Halva was one of my favourite treats when I was growing up. Something about it's unique texture like fine shards of flakey toffee, mixed with a bitter creaminess that just melts away in your mouth. My mother would buy me some from the deli as a treat, wrapped up in butcher paper like a small gift, along with the other separately wrapped delights - generally german sliced meats and maybe a slab of cheese. We would get home, and I would unwrap it then carefully flake off little pieces at a time and sit and savour them.
I wanted to capture the unique flavour of halva in these little biscuits, and adding a little strawberry and rosewater adds another dimension again. I was quite surprised when the unique texture was maintained a little in the form of shortbread, and how the distinctive flavour permeates right through.
A must have for halva addicts, and newbies
This recipe makes around 40 filled biscuits.
Your will need a 4cm round cutter, two baking trays, baking paper, a piping bag with a rosette nozzle and a rolling pin.
Total Cooking time: Around 2 hours
Baking time: 10-12 minutes
250g unsalted butter, cold
30g caster sugar
20g rice flour
340g plain flour
100g vanilla halva
1 tsp vanilla bean paste
a good pinch of sea salt
Strawberry and rosewater halva butttercream:
125g unsalted butter, at room temperature
3 cups of pure icing sugar
50g vanilla halva
2 tablespoons freeze dried strawberry powder
1/4 - 1/2 teaspoon rosewater
2-3 tablespoons milk, at room temperature
1/2 cup white chocolate buttons
dried edible rose petals
To make the biscuits
Preheat the oven to 160 deg Celsius - fan forced (175 deg celsius non fan forced)
For the shortbread:
Remove any outer ‘skin’ from the halva. This as the part of the halva which becomes abit gooey when exposed to air. Crush the inner halva and the caster sugar together with a fork until in becomes finely crumbed.
In a food processor, pulse together the sugar and halva mix, flour, rice flour, salt and vanilla until well combined. Cube the butter and add it to the flour. Pulse everything together again until you have a cohesive dough.
Remove the dough. Lightly work it into a ball, then flatten it into a round disc shape. Wrap the dough in clingfilm and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
When the dough as chilled, place it between two sheets of baking paper on a bench and knock it a little with a rolling pin to flatten, before rolling it out to about 0.3mm thick.
Cut out 4cm circles of dough. Use a spatula to carefully lift the circles onto a tray lined with baking paper. Spike each circle with a fork.
Place the tray back in the fridge with the circles of dough and chill for another 10 minutes.
Bake for 10-12 minutes until just starting to colour. Cool the biscuits on a wire rack.
For the buttercream filling:
Crush 50g of halva as above, removing the outer skin first.
Beat the butter with the icing sugar and halva until pale and fluffy. Beat in the strawberry powder and rose water until well combined, then add enough milk to create a soft, light filling which is able to be piped into the biscuits.
Pipe rosettes of buttercream onto one half of the biscuits. Top with another biscuit.
Melt the chocolate in 20 second bursts in the microwave using a microwave proof bowl, until just melting. Stir to melt completely.
(alternatively you can melt the chocolate over a double boiler)
Drizzle or flick the chocolate over the top of the filled biscuits with a teaspoon.
Sprinkle some dried edible rose petals on top.
These biscuits keep well in the fridge in an airtight container although may soften a little.
They are also great unfilled as little shortbread treats in which case they will keep in an airtight container.
Delicious with a glass of milk and a soothing light.