Christmas day is past but we still are still celebrating in our house and will be until Epiphany. I finally got the popcorn garland finished today and put it on the tree. As usual I was a bit of a mad woman trying to cook and bake and sew and clean, host parties, go to parties and do every other activity that I do in preparation for Christmas. Right now I am enjoying the fruits of my labor by eating left overs, sleeping in and listening to Christmas music non-stop.
For Christmas gifts, our family typically assembles a few homemade goodies for family and friends. This year I decided to try my hand at one of my all time favorite foods. It is a Greek candy called Pasteli . I just learned the official name but I grew up eating these out of my Yiayia’s candy dish. When I moved away she would send me boxes in little care packages and snacking on theses sweet candies sustained me through many an exam and night on call.
As far as candies go they are reasonably healthy. The version I grew up with and attempted to make contained only honey and sesame seeds. Others may contain sugar, nuts like pistachios and spices like cinnamon and ginger. The preparation is relatively simple and requires no baking or special equipment. The trick, which I haven’t mastered yet is getting the consistency just right. You can enjoy them anyway but I want mine to be crunchy. For my Christmas baking I made three batches. The first came out perfectly crisp, just like I remembered them. My next two stayed chewy, still good but a little messier to serve and eat. Substituting some of the honey for sugar (something I’m not willing to do yet) may help give a crunchier end product. Still even my batches that didn’t come out just right were a big hit with guests and this will likely become a new staple for sweet snacking in my house. Here is the quick and easy recipe.
Sesame Seed Candy (Pasteli)
1 1/2 cup sesame seeds
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon honey
- Lay a piece of parchment paper on the counter, coat it with a thin layer of butter or oil.
- Toast sesame seeds over medium heat until the color changes to a slightly golden brown but do not burn. Set them aside.
- In a small sauce pan warm honey, bring it to a boil and cook it over medium/high heat for 2 minutes, stir so it doesn’t burn.
- Add seeds to honey and cook for 10 minutes, stirring to prevent scorching, until the mixture takes on an even deeper golden brown color. Longer cooking should yield a crispier candy where shorter cooking should give a softer candy.
- Pour hot seeds and honey onto the parchment paper. Place another sheet of parchment paper over top. With seed mixture sandwiched between two layers of parchment paper roll with a rolling pin until candy is about a quarter inch thick.
- Allow to cool.
- While still slightly soft but mostly cool transfer to a cutting board and slice into squares or strips.
- Once completely cool store in an air tight container layered with parchment paper in a cool dry place. If you want to store for more than a week consider switching to the fridge or freezer.
Enjoy this tasty and healthy Greek treat.