Goddess of Cake


Rosie Halva
June 21, 2009, 16:28
Filed under: Sweets | Tags: , , , , ,

First, in order to avoid confusion, there are two types of halva: Indian halva, which is kind of a pudding made of semolina, and Arabian halva, which is a sweet made of sesame seeds. Indian halva is one of my all time favourites, when I’m cooking in a hurry for big crowds. It can quite easily be made for like a hundred people in a 10 liter pan. Besides, hippies love it! The idea of halva was presented to me by an ex – Krishna devotee when I was working in an ecovillage in Central Finland.

This particular recipe I invented last summer for a hippie – festival catering. For the hippies I shaped balls of the halva, since it was easy to serve like that, and hippies generally love to eat anything that is in a form of a ball (why that is so I cannot tell). Though, it can also be made a so that the consistency is a bit runnier and then served with a spoon. Rosewater can be obtained in Asian stores and at the chemist’s, but I have sometimes used a brand of organic rosewater (Julia Lawless Aqua Oleum), which was definetely the best, since it smells most like real roses.

Rose is an edible flower, and a very decorative one too! Though it’s good to remember to take out the white part of the petals, since it is bitter. I usually collect the petals of Japanese rose or rosa rugosa which grows very all over the place in Finland, and blooms from June to August.

rose halva

Halva with Rosewater and Strawberries

4 dl semolina

1,5 dl grated coconut

1 tsp cardamom

1/2 tsp bourbon vanilla powder

3 dl brown sugar

2,5 dl oil (anything that doesn’t have a very distinguished taste, I used canola)

3 dl oat milk

2 tbsp rose water

250 g frozen strawberries

This halva is made in a cooking pan. I started by toasting the semolina on dry pan for about ten minutes, stirring it all the time, in order to avoid burning. When the semolina was very slightly yellow – brownish, I added the coconut, spices and sugar, stirred hastily and then quickly added the oil, milk and strawberries and the rose water. Then I turned down the heat and covered the pan with a lid, and let it simmer on low heat for about 15 minutes. I was using frozen strawberries, so I guess it would go faster, if you used fresh ones. I shaped the halva by pressing it to tiny bowl and then turning it over on a plate, kind of in the same way children make sandcakes. I decorated the halva with rose petals, grated coconut and freeze – dried strawberries. It could also be sprinkled with rose water, to enhance the taste and smell.

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Cheesecake with Rhubarb and Halva

I have made now quite a few cheesecakes with this flavour combination, but previously I made on top of the cake a layer with pureéd rhubarb. This time I wanted to make two layers of mousse, first one with the taste of halva and the second one with the taste of rhubarb, and then put a thin glazing of rhubarb juice on top of the cake.

This cake was made for my friend Suvi’s babyshower.

halvacake

The crust:

75 g vegetable margarine

150 g vegan digestive cookies

The mousse:

2,5 dl oat vanilla sauce

500 g soy yogurt

200 g soy cream cheese, natural

150 g halva, traditional flavour

2 dl pureéd, sweetened rhubarb

2,5 dl water

2 tsp rose water

7 tbsp agar agar flakes

Glazing:

1 dl rhubarb juice

1/2 dl sugar with added pectin

I wanted to make this cake so that I would have two different layers of mousse, one with halva and the other one with rhubarb. I started in the morning by putting the soy yogurt in a colander that was lined with a coffee filter. In the evening, I started with the cake.

First I made the crust by breaking apart the cookies in a plastic bag and then crunching them with a rolling bin until they became crumbs. Then I melted the margarine and mixed the crumbs together with it. Then I lined the bottom of a springform cake pan, about 24 cm in diameter, with baking parchment. I patted the cookie crumb and margarine mixture on the bottom of the pan tightly. Then I put the cake tin in the fridge (or actually outside) to cool and harden for a bit.

Then I whipped up the oat vanilla sauce (it was of the kind that can be whipped). It could of course be substituted with e.g.  whippable soy cream. Then I added the soy yogurt and the soy cream cheese. Then I divided the mixture in two different bowls, and added 150 g of halva to the other, which I then mixed with a hand held mixer, in order to get the halva evenly mixed in. Then I added the pureéd rhubarb to the other mixture. I used a brand of pureéd rhubarb that is on sale in Finland, which includes quite a lot of sugar, so I did not add any to the mousse.

The I put 1, 25 dl of water in a pan and added 3 and 1/2 tbsp agar agar to it. Then I boiled the mixture until the agar agar flakes were diluted, mixing it every now and then. I personally find working with agar agar quite nerve – wrecking, since it the amount you should use varies so much depending on the brand. So I stick to the same brand.

Then I let the agar agar mixture cool just for a minute or two (it sets amazingly quickly!) and poured it, little by little, to the bowl with the halva mousse mixture in it, blending it in carefully. It is important to concentrate at this stage, since otherwise you might get a lumpy mousse. Then I poured the mousse onto the cake crust, and put in the fridge.

After that I made the second mousse mixture, exactly like the previous one, but also adding 2 tsp rose water in the pan when I was diluting the agar agar. This mousse I then poured on top of the other mousse layer on the cake crust. The previous layer had had time to harden enough so that the layers stayed separate. Then I put the cake in the  fridge.

The following morning I made the glazing for the cake. I made it with rhubarb juice and sugar with added pectin, which actually exists for making jam, but can be used for this also.  I simply heated the sugar and the juice and then spooned it on the cake so that it formed a thin layer on top. Then I decorated the cake with fruit and mint leaves.

The cake was otherwise well done, but I was a little bit disappointed with the ready made rhubarb pureè that I was using, since it was too sweet. I would have liked to have a really nice fresh taste of rhubarb in the top layer, but now it tasted merely of sugar. The brand of agar agar I was using is Clearspring Traditional Japanese Agar Agar Flakes. And even if I tried to overestimate, the amount  agar could have been slightly more, because the cake could have been a little bit firmer.