Ok, Christmas is over and the new year celebrations are about to start but … you still have time to make something yummy.
I love sesame seeds so you can imagine my excitement when I saw this recipe in Whispers from a Lebanese Kitchen by Nouha Taouk. I couldn’t wait to try it. I bought the sesame seeds from Kakulas Sister, in Nollamara. They sell most of their produce unpackaged and at a very reasonable price. Don’t buy small packets from the supermarket – they will cost you a fortune. I have made this recipe twice. The saga of my first attempt is set out below. This is how it should be done.
- 1kg of roasted (unsalted) peanuts
- 500g sesame seeds
- 500g honey
- 2 tbs icing sugar, sifted
- Line the base of a 35cm x 25cm x 2.5cm baking tray with baking paper and then lightly grease it with butter.
- Toast the sesame seeds in a frying pan until lightly brown. Stir constantly to ensure they don’t burn.
- Put the peanuts and the toasted sesame seeds in a large, heat-proof bowl (stainless steel is perfect).
- Put the honey and icing sugar in a saucepan over low heat. Stir until the sugar has melted and combined.
- Increase the temperature and boil until it reaches soft ball stage. Put a bowl of icy water next to the stove/cooktop and add little bits of the toffee to the water until it forms a solid gummy ball that can be manipulated between your fingers.
- Pour the toffee mixture over the sesame seeds and peanuts.
- Working quickly, mix together.
- Press mixture into the prepared tray. I found that it did not stick to a silicon scraper, so that is what I used. Press down to make it as firm as possible.
- With a sharp knife or pizza cutter, cut into squares. Press down again to neaten it.
- When cool, re-cut along the cut lines and remove from tray.
Now for the sad story…
The recipe actually calls for 1kg of raw peanuts without skins. I tried three supermarkets for raw peanuts but to no avail. They had plenty of roasted unsalted peanuts. I lamented the lack of raw, wholesome foods in supermarkets these days.
So I went to our local health food shop. Yeah! They had raw peanuts but, alas, they had their skins firmly attached. Not to be deterred, I spent the night blanching and skinning the peanuts. I took the photo above just to prove I did it.
Ok, now I was ready to make my Sesame and Peanut Slice. I got all the ingredients together and looked at the first step: ROAST THE PEANUTS!!
Damn it!! I could have easily bought roasted peanuts from those maligned supermarkets, significantly cheaper than my raw peanuts and much, much less work.
The moral of the story is: read the recipe closely before you go shopping.
The recipe also said to cook the toffee until it reaches the soft ball stage which is 116°C on a candy thermometer. The first time I made the recipe, I took the toffee off the heat as soon as it reached 116°C but it was, clearly, not enough. The slice did not hold together. This time, I really made sure that the toffee was the correct consistency (the temperature was about 128°C) and they were perfect.
These guys taste great and are good for you.