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Saturday, April 24, 2021

Recipe Round Up: Sahlab, H'alawa, and Rice Krispie Treats

Sahlab

This is essentially a drinkable pudding. If you make this with less milk, it is a pudding that sets up and can be eaten as dessert. If you use the larger amount of the rice flour, the drink will be thicker, but I prefer it a little thinner, as it thickens while it sits, or if you refrigerate it. It is similar to the Mexican horchata, and when I did a little research, I became convinced that it most likely came to the Mexicans from the Spanish via the Moors and Arabs. Throughout the Middle East and North Africa, there are similar drinks made from or with grains, and this is one version of it. It is sometimes called Hejazi coffee or Hejazi almond coffee, and since my family is from the Hejaz region of Saudi Arabia, I settled on this version. Traditionally, you start with whole almonds, and boil and peel them. However, my mother used to make me do that task for all of our almond desserts and I promised myself that I would never do that ever again in my life. My children do not know the pain of the raw skin on your fingers from popping out three pounds of almonds from their skins. Anyway, I buy the pre-skinned almonds. It is worth the expense to me. Also, rosewater is not traditional at all, as far as I can tell, but I like what it adds to it. You can try it both ways. Also, for the garnish, I tend to grind them up together in my food processor and make more than I need, then just keep the excess in a bag in the freezer. It comes in handy for many desserts and rice dishes.

1 cup skinned almonds
8 cups whole milk (divided)
1/3 - 1/2 cup rice flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon ground Ceylon cinnamon (plus more to garnish)
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
1 tablespoon rosewater (optional)
finely chopped almonds and pistachios, to garnish

Grind up the almonds in a food processor, or by hand, until they are fine, but not a paste. Set aside.

Heat 7 cups milk with sugar over medium heat. Sprinkle in the Ceylon cinnamon and cardamom, and the rosewater, if you are using it. Whisk to combine.

Whisk the rice flour into the remaining cup of milk. Stir into the pot of hot milk, sugar, and spices. Sprinkle the ground almonds into the mixture, whisking, until it is warm and thickened.

Pour into small glasses and garnish with a small sprinkle of Ceylon cinnamon, about 1/8 teaspoon per glass, and about 1/2 teaspoon of the chopped almonds and pistachios per glass. Drink warm.

H'alawa

This treat is so simple, that I really should not be buying it each year. I found a couple recipes online, but they included things like dry milk, which is not in the kind we eat, and seemed a little less sweet than we like, so this is how I modified it for us.

1 cup tahina
1 1/2 - 2 cups confectioners' sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup pistachios roughly chopped
safflower oil for brushing

In a deep bowl combine tahina, sugar and vanilla extract until well mixed. The h'alawa mixture should be more like lightly wet sand, not too crumbly and not too doughy. If your h'alawa is too crumbly, add little bit more tahina. To check, take some of the mixture and squeeze it in the palm of one hand, if it crumbled and did not hold its shape for 2 seconds then it needs more tahina

Add 1/4 cup of pistachios and fold them in the mixture.

Brush a container lightly with vegetable oil and line with parchment paper, divide the remaining pistachios in half. Sprinkle half of the remaining pistachios on the bottom of the container and add the h'alawa mixture and press down until firmly packed into your container. Sprinkle the remaining chopped pistachios on top and press into the h'alawa.

Cover and refrigerate at least overnight up to 24 hours.

Rice Krispie Treats

I know this seems like an odd recipe to share. These are so easy to make, right? Except people leave out vanilla and use margarine. Please don't. These are so delicious, and you will love them. This is one of the few times I use salted butter, but it really makes a difference. Also, I hear these can be stored in an airtight container for up to three days, but we never have them around that long. I also understand you can wrap them tightly and freeze them, but again, we never have any left.

1 stick (1/2 cup) salted butter
16 ounces mini-marshmallows
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
7 cups rice krispie cereal

Grease a 9" X 13" pan and set aside. Measure rice cereal in a bowl, and set aside.

In a large stock pot, melt butter over medium-low heat. When it has melted, add the marshallows and stir gently to melt. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla extract.

Immediately, add in the rice cereal, gently folding with a greased spatula. When it is completely mixed, gently press into the prepared pan, either with wet hands or a buttered spatula. Allow to rest for about an hour or two, then cut into 24 pieces to serve.

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