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Pasteli

September 23, 2009

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Makes about 30 pieces

It’s a Greek tradition to give small wrapped pieces of pasteli at baptisms. Made with equal amounts (by weight) of honey and sesame seeds, some versions also include pistachios, walnuts, or almonds.

1 1/3 cups honey
3/4 cup water
3 cups sesame seeds
1/2 cup shelled unsalted pistachio nuts, finely chopped
2 strips orange rind, finely diced
1. Have on hand a marble slab or a rimmed baking sheet moistened with water.

2. In a heavy saucepan, combine the honey and water. Bring to a boil and let the mixture bubble steadily until it reaches the firm ball stage or 245 to 250 degrees on a candy thermometer. The mixture is too hot to touch with your fingers.

3. Remove from the heat and stir in the sesame seeds, pistachio nuts, and orange rind.

4. On the marble slab or baking sheet, spread the mixture evenly with an offset metal spatula to 1/2-inch thickness. Before it cools completely, use a large chef’s knife to cut into 2-inch squares.

5. When it is cool, wrap the squares in waxed paper and store in a covered container. Adapted from “A Taste of the Aegean: Greek Cooking and Culture’’