Recipe for homemade sesame candy made with toasted sesame seeds, honey and sweet spices. Impressive appearance. An unexpected holiday food gift, easy to pack and ship.
For years, my mom loved these verrrrry chewy sesame candies from Turkey, the Middle East and all around the Mediterranean. Where she found such exotica in small towns in the northern plains, who knows? How her dental work survived, who can guess!
Fast forward 30 years to me fast-flipping through a tall stack of recipes glued onto 3x5 cards during my first years of cooking. Many recipes no longer appeal – there's that Midwestern reliance on cans of mushroom soup for every "hot dish" and a box of Jello for every "salad" – but a surprising number do.
The recipe for this sesame candy appealed instantly, just a few ingredients, a simple technique – and the inner giggle that my mom would have rolled her eyes at the very idea of her daughter making homemade sesame candy.
Sorry, Mom! Call me pleased with the results! The toasty-nutty sesame seeds are half dark amid the honey-sweet, subtly spiced and chewy candy.
Plus, these little candies keep! and they're sturdy! This makes them good candidates for make-ahead food gifts, especially for shipping. Just make sure to pack the pieces between sheets of waxed paper.
We'd go broke, however, buying sesame seeds in the spice section of the grocery store, where small jars can be $8 or $10. In an international grocery, for anyone lucky enough to have one nearby, a big bag of sesame seeds is just a couple of dollars. I like the dramatic look of a few black sesame seeds tucked into the candy but light-colored sesame seeds are traditional and very pretty too.
SESAME CANDY CRUNCH
Time-to-table: 90 minutes
Enough for an 11x15 tray, about 80 pieces
- 2 cups sesame seeds
- 2 tablespoons black sesame seeds, optional
- 1/2 cup honey
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon table salt
Butter both a baking sheet and either a sheet of parchment or a silicone mat.
In a large skillet or Dutch oven, toast the sesame seeds on medium heat until golden and aromatic. (TIPs: Keep a few untoasted sesame seeds nearby for comparison. The color change is subtle. If using both light and dark sesame seeds, toast them separately so the changing color is more obvious.) Stir very often at the beginning, then continuously as the seeds begin to turn color. (TIP: They turn fast from perfect to burned so do keep stirring, do be ready to transfer to a cool container waiting as soon as they're done so the heat source is removed.) Set aside.
In the same skillet, mix the remaining ingredients. Bring to a boil on medium heat, stirring continuously, then let boil for 2 minutes, still stirring. Remove from heat.
Working quickly, stir the seeds into the hot sugar mixture. Transfer immediately to the baking sheet, spreading as best you can with a spatula. Place the buttered parchment or silicone mat on top (buttered side down, of course) as protection from the hot sugar, then use the palm of your hand to press the seeds into an even and thin sheet. (TIP: Finish with a rolling pin for thin, even pieces.)
Still working quickly, with a knife, score the sesame candy into diamond-shaped pieces. Once the entire piece is marked, go back and cut clear through. (TIP: To skip the cutting step, let cool for 15 minutes. Lift the entire sheet off the baking sheet, break candy into pieces.)
Store in layers separated by wax paper.
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