St. Sarkis Halva Recipe

St. Sarkis Halva Recipe
Staff Writer
St. Sarkis Halva
Armand Sahakian

St. Sarkis Halva

Armenians have many folk traditions and legends, but the legend that stands out around Valentine’s Day stems from the historical facts surrounding St. Sarkis.

About 1,700 years ago, Sarkis was a prince, a brave Persian army general, and a great preacher of Christianity. He converted his Persian soldiers to Christianity, which infuriated the Persian king, so the king had Sarkis and his son killed. Sarkis’ and his son’s remains were brought to Armenia where they were buried. Sarkis gained sainthood status and eventually a church was erected on the site of their graves.

St. Sarkis was known as the guardian from storms and the patron for love and youth. The celebration of St. Sarkis Day, a holiday unique to the Armenian Church, carries the same function as St. Valentine’s Day. After the church service, young boys and girls exchange gifts and sweets.

On the eve of St. Sarkis Day, young girls and boys eat salty cookies right before going to bed in an attempt to find out the identity of their future soulmate. They are not allowed to drink any water, which, naturally, makes them thirsty. The person who offers them a glass of water in their dreams will become their future husband or wife.

A special sweet treat that is reserved for St. Sarkis Day is St. Sarkis Halva. This recipe was sent to me by Armand Sahakian, owner of Nory Locum in California. It’s his mother’s recipe which she kindly shared with The Armenian Kitchen.

50
Servings
187
Calories Per Serving
Deliver Ingredients

Notes

Note: Adding a hint of freshly grated ginger will elevate the halva to another level.

*Note: This can be purchased in Middle Eastern grocery stores or online.

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds sesame seeds, refrigerated
  • 3 cups white granulated sugar
  • 4 tablespoons water
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon orange blossom water*
  • One 7-ounce jar marshmallow crème
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts or pistachios, or to taste

Directions

Form a mound with 2/3 of the sesame seeds on a rimmed baking sheet. Place the sugar, water, lemon juice, and orange blossom water in a pot and bring to a boil over high heat. Continue to boil until the mixture turns a golden color. Mix in the marshmallow, remove from heat, and carefully pour onto the sesame seeds.

Spread the mixture out evenly using your hands or a spatula, adding more of the cool sesame seeds as needed to keep the mixture from adhering to your hands or spatula. Carefully invert the complete sheet of sesame-covered mixture onto a large, flat work surface.

Moving quickly to prevent the sheet from getting hard, add the walnuts or pistachios and roll. Cut into 1 ½-inch lengths and refrigerate until set.

Nutritional Facts

Total Fat
13g
19%
Sugar
1g
1%
Saturated Fat
2g
8%
Carbohydrate, by difference
16g
12%
Protein
4g
9%
Vitamin A, RAE
2µg
0%
Vitamin K (phylloquinone)
1µg
1%
Calcium, Ca
181mg
18%
Fiber, total dietary
4g
16%
Folate, total
26µg
7%
Iron, Fe
3mg
17%
Magnesium, Mg
66mg
21%
Niacin
1mg
7%
Phosphorus, P
125mg
18%
Selenium, Se
7µg
13%
Sodium, Na
25mg
2%
Water
2g
0%
Zinc, Zn
1mg
13%

St. Sarkis Halva Shopping Tip

Be sure to purchase the correct flour a recipe calls for – flours differ in gluten or protein content, making each suited for specific tasks.

St. Sarkis Halva Cooking Tip

Insert a toothpick into the center of cakes, bar cookies, and quick breads to test for doneness – it should come out clean or only have a few crumbs clinging to it.

St. Sarkis Halva Wine Pairing

Sweet chenin blanc, muscat, or amontillado sherry with nut-based desserts; sauternes or sweet German wines with pound cake, cheesecake, and other mildly sweet desserts; sweet chenin blanc or muscat or Alsatian vendange tardive (late harvest) wines with sweeter desserts; sweet chenin blanc or muscat or Alsatian vendange tardive (late harvest) wines, port, madeira, late-harvest zinfandel, or cabernet sauvignon or cabernet franc with chocolate desserts.