Marc’s halvah post had me contemplating sesame seeds. I have always really enjoyed the flavor of sesame seeds and am fascinated by their versatility in both sweet and savoy dishes. My personal preferences generally categorize certain flavors and seasonings as sweet or savory and never the twain shall meet, but sesame I like in a variety of forms. One of my favorites is in sesame candy. My first exposure to it was the packaged variety from the Brooklyn based kosher candy maker Jovya. (they also make packaged halva and an odd array of kosher marshmallow product) Later I discovered an almost identical treat in Asian grocery stores. In general, every country on the Asian continent and around the Mediterranean has a recipe for sesame seed candy, all of which call for sesame seeds and some form of sugar to be cooked, cooled, and cut. (Indians call it Til Gajak, the Greeks, Pastelli and of course, Sukariyot Soomsoom in Hebrew) This isn’t surprising given that sesame seeds are one of the world’s oldest know condiments and have been incorporated, in someway, into most cuisines. Additionally, sesame seed have high nutritional content, being a good source of fiber, protein, iron, and calcium. This way you can almost claim that this is a healthy candy…and it is incredibly easy to make and allows me to use more of my honey. These candies are a particular favorite among the Sephardim, and Israelis, as a Hanukkah treat.
recipe after the jump
Just a few tips before I delve into the recipe:
- Sesame seed can be purchased in bulk quantities for a reasonable price anywhere bulk grains and beans are sold (i.e. Whole Foods) or in Middle Eastern or Asian groceries .
- This particular recipe is for a chewy candy. If you prefer it hard, you will need a candy thermometer and cook the sugar-honey mixture up to 300°F
- Have all of your containers and pans prepped and ready to go before you begin as you need to move quickly and mold the candy before it cools too much.
- If you have a silicone baking mat this is the time it will be invaluable, but you can use waxed paper.
- If you used waxed paper, do not go work on your blog entry while the candy cools or you will discover you have left it for too long and the waxed paper is permanently affixed to the candy and you will have to start over.
Sesame Seed Candy (Sukariyot Soomsoom)
- 4 cups sesame seeds
- 1 cup brown sugar packed
- 1 cup honey
- Line a baking sheet (appx 17×12) with either a silicone baking mat or waxed paper. Have an additional sheet of waxed paper handy.
- In a non-stick pan over low heat, toast the sesame seeds until golden brown. Stir the seed constantly to achieve even browning. Remove seed from pan and set aside.
- Add the sugar and honey to the pan and cook over low heat until the sugar has melted and begins to bubble.
- Add the sesame seed and stir until evenly coated.
- Quickly transfer the mixture to the lined pan and spread until even. Then top the pan with the second piece of waxed paper and smooth out the surface. You can do this with a rolling pin or pressing on the surface with the bottom of a second baking pan of the same size. Immediately remove the top waxed paper.
- One the mixture has cooled so that it will hold its shape but is still warm (about 5-10 minutes) loosen the edges with a knife and invert the pan onto a cutting board.
- Remove the bottom baking mat or waxed paper and you should have a smooth shiny surface for your candy. Use a sharp knife to cut into square or diamond shapes.
- Store in a zip-lock bag or airtight container with waxed paper between any layers.