Category Archives: Candy

Halva Studded With Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups

Halloween is on my mind.

I’ve always loved Halloween. From the scary stories to the cool costumes, Halloween is arguably the best time to be a kid. What kid wouldn’t want to run around with friends, sporting the costume of his or her favorite fictional character or real-life idol and collecting a lifetime supply of free candy?

Nowadays, however, Halloween doesn’t seem to carry the same magic for me. Maybe I’m just getting older. Honestly, at 16 years old, dressing up as someone else is probably the least appealing thing I can think of — I’m trying to figure out who I am after all, let alone act like someone else. Especially with college lurking right around the corner.

The only thing that holds that last glimpse of Halloween magic for me is the candy. With a sweet bite, I can take myself back to the days when I could go out and celebrate the holiday without worrying about studying for the following day’s tests.

And let it be known, not all Halloween candy is created equal. I have always been partial to the chocolaty candies, as the fruity ones tend to be cloyingly, tooth-achingly saccharine. Anything from Twix to Rolo to 3 Musketeers will do, but my all time favorite, however is Reese’s. The secret to this candy lies in the ratio — a perfect combination of smooth milk chocolate and salty, slightly gritty peanut butter. Yum.

Yesterday, the idea hit me that hit me that I should combine my favorite Halloween candy with a Syrian confection to feature on my blog. I realized that Syrian halva, which is a deliciously nutty, sweet, creamy-yet-crumbly sesame fudge, would go perfectly with Reese’s. Halva traditionally comes either studded with nuts or marbled with chocolate, so I thought that the peanut butter cups might just provide the best of both worlds to create a mind-bogglingly delicious dessert.

Boy, was I right.


Halva Studded With Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups

October 21, 2014


  • 1 1/2 lb tahini (sesame paste, can be found at most grocery stores)
  • 1 1/4 lb granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1 cup chopped Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups (or a combination of Reese’s, chocolate chips and peanut butter chips)
  • 1/2 Tbsp kosher salt


Grease two 9×5 loaf pans.

Measure out the sugar, water, and salt, and mix them together in a large pot.

Stir the sugar-water-salt mixture and scrape down the sides until the liquid reaches a boil, after which do not stir at all. Use a candy thermometer to make sure that it gets up to exactly 248F.


Meanwhile, measure out your tahini and microwave it for 1 minute.

(is my tahini tub big enough???)


Pour the warmed tahini into a stand mixer or large, sturdy metal bowl. Cover it to keep the tahini warm until the sugar comes to temperature.

Now is also the time to chop up the Reese’s.


Once the sugar reaches 248F, turn off the heat and carefully pour it into the warm tahini.

With the cover off to release steam, mix the tahini and boiled sugar on very low speed. It will look like a gloopy mess at first.


This is how the mixture should look after about thirty seconds. You can start to see clear lines, but it is still very gloopy.


After about a minute, the mixture will look crumbly but still moist, just like good cookie dough. Immediately stop mixing! If you mix more, your final product will be crumbly and not creamy.


Working quickly, spread 1/4 of the mixture into each loaf pan, and cover the rest of the mixture so it doesn’t dry out.

Sprinkle the chopped Reese’s on top (as you can see, I opted for a combination of Reese’s, chocolate chips, and peanut butter chips because that is what I had on hand. Just using Reese’s is absolutely fine).

Divide the rest of the tahini-sugar mixture in half, spreading each half over the top of the Reese’s layer. Don’t worry about the candy melting, it actually creates a lovely marble effect.


Spread the top layer evenly and press it down to make the halva nice and compact.

Cover the halva with plastic wrap and let it cool for at least an hour.
20141020_082406Once the halva is cool, cut it into cubes and serve! Or, for an even more decadent treat, try tipping the halva in tempered chocolate to create a sort of “Reese’s inside a Reese’s” effect.


And don’t forget, if you enjoy this recipe, please consider donating to The After School Special’s fall season charity for UNICEF’s Children of Syria fund below. Thank you so much!

Syria Donate Button

 {click the UNICEF button to donate to The After School Special’s fundraiser for children in Syria}

Quick Turkish Delight With Pumpkin Spice Variation


Many people have never experienced the magic of Turkish delight. Tragic, I know.

How could someone miss out on this sweet, sticky, chewy, ethereally smooth, prominently-flavored confection? Somewhere between chic pâté de fruit and the gummy candies of your childhood, Turkish delight is a unique, not-to-be-missed treat.

Although Turkish delight was first invented in Turkey, the confection spread quickly after its conception and soon became just as popular (if not more) in Syria and the rest of the Middle East.

I highly encourage you to give this simple candy a try. The recipe is astoundingly simple, using the microwave to cut the cooking time down significantly. And the end product is beyond worth it. Turkish delight is extremely versatile; it can take on endless flavor possibilities to suit your specific taste. This time I made the traditional lemon-rose flavor, as well as a special pumpkin spice variation to celebrate the start of fall.

So if you try this recipe and like what you’ve made, please consider giving back a small amount to Syria through The After School Special’s fall season charity for UNICEF’s Children of Syria fund.

So without further ado, the recipe:

 Quick Turkish Delight With Pumpkin Spice Variation

October 1o, 2014

 3 cups water

2 1/2 granulated sugar

1 1/2 cups + at least 1 cup extra powdered sugar, separated

2/3 cup + 2 tbsp potato starch (corn starch works as well), separated

1/4 cup gelatin (or 1/4 cup agar-agar powder)

1 tsp lemon zest (or cinnamon/other spices depending on desired flavor)

1/2 tsp rose water (or other extract of choice)

1/4 tsp salt

1/4 tsp cream of tartar

3 drops pink food coloring (or any other color!)

Turkish Delight

In a large, microwave-safe bowl, combine the water, granulated sugar, and gelatin/powdered agar-agar and microwave the mixture for a total of 14 minutes. Stir once or twice to break up the 14 minutes.

Meanwhile, sift together the cream of tartar, 2/3 cup of potato starch/cornstarch, and the 1.5 cup of powdered sugar. Stir the dry mixture in with the microwaved sugar-gelatin mixture, and microwave for 6 more minutes without stirring.


At this point, the base jelly should be thick and shiny, but still more liquid than solid.


Now is the time to add in your food coloring. For the lemon-rose flavored Turkish delight, simply stir in 2 drops of pink food coloring.

For the pumpkin spice flavored Turkish delight, use 3 drops of orange food coloring (or alternatively, mix one drop of red with two drops of yellow). My red food coloring was especially strong and caused for a slightly darker-than-desired finished product, so I recommend adding very little at a time to achieve the perfect color.


Once you’ve reached the perfect color, it’s time for the aromatics. For the lemon-rose flavored confections, stir  in the rose water and lemon zest. Dip a finger in to taste for flavor, and feel free to add more zest and/or rose water to suit your tastes.

For the pumpkin spice Turkish delights, stir in 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract and a rounded teaspoon of pumpkin pie spice ( equal parts ground cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and clove, adding up to a slightly overflowing teaspoon). Again, taste the mixture and continue to add vanilla and spice until the mixture fulfills your wildest pumpkin spice dreams.


Spray or oil a 9×9 baking dish (or two 9×5 loaf pans if you split the recipe to make both pumpkin spice and lemon-rose Turkish delight).

Now the hardest part: pop the pan into the fridge and wait for at least four hours to enjoy the fruit of your labor.


Four hours and significantly less patience later, slice the mass of jelly into 1 inch cubes with an oiled knife.

As you can tell, I was so excited that I forgot to take pictures before I took my first bite. Forgive me.


Gems, I tell you.

Right before serving, sift the last cup of powdered sugar with the 2 remaining tablespoons of potato starch/cornstarch, and coat each piece with the mixture.

Devour quickly. Un-coated pieces should be left in the pan in the refrigerator, and must be eaten within a week.



And don’t forget, if you enjoyed making this recipe, please consider donating to my fundraiser for UNICEF’s Children of Syria fund. Your every donation makes a big difference for a child in need!

Syria Donate Button

{click the UNICEF button to donate to The After School Special’s fundraiser for children in Syria}