Thursday, December 8, 2011

Sesame Candy














Today is a recipe for a healthy candy.  A healthier one, anyway.   You might have seen honey-sesame bars in the natural or ethnic foods aisles.  According to that middle-eastern repository of culinary knowledge, wikipedia, sesame seeds are high in vitamins and anti-oxidants. They can also help reduce blood cholesterol.   Sesame candy also contains honey,  containing trace amounts of essential nutrients.  And lemon juice is just chock-full o'vitamin C.  Wow!  I feel healthier just thinking about eating this stuff!














Although most of the sesame seed products in the supermarket are in the middle-eastern aisles, they are not just a middle-eastern food item.  Versions of sesame candy are available all around the world wherever sesame plants grow.  Greece has Pastelli.  Israeli has Sukariyot Sumsum.  Puerto Rico's has dulce de ajonjoli. And India has Til Burfi, among others.  Although each country uses its own unique ingredients and spices, the basic recipe is still the same.














This recipe is originally from Herbal Food. One-quarter of the white sesame seeds were replaced with black ones, mostly because I happened to have a jar of it in my pantry.  It's not enough to affect the flavor, but it sure looks pretty.  In any event, both kinds of seeds came pre-roasted (found in the oriental aisle ... my local Try-n-Save sure has lots of aisles ...).  If you prefer to roast seeds yourself, heat a saute pan over medium-high heat.  Add seeds then stir constantly just until seeds start to have brown tinges (about 2 minutes).  Immediately remove from heat (they will continue to toast from residual heat).  

As I have mentioned in previous posts, temperature is critical ... a few degrees off can result in sesame caramel.  Not necessarily bad, but not what we are aiming for here.

Speaking of temperature, use a wooden spoon for stirring.  If you insist on using a metal spoon, be sure to wear an oven mitt to avoid burning your dainty fingers. If you have a nylon spoon, check for it's maximum temperature resistance.  Melted nylon or plastic might affect the flavor a tad.

Haven't mentioned it often enough, but my new favorite kitchen utensil is  a silicon baking sheet.  It is the greatest tool in the world for candy-making.  No need for butter nor grease.  It laughs at nuclear-hot molten candy.  And, after several weeks of non-stop candy-making, I actually hear its laughter ... it's even louder than screaming tomatoes.  But I digress ...   


Sesame Seed Candy
Based on a recipe from Herbal Food

1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup honey
2 Tbl. water
1 tsp. lemon juice
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp. salt
3/4 cup white sesame seeds mixed with 1/4 cup black sesame seeds, or all white seeds

Set a silicone baking sheet on a large regular baking sheet.  Alternatively, line a large rimmed baking sheet with foil; heavily spray with cooking spray.  Set aside.














Combine sugar, honey, water and lemon juice in a 2 quart saucepan over medium-low heat.  Stir continuously, with a wooden spoon, until sugar is dissolved.














Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, then insert a candy thermometer.  Continue to cook, stirring occasionally with wooden spoon, until temperature reaches 300F, about 20 minutes. 














Remove from heat.  Stir in cinnamon, salt and sesame seeds.














Carefully pour molten candy onto prepared baking sheet.














Try to nudge lava candy into a rectangle shape for ease of cutting into uniform-sized pieces later.  When cool enough to handle but still slightly warm (5-15 minutes, depending upon kitchen temperature), peel candy slab from pan and place on cutting board lined with wax paper.













Cut slab longways into inch-wide lengths, then cut crossway into bars, squares or diamond shapes (as shown).  Occasionally peel candy slab and long lengths from wax paper to prevent permanent bonding.  As it cools, it will lose its stickiness, but will be much more difficult to cut.  Shattered candy doesn't lose its flavor, but it's not as pretty.

Allow candy to cool completely.  Store at room temperature in single layers between wax paper in a tightly covered container for a week.  For longer storage, freeze.  Defrost, still in container to prevent condensation.














Ooh, shattered pieces scooted all the way out here!

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