Monday, June 28, 2010

Pastéli (Greek Sesame Snaps)

I wouldn't immediately think of these "sesame snaps" when Greek food is mentioned. In fact, I associate them with Chinese food!

Remember those items I've named "Peanutty Snacks" in Taiwan?

They were showcased in this post: Dan Shui 淡水, Taiwan (including food)

So, I was a little surprised when I saw these items while perusing Culinaria Greece.

It turns out that sesame is grown in the area around Thessaloniki. According to the book, the classic pastéli originated from that area, and is simply made by baking sesame seeds with honey.

In a surprising eatingclub twist, I actually made a smaller amount than the recipe in the book! ;)

This is really simple and easy. First, I toasted some sesame seeds on the stovetop. I then started heating equal amounts in weight of honey and sugar. When the honey-sugar mixture caramelized into a nice light golden color, I dumped the toasted seeds in there and mixed.

I then turned the mixture over onto a Silpat-lined sheet pan.

See! Such a small amount! We didn't have that many sesame seeds in the house is why.

The recipe called for using a well-oiled rolling pin to spread and smooth out the sesame-honey-caramel mixture into a sheet, but I figured that with such a small amount, I can get away with using a spatula. As you can see, my spreading left something to be desired.

The recipe also called for cutting the "snaps" at this stage, but I decided to do it after the snaps had hardened.

rustic-looking pastéli

Apparently, one can't really cut the snaps well after hardening. So, I simply broke them into pieces. I call it the rustic look. ;)

Perhaps the incredibly small amount of these pastéli had something to do with it, but they were extremely popular and were gone in a jiffy!

Well, I already knew they would be popular, as my mother loves sesame snaps. In fact, since we ran out so quickly, she bought some "sesame crèpes" from the store the very next day. ("Sesame crèpes" are similar, but are slightly chewy and yielding instead of crispy).

However, she was very disappointed to find that the package she bought already had that "stale nut" aroma and flavor. So, she has put in her request for more homemade snaps.

According to Culinaria Greece, other versions of pastéli now abound, made with other nuts such as almonds, peanuts, walnuts and hazelnuts, and in various combinations of nuts and sesame seeds. I'll definitely do a mixture for my next batch!

There you go, yet another entry to this month's Regional Recipes! (More details about this blog event below.)

eatingclub vancouver Greek
"Greek" Calamari
Simple Greek Meal
Caper Salad
Greek Meatball Soup (Giouvarlakia)
Marinated Feta
Greek Shrimp with Feta
Greek Ribs with Tzatziki
Mushroom Ragu Pastitsio
Spanakorizo (Greek Spinach Rice)
Zucchini Ribbons Salad with Anchovy Dressing
Souvlaki (Pork and Chicken)
Tomato Bread Salad, Greek-style
Grilled Fish Fillet on Oregano
Pastéli (Greek Sesame Snaps)

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Pastéli (Greek Sesame Snaps)
from Culinaria Greece: Greek Specialties

4 cups/500g sesame seeds
8 level tablespoons/250g honey
1 generous cup/250g sugar

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Spread the sesame seeds out on a baking sheet and roast in the oven until golden brown.

Heat the honey and sugar in a saucepan over a medium heat until the mixture caramelizes. Using a sugar thermometer, make sure the temperature of the mixture does not exceed 470 F (250 C). Remove the saucepan from the heat and stir in the toasted sesame seeds.

Grease a marble slab (or any other cool, smooth surface) with sunflower oil and tip the mixture onto it. Roll out thinly using a greased rolling pin. Cut small bars from the mixture and place on a wire tray to cool.

Wrap the bars individually in plastic wrap. They will keep for a long time in a tightly closed container.

eatingclub vancouver Regional Recipes posts
Greek Meatball Soup (Giouvarlakia)
Simmered Saba Mackerel with Daikon Radish (Saba Oroshi-ni)
Thai Fried Chicken
Roast Pork Belly with Puy Lentils
Beef "Ribbon" Kebab (Pasanda Kabab) with Cilantro Chutney
Canadian Onion Soup with Oka Cheese
Börek with Beef Filling
Korean Pork Bulgogi (with Muu Namul, Kong Namul)
Lobster Congee from a Lobster Feast
Pork Jowl (Pork Cheeks) with Brown Sugar Rub
Beef Salpicao
Cuban Arroz con Salchichas (Yellow Rice with Vienna Sausages)
Cuban Pastelitos de Guayaba y Queso (Guava and Cheese Pastries)
Vietnamese Spring Roll (Cha Gio)
Grilled Fish Fillet on Oregano
Pastéli (Greek Sesame Snaps)

Blazing Hot WokWe're submitting this to Regional Recipes, a blogging event created by Darlene of Blazing Hot Wok that celebrates food from all over the world.

The torch has since been passed to Joanne of Eats Well with Others.

The region for this edition is Greece.

The round-up will be hosted at Regional Recipes and will be posted after July 1. Regional Recipes information


  1. You're right -- I don't usually associate sesame seeds with Greek cooking, but I'm quite happy to start! These look delicious. And hey -- rustic is awesome.

  2. I can't believe I was lucky enough to get TWO entries from you guys! And such fantastic ones. I've always associated these with Chinese food as well...but I guess not! They look delicious.

  3. mmmm...what a simple and healthy snack for my children.

  4. I love these kinds of sesame treats!

  5. yumm! perfect to watch soccer with! :D

  6. I tried this Greek sweet once at an outdoor market and it was fantastic!

  7. oh, these would be so fun to try

  8. That looks so good! I seriously need to get a candy thermometer!

  9. I love how you tied them up! So cute.

  10. These look so delicious - I love that they're doable at home. The store bought ones are always so promising but I knew they could be improved on!

  11. Uh oh, I just realized that I still haven't made more of these for our mother! Bad, bad.

    Thanks for the comments!

  12. maybe add some hemp seeds for protien and that would make a good quick energy bar :D

    1. Oh, that's a great idea! Saw hemp hearts at Costco and tasted them: nice and nutty. They would be a great addition!

  13. 470 degrees, I am not sure that is right, at 350 my sugar/honey was nearly burnt and much darker than yours pictured. Any help on this. I make candy all the time candy thermometer is right.

    1. Hi there! The recipe we got from the book states that it shouldn't exceed 470. So I take that to mean that one can remove them before they reach that stage.

  14. I made some the other day from another article and I used toasted sesame seeds (I cooked) and just sugar and a little water. They came out perfect. I also used grease proof paper sandwiched with the mixture rolled out with rolling pin and cut into squares while still warm


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