Peanut Butter, Bourbon and Maple Fudge (Halvah)

Halvah is a dense, sweet, crumbly Middle Eastern dessert traditionally made from a nut butter, such as tahini (sesame paste). Pistachios are normally folded into the halvah, but I prefer using peanut butter, the thinner oily peanut butter works best. I've recreated this as a childhood treat. It's my answer to fudge--but it's not your grandma's fudge.
  • Level: Intermediate
  • Total: 36 hr 20 min
  • Prep: 5 min
  • Inactive: 36 hr
  • Cook: 15 min
  • Yield: 16 to 20 pieces
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12 ounces organic peanut butter, creamy and soft (organic will have oil floating on top; stir this into the peanut butter)

1 teaspoon pure maple extract

2 tablespoons vanilla bean paste

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

6 ounces roasted salted peanuts

5 tablespoons bourbon

1 1/4 cups granulated sugar

Serving suggestions: dates, frozen Greek yogurt, pomegranates 


Special equipment:
Have ready: Small heavy-bottomed saucepan Candy thermometer Oiled heavy wooden spoon Oiled 6-inch round pan
  1. In a small bowl, combine the peanut butter, maple extract, vanilla bean paste, kosher salt, and peanuts. Set aside. 
  2. In the small heavy-bottomed saucepan, heat the bourbon, 2 1/4 tablespoons water, and the sugar over medium heat, stirring until dissolved, about 3 minutes. Once dissolved, increase heat to high. Attach the candy thermometer and boil without stirring until the mixture reaches 255 to 260 degrees F, just below hard-crack stage. 
  3. Remove from heat, immediately pour in the bowl, and assertively mix in syrup with the oiled wooden spoon. Mix until the halvah begins to form threads. This gives the dessert its unique texture. 
  4. Working quickly, press the mixture into the oiled pan. (I like using a smaller pan that has 2-inch sides.) Press firmly, making the mixture dense and compact. 
  5. Wrap two times in plastic and store in the refrigerator for 36 hours. The halvah needs to cure, yielding an awesome dessert. 
  6.  Unmold while cold. Let sit at room temperature, at least 4 hours, before eating. Serve with dates, frozen Greek yogurt, and pomegranates. The halvah is also awesome all by itself! 
  7. The halvah will keep well at room temp, stored in an airtight container.