HOW TO MAKE ANCIENT GREEK SESAME BARS (Pasteli)

These delicious sesame bars have been a part of the Greek culinary tradition since ancient times! You only need 2 ingredients to make this nutritious, ancient Greek superfood known today as Pasteli!

ancient greek sesame bars with honey

Pasteli is a classic, Greek snack! Not only is it delicious, but it’s healthy, too!  It’s an incredible treat dating back to ancient Greece!

Sweets in ancient Greece

In ancient Greece, honey was believed to have come from the gods. It comes as no surprise that the ancient Greeks used honey for so many things since granulated sugar did not exist in ancient Greece; it arrived many centuries later. One popular honey and sesame seed delicacy was called Sisami (pronounced see-SA-mee), which is basically what modern-day Greeks refer to as Pasteli.

What is Pasteli?

Pasteli (pronounced pa-STE-lee) is a bar made with sesame seeds and honey. Various ancient Greek texts mention it, including Homer’s Iliad, where it was popular among the warriors. The father of history, Herodotus, also referred to it as “sweet cakes of sesame and honey”.

Variations of Pasteli today

Today, there are variations of Pasteli in the Middle East and around the Mediterranean, too.

In Greece, there is Pasteli made with sugar and/or a combination of nuts and spices. Pasteli made with sugar is hard and crunchy, almost like brittle. Pasteli made with just honey is much softer and chewier.  The recipe in this post uses honey instead of sugar.

Why I think you’ll love this homemade pasteli:

  • There are only 2 main ingredients, with a few optional add-ins.
  • It’s quick.
  • It’s pretty straightforward.
  • It’s very healthy.
  • It tastes great!

The health benefits of Pasteli

Sesame is known to be a great source of fiber, plant protein, and B vitamins. Pasteli is also rich in antioxidants, which are beneficial for overall health.

What you’ll need to make Pasteli

All you need is honey and sesame seeds. I always use good quality Greek honey. I briefly talk about the benefits of Greek honey in this post. Whenever I make desserts with honey, I find that the quality of the honey really makes a huge difference in the overall flavor. So, if you can’t get Greek honey, get the best honey you can or one you like!

How do you make Pasteli?

Different parts of Greece use different methods. Some areas make Pasteli in large metal pots and then the mixture is poured over a large marble slab or wooden board. Then it’s evened out and beaten with a wooden pin to the desired thickness.

Of course, these traditional methods aren’t really ideal for an ordinary kitchen! I have found a much easier way to make it at home.

First of all, I use a nonstick frying pan. It makes cleanup A LOT easier. I also like putting the pasteli in a square pan lined with parchment paper. That way, I can just lift it out and then cut it when it’s ready.

Here’s what I do:

pasteli steps

If you don’t mind uneven slices, don’t use a pan at all! You can just spoon it onto a large sheet of parchment paper, but don’t touch it with your bare hands because it’s very hot!

Why use a pan?

A pan lets me make Pasteli as thick as I want. For example, a small pan will make thicker bars, whereas a larger pan will make thin ones. For this recipe, I used a 9 ½ inch (24.5 cm) pan and the bars came out to about ½ an inch (1 cm) thick. So, if you’re going to use a pan, pick one depending on how thick or thin you want your bars to be.

pasteli ancient greek sesame bars with honey

Add-ins

Here are a few ideas for add-ins to add more flavor:

  • orange or lemon zest
  • almonds, peanuts, or pistachio nuts
  • ground nutmeg
  • wine
  • black pepper – Ancient Greeks used to put a lot of black pepper in a sweet called gastris! Some parts of Greece today still add black pepper to Pasteli! You might want to give it a try!

 TIPS FOR SUCCESS

  • I toast the sesame seeds in a nonstick pan, but you could toast them in the oven (350°F / 180°C) for about 15 minutes.
  • Don’t overcook the Pasteli, otherwise it may become hard.
  • When you spoon the mixture into the pan, don’t touch it! It’s very hot!
  • Cut into bars or squares after about 15-20 minutes. If you wait longer than that, it will be too hard to cut.
  • Store it in an air-tight container at room temperature with sheets of parchment paper between each bar to prevent them from sticking together.

Let me know how this Pasteli turned out for you in the comments below!

I’d love to hear from you!

~Voula

pasteli ancient greek sesame bars with honey
Print Recipe
5 from 1 vote

HOW TO MAKE ANCIENT GREEK SESAME BARS (Pasteli)

These delicious sesame bars have been a part of the Greek culinary tradition since ancient times! You only need 2 ingredients to make this nutritious, ancient Greek superfood known today as Pasteli!
Prep Time5 mins
Cook Time6 mins
Total Time30 mins
Course: Dessert, Snack
Cuisine: Greek
Keyword: ancient Greek, healthy, refined sugar free, honey, sesame

Ingredients

  • 200 g (7 oz) sesame seeds
  • 200 g (7 oz) good quality (Greek) honey
  • a pinch of salt
  • 1-2 teaspoons lemon zest
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Instructions

  • Line a pan with parchment paper. Set aside.
  • Lightly toast the sesame seeds in a nonstick pan, until light golden brown. Put the toasted seeds in a bowl. Set aside.
  • In the same nonstick pan, heat the honey on medium heat until it bubbles and foams.
  • Add the seeds and all the remaining ingredients and stir continuously until the mixture thickens and isn't runny (about 5-6 minutes).
  • Pour the mixture into the prepared pan and even it out with the back of a spoon. DON'T TOUCH THE MIXTURE WITH YOUR BARE HANDS - IT'S VERY HOT!
  • Put a piece of parchment paper on top and press down to flatten and even out the surface.
  • After about 15-20 minutes, it should easily bend and hold its shape. Lift it out of the pan and cut into bars or squares.
  • Store in an airtight container at room temperature with pieces of parchment paper between each bar/square.
  • Enjoy!

Notes

  • Instead of toasting the sesame seeds in a nonstick pan,  you could toast them in the oven (350°F / 180°C) for about 15 minutes.
  • Don't overcook the mixture, otherwise it may become hard.
  • Cut the Pasteli into bars or squares after about 10-20 minutes. If you wait longer than that, it will be too hard to cut.
  • Pasteli is best on the day it’s made. It becomes a little bit harder the next day, but it still retains its chewiness.
© Pastry Wishes

 

Please follow and like us:

Easy Vegan Fudge Brownies

Who can possibly resist gooey, fudgy brownies topped with creamy chocolate frosting? These mouthwatering vegan fudge brownies are rich, dense and seriously addictive!

easy vegan fudge brownies

If you’re a brownie fan, you’ll love these vegan fudge brownies – they never disappoint!

This recipe is SO easy. You won’t find any unusual or hard-to-find ingredients, either.

These vegan fudge brownies are:

incredibly simple to make.

egg free.

dairy free.

tried, tested & trusted.

absolutely delicious!

easyveganfudgebrownies

What you’ll need:

All-purpose flour

Salt

Unsweetened cocoa powder (preferably Dutch-processed) – Read about the differences here.

Baking powder

White, brown & powdered sugar

Vegetable oil

Bittersweet/Semisweet or Couverture chocolate

Walnuts

Vegan butter/Margarine

Almond/Coconut milk

How to melt chocolate without scorching it

  1. Chop the chocolate into small pieces.
  2. Place the chocolate in a heat-proof bowl.
  3. Place the bowl over a saucepan of simmering water. Make sure the bottom of the bowl doesn’t touch the water so it doesn’t scorch the chocolate.
  4. Stir the chocolate until it melts.

 TIPS FOR MAKING THESE EASY VEGAN FUDGE BROWNIES

This recipe is practically foolproof! However, there are a few things you should consider to ensure the brownies come out great!

  • Get the best quality chocolate and unsweetened cocoa powder you can find; it makes such a difference. I personally love couverture chocolate because it’s a high-quality baking chocolate.
  • Make sure you melt the chocolate properly.
  • Measure the ingredients well, especially the flour. I use a digital scale to get consistent results each and every time.
  • If you don’t want any chocolate chunks in your brownies, you can just melt all of the chocolate in the recipe and put it into the batter.
  • Don’t overmix the batter.
  • Use the right brownie pan size. For these brownies, I used a 9 X 9 inch (23.5 X 23.5 cm) pan. If you have an 8 X 8 inch pan, the brownies will be a bit thicker, if you use a larger pan, they’ll be thinner. This will also affect the baking time.
  • When you line your pan with parchment paper, make sure you leave about 2 – 2 ½ inches (5-6 cm) hanging over so you can just lift the whole pan of brownies out at once without breaking it.
  • All ovens vary, so start checking the brownies after about 20 minutes. The longer you bake them, the drier they become.
  • Allow the brownies to cool COMPLETELY in the pan before cutting & frosting, otherwise they will fall apart.

easyveganfudgebrownies

I really hope you enjoy these Easy Vegan Fudge Brownies!

~Voula

WANT MORE DELICIOUS CHOCOLATE RECIPES? You’ll love these:

Let me know how these vegan fudge brownies turned out for you in the comments below! I’d love to hear from you!

EASY VEGAN FUDGE BROWNIES

Who can possibly resist gooey, fudgy brownies topped with creamy chocolate frosting? These mouthwatering vegan fudge brownies are rich, dense and seriously addictive!
Prep Time15 mins
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Keyword: EASY, VEGAN, FUDGE, BROWNIES,
Servings: 9

Equipment

  • You'll need a 9 X 9 or 8 X 8 inch square pan ( 23.5 X 23.5 / 20 X 20 cm).

Ingredients

For the brownies

  • 1 cup (127 g / 5 oz) all purpose flour
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup (45 g / 1.6 oz ) unsweetened cocoa powder (preferably Dutch-processed)
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ cup + 2 tablespoons (75 g / 2.6 oz) granulated sugar
  • ¼ cup + 2 tablespoons (75 g / 2.6 oz) brown sugar
  • ½ cup vegetable oil
  • ½ cup hot water
  • 125 g (4.4 oz) bittersweet/semisweet or couverture chocolate, chopped into small chunks
  • 100 g (3.5 oz) walnuts, roughly chopped

For the frosting

  • ½ cup (113 g / 4 oz) vegan butter/margarine, at room temperature
  • 1 cup (90 g / 3 oz) unsweetened cocoa powder (natural or Dutch-processed)
  • 2 cups (240 g / 8.5 oz) powdered sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • 3-6 tablespoons almond/coconut milk

Instructions

Prep the oven and the pan

  • Preheat the oven to 350°F / 180 °C.
  • Line the baking pan with parchment paper. Make sure to leave about 2 – 2 ½ inches (5-6 cm) hanging over so you can just lift the whole pan of brownies out at once without breaking it. Set aside.

Melt the Chocolate

  • Place half of chocolate chunks in a heat-proof bowl & set aside the other half. Place the heat-proof bowl over a saucepan of simmering water. Make sure the bottom of the bowl doesn’t touch the water so it doesn’t scorch the chocolate. Stir the chocolate until it melts. Alternatively, you can melt all of the chocolate chunks, instead of half (* see NOTE below).

Make the Batter

  • In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, granulated & brown sugar, baking powder, cocoa powder and salt.
  • Pour in the melted chocolate, vegetable oil, and hot water and whisk until well combined.
  • Fold in the chocolate chunks and walnuts.
  • Evenly spread the mixture in the baking pan.
  • Bake for 20-30 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean**.
  • Let it cool COMPLETELY IN THE PAN. Then use the overhanging parchment paper to lift the brownies out of the pan. Cut into squares & frost if desired.

Make the frosting

  • Using a mixer, beat the vegan butter/margarine until creamy.
  • Gradually add the powdered sugar, cocoa powder, salt and 2 tablespoons of the almond/coconut milk. If you want a thicker consistency, add more powdered sugar. If you want a creamier consistency, add more almond/coconut milk. Spread over the cooled brownies.
  • Enjoy!

Notes

  • * If you don't want to bite into chocolate chunks, you can melt all of the chocolate and put it into the batter.
  • ** All ovens vary, so start checking the brownies after about 15 minutes. The longer you bake them, the drier they become. 
  • Allow the brownies to cool COMPLETELY IN THE PAN before lifting them out of the pan and cutting them, so that they don't crumble apart.
These brownies will keep for about 3 days at room temperature in an airtight container unfrosted, or in the refrigerator for about a week. 
© Pastry Wishes

Please follow and like us: