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Sesame and Pistachio Snack (Pastelli)

I find myself drawn to sweets and snacks laden with sesame seeds.  I love the look of those tiny little seeds all jumbled together.  And while I love the thin little crisp-like Sesame Snaps, I absolutely adore these pastelli.  As I was making them, flashes of being a little girl kept crossing my mind.  The toasty sesame-scented oils wafting from the pan.  The warm, enveloping scent of honey.  And nostalgia slapping me square across the face once the two were combined.  Folded together they woke a sleeping childhood memory.

I can't recall circumstances.  I can't recall specific instances.  What I can recall are little crinkly paper-wrapped bites of sesame honey treats.  My mom always had them around when I was very young.  So young that I think it was before my brother and sisters even take up residence in my memories (I'm a good deal older than them).  The soft sticky chew.  The feel of my teeth slicing through those dense, sweet seeds.  The comforting blanket of seeds so tiny and grassy and coated in honey.  This is what they were.  Pastelli by another name.

Those little bites from my childhood didn't have pistachios in them.  But I like the addition.  It adds color without changing the flavor.  These are a sweet treat.  In so many ways.
Sesame and Pistachio Snacks (Pastelli)

by Heather Schmitt-González
Prep Time: 5-10 minutes
Cook Time: 5 minutes
Keywords: snack dessert honey nuts sesame seeds candy Greek

Ingredients (20-30 "bites")
  • ¾ c. + 2 tsp. sesame seeds
  • ⅓ c. shelled pistachios, broken in half
  • ¼ c. sugar
  • ¼ c. honey
Toast sesame seeds and pistachios in a nonstick skillet over low heat until lightly golden and fragrant. Pour onto a plate or bowl and set aside.

Return skillet to heat and add sugar. Cook, without stirring, until it melts and becomes lightly golden. Carefully add honey to the skillet. Using a heatproof rubber scraper/spatula, stir the sesame seeds and pistachios quickly into the sugar/honey mixture. It should be thick and sticky.

Pour/scrape the mixture out onto a flat, heat-proof surface (parchment lined tray, silpat, marble slab) and flatten a bit with the back of the spatula or a spoon. Use your hands dipped in cold water to form a rectangular shape that is about 6" x 7" and ¼" thick.

Let sit for a few minutes to begin to set up, then cut into small, bite-sized squares or rectangles. Don't wait too long, or it will become hard to cut.

These little snacks are reminiscent of the chewy sesame honey sticks that my mom always ate when I was just a girl. They taste and feel just as I remember them - of earthy sesame and rich honey.

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