Halva is a confection made from raw tehina and sugar, sometimes stabilized with additives. In Israel, you’ll see halva stalls with huge slabs in every imaginable flavor, from rose water to pistachio to chocolate to coffee.
2 cups sugar
½ vanilla bean, scraped
Zest of 1 lemon
1½ cups tehina
Pinch kosher salt
Line an 8-inch square baking pan with parchment paper. Have ready another sheet of parchment paper.
Combine the sugar, vanilla, and lemon zest with ½ cup water in a saucepan over medium heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Then cook, without stirring, until the mixture registers 245 degrees on a candy thermometer.
While the sugar syrup is cooking, place the tehina and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle. Beat on medium speed.
When the sugar syrup reaches 245 degrees carefully stream it into the tehina with the mixer running. Mix until the syrup is incorporated and the mixture begins to pull away from the sides of the bowl.
Working quickly with a flexible heatproof spatula, transfer the mixture to the prepared pan. Press the top of the halva flat with the sheet of parchment paper and your hands. Let cool completely to room temperature. Cut into squares and store at room temperature, well wrapped in plastic wrap.
Will keep for up to a week.