Semolina Helva, or helva in general, (as it’s known in Turkey — halvas in Greece, halva in the Middle East, and halwa in India and Pakistan) is a group of desserts based on either starch like flour or semolina, or nuts like sesame seeds. Yet, the dessert is one of the most traditional Turkish desserts and it is totally worth giving it a try!
Dessert helva in Turkish cuisine is prepared by browning large amounts of semolina or flour in butter, then adding sweetened milk or water to create a soft, cooked paste. Helva desserts vary greatly from region to region and family to family. Moreover, they and are a good example of Turkish regional cuisine. Every cook has a slightly different way of flavoring their helva. Some prefer it plain, while others add flavors like rose water, vanilla, cinnamon, and orange zest.
- 3 1/2 cups semolina
- 1 3/4 cups unsalted butter
- 2 1/4 cups sugar
- 3 1/2 cups milk
- 1/3 cup pine nuts
- Cinnamon for garnish
In a medium saucepan, combine the milk and sugar. Heat the milk until scalding. Stir it occasionally until the sugar dissolves, then remove it from the heat.
Melt the butter in a large saucepan. Add the pine nuts and the dry semolina. With a wooden spoon, turn the semolina over and over until it’s all coated with butter. Continue to turn over and stir the mixture constantly until it turns golden brown and the pine nuts darken.
Keep stirring to keep it from burning, especially around the edges of the pan. Turn off the heat.
Pour the hot milk mixture into the semolina. Let it bubble up and settle. Stir it well to make sure the butter and pine nuts are distributed evenly throughout. Cover the saucepan leaving the lid on crack.
Let the helva rest until all the liquid is absorbed and it’s cool enough to handle. When you’re ready to serve it, you can break up the mixture using a wooden spoon or your fingers. ‘Helva’ is best when it’s still warm. You can serve helva in a loose pile or use a small bowl as a mold.
Sprinkle some cinnamon on top before serving. Warm helva is delicious alone or with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.
So, tell us if you liked our recipe. It is such an easy recipe that you can cook it at home with closed eyes. Be sure to give it a try and share with us how delicious yours is!