[Sca-cooks] Halvah marzipan or nougat?

Phil Troy / G. Tacitus Adamantius adamantius1 at verizon.net
Sun Oct 21 10:49:31 PDT 2007

On Oct 21, 2007, at 1:23 PM, Suey wrote:

> I have a conflict here. My Spanish sources say halvah is a
> Hispano-Jewish type of nougat consisting of an almond-sugar paste with
> **flavored with other ingredients such as rosewater, honey, julep,
> clove, camphor or sesame. There are several variations using cashews,
> pistachios and other nuts. David M. Gitlitz & Linda Kay Davidson in  A
> Drizzle of Honey, The Lives and Recipes of Spain's Secret Jews clearly
> indicate that they think it marzipan not nougat. What was halvah  
> before
> the 15th Century marzipan or turron? What distinguishes the difference
> between the two - baking? Yes, I know the Spanish versions clearly  
> have
> a different taste but Gitlitz gives a Mexican recipe which sounds like
> turron to me. Why am I getting bottled up on this?
> Suey

Halvah, hulwa, etc., are presumably Persian or Arabic in origin, and  
generally have in common a cooked sugar-syrup base (or sometimes a  
fruit syrup, such as date or pomegranite). They may or may not  
contain beaten egg white, which is probably where the confusion with  
nougat or torrone come in, and chopped nuts or other starchy staple,  
such as sesame seed, simple flour or semolina. Some contain milk or  
eggs. Today it's found all over the Islamic world, which is  
presumably how Spain got it.

There are quite a few Islamic hulwah recipes in sources such as Kitab  
al Tabikh, which I seem to recall is somewhat older than the 15th  
century -- the recipes are sort of formulaic and modular, as I  
recall, with instructions on how to make sugar syrup, then a basic  
candy from that, with egg whites, then going on to add things like nuts.


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