada. Never thought to make my own – just need to get hold of some tahini! And “yay”, I seem to have managed to resubscribe.

    • says

      Hi Chica – I’d really like to try even making my own tahini, though last time I tried that it was a complete disaster, so alas I can’t advise on that part – hope you’re able to locate some in a store!

  11. says

    I’d be one of those that might not like this, that said, I’m always willing to try new things. I think that Mr. N and Mike would like this for sure. They both enjoy anything and everything with tahini. Have a fantastic time shopping today!!!! That sounds like so much fun. :)

    • says

      Thanks Kristy – I’d be really interested to know if Mr N likes it – in my experience younger kids really hated this stuff, but maybe that’s just because they didn’t like tahini. If Mr N’s already enjoying tahini paste then his palate is already more advance than most kids (actually “all” kids) I know!!!

      As for the shopping – it was great :) I bought a giant pot plant and came back with it bursting out of the windows! I was mad because I wanted to buy a new couch and the assistant told me in the store that they would have to order the one we wanted, and it takes 6 weeks. I found out later that they actually had the model I wanted available in store – just not that specific colour! I didn’t want that specific colour anyway… you’d think she’d have told me (especially since the ones in a different colour/material were €200 cheaper!!!!!).

  12. says

    As a kid I loved the plain and chocolate marbled halva I used to get every once in a while but I haven’t eaten it in ages. I’d love to make something similar (the Indian ground nut burfis or fudges) one of these days. Thank you for another great recipe and happy shopping. :)

    • says

      Thanks Kiran – you’re so kind to say :) It’s fun to try new things. I might not always succeed, and indeed have had some disasters in the past, but I love trying!

  13. says

    Hi Charles, thanks so much for posting this recipe. My husband’s mom’s side of the family are Armenian and they love Halva! I tried it for the first time this summer and didn’t care for it, I don’t think they used almond butter. Plus the color was much lighter and it was real chewy. But your reicpes sounds like a winner, it looks so creamy and buttery with a nice crunch.

    • says

      Hi Lisa – personally, I think I prefer the tahini-only version. It’s still a very dominant flavour, even in this one, so perhaps you wouldn’t like it. I love how it’s crumbly and almost dry, but at the same time being squishy and soft. Great stuff! :)

  14. says

    I admire your innovative cooking.. every time I visit there is something new you’ve tried out!! A unique Halva this time, delicious!! I’m quite familiar with Halvas made from semolina and flour based ones from India, but never heard of the tahini based ones. You’ve inspired me to make the Indian version just by looking at that photo of the slices with the lovely pistachios:)

    • says

      Thanks so much Malli – I really want to try the one with semolina next. I had no idea it existed until researching halva for this post. Do you know any good recipes?

  15. says

    I like most versions of halva (although I once made a carrot halva I didn’t care for). I like all nuts and nut butters, currently possessing peanut butter, cashew butter, tahini and Nutella, plus walnuts and almonds. There may be some winning combination in there…plus, I may have developed an urgent need for simple recipes — more on that tomorrow.

    • says

      Carrot Halva?! Wow, that’s a new one for me. I’m thinking Nutella in this might be the epitome of awesomeness 😀 Hope you’re feeling better soon by the way :)

    • says

      Thanks Sydney – It’s definitely worth a try… or two. I didn’t like it the first time I tried it. After though I realised just how cool it was! :)

  16. says

    Hope that you had fun shopping. Your halva looks amazing…I’m sitting here very hungry after a morning of skiing and what I wouldn’t give for a bit of that, as I definitely don’t have the energy to make it. You score high marks for originality on your blog Charles — I don’t know anyone else who has attempted halva. I did make your baked eggs on the weekend, as I couldn’t resist given how easy they were. The nutty taste was quite nice…although I don’t know that it is something I would make very often given the time involved. Thanks for introducing me to something new!

    • says

      Thanks Barb – I had a lot of fun shopping.. bought some nice furniture!

      I’m glad you had a chance to make the eggs. I tried making something this weekend which, in total, ended up being baked for 20 hours. I won’t be posting that – it was a disaster :'(

  17. says

    I’ve heard of Halva, but wasn’t sure what was in it and have never tried it. It sounds intriguing and I do love tahini. Yours looks really beautiful Charles, from beginning to end!

    • says

      Hi Sawsan – you can make the tahini only version – just replace with almond butter with extra tahini and you’ll get the more tradition version. I just fancied jazzing it up a bit :)

  18. says

    Wait a minute! Is this your first video recipe?! Or was I blind and didn’t see this before?? OMG I feel terrible. After I read the intro, I always scroll down to recipe (with the pictures as I look forward to see the step by step), and somehow I missed the Video Recipe! I’m so sorry! You are amazing… I can’t believe how much work you put in each post… I enjoyed hearing your voice and watching how to make it. It’s too high tech for me to make a video but I do enjoy watching you cook. =)

    • says

      Hi Nami – it’s far from my first video recipe 😀 I’ve posted about 14 on Youtube already and seem to be getting quite the little collection of fans 😀 For some reason, my marmalade video has like 12,000 views… I have no idea why… it’s one of my earliest videos, and so bad! 😀

      Glad you enjoyed it though! :)

  19. says

    Wow Charles! I love this. I tried it at a dinner party once, I don’t believe the hostess had made it herself, but was taken back by the dryness however I remember the flavor and taste. I love the pistachios throughout this. And…video recipe?? I can’t keep up with you! So I won’t even try, I’ll just remain very impressed. (and btw, I’m finally doing the switch this week to self-hosting, my fingers are crossed that on 3/1 all will transfer smoothly!!)

    • says

      Hi Linda – lol, I’m surprised people are only noticing my video recipes now… how strange 😀 I’ve been doing them for almost every post for a while (not the eggs or the vinegar though) 😀

      I hope everything goes well with the hosting switch… let me know if I can help at all!

  20. says

    I hated halva/halva for a while, but then when I move to the middle east, I discovered the Iranian halva and the others, I changed my mind! It’s wonderful.

    Did you know there is chocolate halwa? I still like the one with pistachios, the crunchy nuts are a treat!

    Between, Halawa (with a between l and w) also means the natural sugar waxing that women use in the arab world…I’m sure it’s made of edible ingredients but I don’t think it’s made for eating..

    I’ll save your recipe, I think I’ll give it a go! I miss halva already now that I left Qatar!

    • says

      Yeah, you know – the first time I tried it I couldn’t stand it. I was trying to scrape the dry powdery film out of my mouth, but it really grows on you (and not like a fungus! :D)

      I’ve heard of the chocolate one – A_Boleyn mentioned it above… it sounds amazing. I’ll be trying it next! Do let me know if you try this… it’s really very good :)

  21. says

    Ooh, I feel like this is something I would totally love. I love nut butters and I just recently discovered marzipan (who knew it was so delicious?) This looks delicious, kind of like nougat.

    • says

      Hi Kyleen – it’s a special flavour – not everyone appreciates it, that’s for sure, but if you like nut butters in general you should be good to go :). I used to absolutely adore marzipan when I was a kid. Nowadays I find it hard to eat too much… it just seems so sweet :(

      Speaking of nougat, that’s another thing I’ll be making sometime too… good French-style nougat – yummy! :)

  22. says

    My comment is an entire week late. I’m sorry. But for the past week I’ve been thinking about this great post! I never would’ve thought that of all middle eastern things you’d make halawa! I love the stuff but had no clue how it’s made. I have to agree with you on the love/hate thing, I used to hate it “just because” but now I love it… and especially with the chopped pistachios! I’m bookmarking this to try one day… alongside your cinnamon rolls, pita bread, and oh so many things!

    • says

      Haha, no worries Fati – I was hoping you’d get a chance to see the post :) I never even knew there was a semolina version made in Asia – I want to give that a try next I think :)

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