Today is Palm Sunday, the Sunday before Holy Week. Holy Week is one of the most beautiful times of the year in Greece, not just because the weather is usually gorgeous, but because Easter is the most important religious holiday. It’s actually bigger than Christmas, which has sort of caught up in recent generations but is heavily commercial with many “foreign” traditions having infiltrated its celebration. Did you know that traditionally people in Greece used to decorate miniature wooden sail boats and not trees? Hang on, why am I talking about Christmas? Easily distracted? Me?
Back to Easter and Lent. As I mentioned a few weeks back, there are many recipes flying around, in magazines, on tv shows, on blogs, all with great ideas on how to enjoy good food even if you’re fasting (meaning no meat, dairy, eggs etc.). One such recipe is this little gem. It’s amazingly easy, lusciously chocolatey, and actually quite healthy! The taste leaves behind a hint of halva (the type we call Macedonian, referring to Northern Greece) which is made of tahini and sugar or honey. Now I’m no expert, but dark chocolate, honey, tahini, almonds and even cinnamon, are all said to offer great nutritional benefits. These Chocolate Tahini Bites contain exactly these ingredients and nothing else. Also, they are very rich, so you only need a bite or two!
The recipe is from Sweet Stories, a magazine by Greek pastry chef Stelios Parliaros.
Chocolate Tahini Bites
125g dark chocolate, chopped
1/4 tsp cinnamon
50g almonds without skin (I used slivered because it was all I had, use chopped if you want more crunch)
Icing sugar or cocoa powder for dusting (optional)
- Toast the almonds. Put a non-stick frying pan on high heat, wait till the pan is very hot, then add the almonds. Shake them around or stir with a wooden spoon or spatula. As soon as you start to smell the almonds and you see a few starting to brown, take them off the heat and continue to stir. They will finish toasting on the hot pan. Set aside.
- Melt the chocolate in a heat proof bowl in the microwave (or over a pan of boiling water). I always do this in 15 second bursts on high, taking the bowl out and mixing after each burst. It should be ok after 3 goes. Stir well to smooth out any last lumps.
- Add the tahini, honey and cinnamon and stir well or whisk to combine. Add the almonds and stir again till they are all coated.
- Pour mixture into a lightly greased, shallow baking tray or pyrex dish. Mine was 16x25cm. Leave it to set at room temperature for at least 2 hours, or, when cooled, pop it in the fridge for about one hour. Cut into squares or bars, and dust with icing sugar so they look pretty! The original recipe uses cocoa powder for dusting, but that would be too bitter for me, so I went with the white stuff.