How to cook halva, and banana pumpkin-seed bread

05 April 2019

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ARE you feeling a little seedy at this stage of Lent? You need a wonderful recipe for Halva — the perfect Easter bonne bouche that doesn’t require any sugar. This recipe does not require candying honey to a “soft-ball” stage, which would give that distinctive crystalline texture of most kinds; so it is easy to make and good for you. This recipe makes a comfortable-sized block with a chocolate topping of about 4 in. x 7 in.

100g (4 oz) pitted dates
1 tablespoon tahini (sesame paste)
4 tablespoons ground sesame seeds
1 teaspoon real vanilla extract

For the topping:

2 tablespoons coconut oil
1 tablespoon coconut sugar
1 tablespoon raw cacao powder
½ teaspoon real vanilla extract
 

Line a small box or tin with cling film. Chop the dates and soak them in a little water, bringing them to the boil to soften them. Blitz them to a smooth paste with a stab mixer, and then add the tahini and the ground sesame seeds and vanilla. Spread this in the box and level with a spatula. Melt the coconut oil and coconut sugar in a small pan, allowing the coconut sugar to dissolve. Stir in the cacao and vanilla and allow it to cool slightly. Then pour it over the halva and allow it to cool and harden in the fridge.

Or you might need this Banana pumpkin-seed bread adapted from Cooking for Fitness by James Haskell and Omar Meziane (James Haskell Health & Fitness, 2018.

The original recipe called for pumpkin seed and sunflower seed butter, half and half; but I always use almond butter. It also suggests caster sugar, but I substitute coconut sugar for extra flavour and its health benefits. I also like to make mine in a nine-inch square tin, to maximise the surface area — more pumpkin seeds! — and it also cuts nicely into squares.

3 ripe bananas — the riper the better
4 tablespoons nut or seed butter
100g (4 oz) coconut sugar
1 teaspoon real vanilla extract
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
½ teaspoon baking powder
1 egg
200g (8 oz) plain flour (I use wholemeal flour)
a handful of pumpkin seeds
a handful of sunflower seeds
 

Preheat the oven to 180ºC/350ºF/Gas 4, and line a square tin with baking parchment. Mash the bananas and add the seed or nut butters. Add the rest of the ingredients except the flour, and mix well. Then fold in the flour. Alternatively, whizz the whole lot together in a food processor or mixer. Spread the mixture evenly in the tin, and bake for about 50 minutes to an hour, depending on the size and shape of your tin, until a skewer or a knife will come out cleanly. Cool for a few minutes in the tin, and then on a wire rack.

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