Hazelnut Semolina Halva


with fruit and nuts topping

I never cared much for store bought (h)alva, but I adored my Nan's home made one. She made it with flour, the way her mother used to make it, but it's either that they were better cooks than me and my Mum or we are missing something of that recipe because it never turned out the same. 
When I came across this ridiculously easy recipe with semolina that takes about 15 minutes to make and doesn't require sugar syrup, it became one of my favourite instant desserts, specially because it's an excellent playground to experiment with different ingredients that I have at hand. This time I happened to have hazelnut, pistachio, oranges, dry berries and pink pomegranate. I must say that the orange topping over some toasted hazelnuts and vanilla is leading the chart.

Hazelnut Semolina Halva

65 g semolina
50 g butter
50 g sugar
1 tsp vanilla sugar
200 ml milk
40 g crushed toasted hazelnuts

Topping: toasted nuts (almond, pistachio, hazelnut), dry of fresh fruit of your choice - I used 2 slices of orange for one plate and dry berries and fresh pink pomegranate for the other.

Melt the butter then add semolina and fry for about 5 minutes over moderate heat, until semolina becomes slightly dark in colour.When almost done add the hazelnuts. Now, stir the sugar, combine it well with semolina and add the milk and vanilla. Stir constantly, until the mixture becomes thick and compact so you can almost (using a spatula) turn it over in one go.
Take the mixture out onto a plate and pat firmly into a desired shape, about 2 cm thick. When warm, sprinkle with more chopped hazelnuts and pistachios and place two freshly cut slices of orange on the top. Alternatively use cranberries and fresh pomegranate seeds.
Some like it warm some like it cold, it could be easily warmed up in a microwave, or in the oven (make sure you wrap it up in foil if using the oven). 

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