Today is the beginning on Lent and the fasting period starts today on Kathara Deftera (Clean Monday). If you want to find more Lenten Recipes, I have made a post in the past and I shall try to update it with more recipes in a few days.
One of my favourite Lenten desserts, is Halvas which is a vegan dessert. You can find halvas or halwa in many cultures but each one has its unique taste, the Greek one being made with olive oil.
The classic halvas recipe has the following proportions: 1 cup olive oil, 2 cups semolina, 3 cups sugar, 4 cups water. You start by preparinge a sugar syrup and then semolina is browned in olive oil, just like making roux and then both are combined. Pouring hot syrup into hot roasted semolina is a bit tricky, as the syrup needs to be added quickly and it will splatter and even overflow if you are not careful, so if you are not experienced it is better to have someone helping you pour the syrup in the pan.
I love the classic recipe but find it boring to make the same thing over and over, so each time I love to experiment and add a new taste and flavour.
I was the first one to make halvas using spoon sweets and this year I have made something new with citrus and coconut. I love both of these ingredients and since I made a mixed citrus spoon sweet twice this year, I used some of the citrus syrup and pieces of the spoon sweet as well. In the spoon sweet I used bergamots, bitter oranges, oranges, lemons and tangerines. The tangerines were merely used for the flavour as they are very delicate and tend to fall apart by the time the remaining citrus is ready, so I left some of these bits of fruit on purpose in the syrup and also used some of the mixed citrus zest I had frozen when making the spoon sweets.
Preparation time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: about 20 minutes
Serves: 12 (1 mold – about 1 litre)
1 cup of mild extra virgin olive oil
2 cups Semolina flour (fine and coarse)
1 cup of desiccated coconut
For the syrup:
2 cups sugar
3 cups water
1 cup citrus spoon sweet syrup
1 tsp orange and lemon zest
3 -4 whole cloves
1 cinnamon stick
1 lemon peel
1 tbsp lemon juice
Desiccated coconut and cinnamon to sprinkle on top
2 citrus spoon sweets, cut into thin slices
In a sauce pan prepare syrup by adding the water, sugar, lemon peels, a few cloves and a cinnamon stick. Bring to a boil for five minutes and then add the citrus syrup and citrus zest and continue boiling for 1 more minute. Discard lemon peel, cinnamon stick and cloves and set aside.
In another large sauce pan, heat the olive oil and add the semolina and stir constantly to roast as if you are making a roux. Mix continuously for about five minutes on high heat and when it starts browning remove from the heat.
At this stage you will have to add the syrup but special care must be taken as it will bubble and start splashing, so another hand may be useful. However, if you are alone, start adding the syrup gradually and mixing with your other hand until you add it all. Put it back on low heat and keep mixing until it starts to set. Add the coconut and mix for a few more minutes until the semolina halva is thick.
Place in a mold and let it cool down before placing in the refrigerator.
Unmold in a platter and sprinkle with coconut and cinnamon on top and decorate with citrus spoon sweet.
Other relevant recipes:
Kopiaste and Kali Orexi!!