During the Great Lent in Greece, the people who fast, are not supposed to eat meat, dairy and fish with some exceptions like the Annunciation and Palm Sunday that they eat fish. During the Great week some people don't even consume olive oil.
So, because of these rules, people have adjusted their diets and there are a lot of different dishes and desserts that make them not to miss anything. One of those desserts is semolina halva that, well, of course people consume during the year too,because it is one of our traditional desserts.
It is a sweet made in a saucepan and then turned over in forms, like cakes. Simple to make if you pay attention to it the whole time.The most common recipe for it, is called 1-2-3-4. That means 1 cup oil, 2 cups semolina, 3 cups sugar and 4 cups water. It usually contains cinnamon, cloves, pine nuts and blanched almonds and sometimes raisins too. Everybody makes their favourite version, adding or removing ingredients.
This halva recipe is different from the classic recipe. The sugar is reduced and it contains chocolate and cinnamon instead of the traditional nuts and raisins. I was looking for a recipe with less sugar and found this recipe on this blog where you can find a lot of delicious mostly Greek recipes. I changed some things and well, I think it has a great balance of flavours. So , go ahead and give it a try.
Semolina halva with chocolate
adapted from here
For the syrup:
2 cups water
1 tablespoon cocoa
¾ cups sugar
1 cinnamon stick or 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
peel of one orange or lemon (not the white part)
For the halva:
½ cup vegetable oil or olive oil
1 cup semolina
100 g dark chocolate
pinch of salt
For the topping (optional):
50 g chocolate
coconut for sprinkling
Line a muffin tin with silicon forms or you can use other silicon forms or metal forms. You will need about 8. Place the ingredients for the syrup in a small or medium saucepan in medium heat. When it comes to boil reduce the heat and let it simmer for 5 minutes. After the 5 minutes remove from heat and discard the peels and the cinnamon stick.
In another medium saucepan or large, place the oil in medium heat. When it gets warm, add the semolina and salt and stir continuously with a wooden spoon. Don't stop stirring because it can get burnt very easily. While you're stirring you will see that the semolina starts producing some foams. Then it starts changing colour. If you think it changes colour too fast reduce the heat. It has to be all the same colour, a sandy colour is fine. You can also understand it when it is done from the nice semolina smell.
Then reduce the heat and add all the syrup and continue stirring. In the beginning it will look like a soup, but it will fast turn to halvas. You should continue stirring and test your halva, when it doesn't fall from the wooden spoon and it gets unstuck from the sides of the saucepan, it is ready. Watch out while you are stirring it because you can get burnt. Now you can add the chocolate in small pieces or melt it before and stir until it dissolves.
When it is ready let it cool for a few minutes and then, you can turn it to your forms, leave it there for about 10 minutes and then you can place them in a plate.
If you want to put the topping you can melt the 50 g of chocolate and place it on the tops of your halvas and sprinkle with coconut.
It is better eaten in room temperature but if you are going to keep it more than a couple of days place it in a fridge in an airtight container.