“This version of almond and sesame seed brittle is an ancient recipe that dates back generations from the home cooks of medieval Spain,” cookbook author Stella Hanan Cohen explains. While traditionally served on Purim and Hanukkah, “most households like to keep a stash of ’boulukunio’ in an airtight tin on standby.” Pair them with menenas or shortbread cookies filled with dates and walnuts, and an orange sponge cake called pan d’Espanya. In Stella’s community, the sweets are served as part of “mesas d’alegria,” or tables of happiness that are prepared for holidays and celebrations like weddings.
Learn more about Stella’s community on the Jewish Food Society archive and in her cookbook “Stella’s Sephardic Table: Jewish Family Recipes from the Mediterranean Island of Rhodes.”
- 4 cups hulled sesame seeds
- 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
- 1 cup blanched split almonds, toasted
- For the syrup:
- ½ cups clear honey
- ½ cups water
- 1½ cups sugar
- Place 1 cup of sesame seeds into a heavy-based pan over a medium heat and sprinkle with a pinch of flour. Toast the sesame seeds for 4 minutes or until lightly golden, stirring and shaking the pan often. Transfer to a bowl. Repeat this process, 1 cup at a time, with the remaining 3 cups of sesame seeds.
- Heat the honey, water and sugar in a large, heavy-based pan over a medium heat. Bring to a boil, stirring until the syrup thickens and reaches about 245°F on a candy thermometer, about 20 to 30 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and pour the mixture into a very large heatproof bowl.
- Add the sesame seeds and almonds into the syrup and stir together vigorously with a wooden spoon. Spread the hot sesame seed, almond, and syrup mixture onto an oiled worktop. Dampen your hands in cold water and roll the brittle into 1 inch balls. Set aside and allow to cool at room temperature until the brittle firms up. For an alternative brittle shape, roll the mixture into 4 ropes, each about 1 inch thick. Cut diagonally into 1 inch sections using a sharp knife dipped into hot water. Allow to cool at room temperature until the brittle firms up.
Make Ahead: Layer the brittle between layers of baking paper in an airtight container for up to 1 month.