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Tuesday, March 20, 2012

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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Would you like to comment?

  1. Great snacks, and so easy-to-make

    Thank for sharing!

  2. Que ricura y fácil saludos

  3. Oh I love those. I've never made them myself though. I can't wait to try them.

  4.  We have a similar snack in India. Looks delicious. Makes me nostalgic.

  5. Wow, I love the combination of sesame seeds and pistachio.  I have such a hard time finding pistachios that are not already salted but I  think I'll have to redouble my efforts!

  6. Heather, These look delicious and such a nice healthy snack! Perfect!

  7. I'll admit it.  I could only find ones that were already salted, as well.  But I thought that the hint of salt would be nice against the sweetness of the honey and the sugar - and it REALLY was.  I'd probably add a pinch of salt if I was making it with unsalted pistachios. I'd say go for it! =)

  8. Given just how addictive I find the sesame honey sticks at Trader Joe's...these are a must make!

  9. I've been really curious about these.  In fact, I eyeball them every time I look through the book.  Never had anything like these before....but I want to!  They look really pretty.  Glad they brought back some great memories for you.

  10. Jessie Wai Leng NgMarch 21, 2012 at 1:15 AM

    Yes, I like this snack. I used to make the similar type from either the fruit stores or Asian grocery shop. May give a try in the future!

  11. ohh., love it., i want to make it., :)

  12. I almost made these but thanks to you and Joy the Baker, there has been far too many sweets at my house the last few weeks. ;-) They look like such a fun little treat and I love the pictures. 

  13. How simple and  beautiful at the same time. I can actually smell the toasted sesame seeds...

  14. Mmm, yummy. I'll try, pistachio is always very good at desserts.

  15. I love sesame seeds. I remember eating sesame candy when I was a kid, I think it was from the Japanese grocery? These look so good! I love the foods that evoke the good memories.

  16. I know Dorothy...I do, too =)  And yes, it seems that so many cultures have their own (basically similar) version of this treat!

  17. I remember these grandma loved them!!  great addition with the pistachio, yum! 

  18. I wanted to stop by and let you know that I featured this on my "What I Bookmarked This Week" post today stop by and see - and grab a button if you'd like.

  19. Natashya Kitchen PuppiesMarch 24, 2012 at 12:26 PM

    I had forgotten about the sesame snaps and now you have made these! They look wonderful. I have great memories of my old step-father buying me sesame snaps when we were out. Also this black licorice that was rolled up into a tight spiral. I wonder if that still exists...?

  20. Thanks so much!  I apologize that I don't know where to go (your name isn't linked to a blog address or anything!?).  Hope you can drop back by and leave a link! =)

  21. YUM!! I was snacking on some small sesame cookies today from New York, and now I see this.  Delicious.  Can't wait to make these.

  22. What lovely memories! Your sesame and pistachio pastelli look and sound so delicious. I like that they only have four ingredients too! I have always loved pistachios in particular - my Dad used to buy a bag of them in their shells for a treat and we would share them, just the two of us. 

  23. Heather, your post brought back some very fond memories of sticky, crunchy and sweet sesame candies of my own!  I have a special place in my heart for sesame cand, and can't wait to try your recipe and introduce it to my girls!

  24. Love it! I'm always intrigued by sesame seed snacks :)