halva magic bars

Hello from my first week back to blogging life after seven weeks of filming and three months of maternity leave! Season 4 is officially in the bag (and scheduled to premiere on September 8th!), and after a one-day trip to New York earlier this week to make turkey on the Today Show, I am home and ready to figure out this whole test-noodle-kugel-recipes-while-Bernie-is-singing-Baby-Beluga-with-Grandma-in-the-living-room thing. It’s gonna be great! I’m gonna squish her cheeks anytime I want!

The Season 4 shoot was so much fun. It really was like summer camp: we had movie night under the stars, a wiener-fueled bonfire, bourekas in a wheat field, and a dance party with backstreet boys and a disco ball and everything. On the weekends we sat on the beach and invented new uses for the word gourmet. (“Are you wearing a Juicy velour robe? That is so gourmet!” “Did you just get very extravagant nail art? How gourmet!” Basically: fancy but not trendy, and nothing at all to do with food.) On the last day, I got Iced and that was that. I miss the crew so much already.

One of my faaaaavorite recipes from this season were the Halva magic bars that I made for an episode that’s an ode to Midwestern potlucks. Every potluck around here has to have a bar- a brownie, blondie, lemon square, cookie bar, etc. I grew up calling these desserts by their specific names but here they’re all just lumped into one big geometrically pleasing category that is the centerpiece for my go-to sample of a Midwest accent (“Are you going to bring the bars, Marge?” where the “ar” sounds a little pirate-y… aim for the back of your mouth and you’ll see what I mean.)

Magic bars, or 7-layer bars (tomato/tomahto), are one of the top three bars of all time. They are dangerously delicious and they’re magic because you make them by just piling everything into a pan. You don’t have to mix anything in a bowl or soften butter or commit any real effort, they’re so easy and the return is so great that it honestly feels like you’re cheating the world. 

The classic magic bar has butter, graham cracker crumbs, chocolate chips, butterscotch chips, pecans, sweetened condensed milk and shredded coconut, but in a painfully predictable move, I’ve subbed out the butterscotch for crumbled halva and the pecans for pistachios. And of course the condensed milk was just begging for some rosewater (it gets topped with coconut, can you blame me?!). Listen, one day I’ll make something that doesn’t feature the holy combination of coconut + rosewater + pistachio + halvah but, like, today’s not that day. And neither is tomorrow. 

The result is a bar that’s just as chewy and gooey and amazing as the original, but with a little more color: nuttiness and flakiness from the halvah, greenery and saltiness from the pistachios, floral notes from the rosewater, and pretty pops of pink from the optional rose petals on top. It’s a Midwestern/Middle Eastern mashup that was bound to happen at some point because all of these flavors work so darn well together. Proceed with caution because you will want to eat the whole batch immediately. Luckily storing them in the fridge makes them even better because it makes them chewier, so hide them in the back behind the carrots and just eat a carrot every time you go in for a bar. They’ll cancel each other out.

Halva Magic Bars

makes 20


1/2 c (113g) unsalted butter

9 graham cracker rectangles (1 package)

1/4 tsp kosher salt

1 c (175g) chopped dark chocolate or chocolate chips

1 1/2 c (226g) crumbled halva

1 c (120g) roasted pistachios

1 (14 oz) can sweetened condensed milk or sweetened condensed coconut milk

1 tsp rosewater

1 tsp vanilla

1 1/3 c (160g) sweetened shredded coconut

2 tb dried rose petals, optional


Preheat oven to 350ºf. Grease a 9 x 13 pan and line the bottom with parchment. Add the butter and stick it in the oven for a few minutes so the butter melts. Meanwhile, crush the graham crackers by putting them in a large ziploc bag and smashing with a rolling pin or blending in a food processor. When the butter’s melted, swirl it around the bottom of the pan and scatter the graham cracker crumbs evenly all over (you’re not actually making a full on graham cracker crust, don’t worry about packing it down or anything).  Sprinkle with salt, then sprinkle the chocolate chips, halva, and pistachios all over. Pour a little of the condensed milk on top and then add the rosewater and vanilla to the remaining condensed milk and mix it in. Pour it evenly all over the pan. Sprinkle the coconut on top and rose petals, if using. Bake until edges are golden brown, about 20 minutes. Let cool fully (ideally overnight or for a few hours in the fridge) before cutting into bars. Enjoy!

Store in an airtight container in the fridge for a good few days.

tahini puppy chow

hello from hawaii where we are celebrating eggboy’s 30th birthday!! we came here right after a quick couple of days spent in new york for the today show and the launch of my taim falafel and it was so much fun! i got to make tater tot hotdish on air with al roker and harry connick junior, and they and everyone else at the show were so gosh darn sweet! i was so nervous but made sure to eat a good breakfast at ess-a-bagel before and then i managed to squeeze in a mention of our town tater tot factory during the segment. new york actually felt balmy when we got there since it was -20 when we left grand forks. it was perfect walking weather, so i was able to easily avoid the subway and log a zillion steps per day. 

anywho, about a month ago my bb kristin texted me a very important text message:

tahini puppy chow?????

yassssss!!!!!! ever since chanie posted a recipe for it i've been eyeing it up and down.

the last time i’d had puppy chow was probably also the last time i wore limited too and was obsessed with lime green and those little rhinestone accessories that stuck onto your hair by way of velcro. (do you remember those? what were we thinking?) puppy chow was the best soccer game half-time snack, tied with firmly packed rice krispies treats. and it is best eaten by shoveling it into your mouth, creating a powder sugar mustache that, now that i have grown out of my limited too phase, begs for a cocaine joke.

when kristin arrived at our house for our annual chrismukkah slumber party, she brought:


powdered sugar

my favorite m&m knockoffs which i think you can only get in the whole foods bulk section (the colors are the prettiest)

tahini for the puppy chow

more tahini for my personal use because my stash got dangerously low and good tahini does not exist in grand forks

and then we went to town and made what seemed like way too much puppy chow at the time but after a couple days of steady noshing it was gone and we got really sad. it’s ok though because the recipe is right here! we improvised on kristin’s classic peanut butter recipe, essentially just swapping out the peanut butter for tahini, adding a bit of cinnamon to enhance the flavor and finishing it with toasted sesame seeds, those pretty m&m knockoffs, and some chopped halva that i've had in my freezer from when ruth gifted me halva kingdom halva in tel aviv! it is perrrrfect to have around in a cute container for when you need just a little bite of something sweet.

tahini puppy chow

makes about 8 cups


1/4 c butter

1/2 c tahini

a couple pinches of cinnamon

a big pinch of salt

1 1/2 tsp vanilla

1 c chocolate chips

6 c chex cereal

1 1/2 c powdered sugar

2 tb sesame seeds

1 c chopped halva

a few handfuls of m&ms


in a small saucepan over medium low heat, melt butter. stir in the tahini, cinnamon, salt, and vanilla. add the chocolate chips and stir until the chocolate is fully melted. remove from the heat.

in a large plastic bin or bowl with a lid, combine the chex and tahini mixture, stirring gently to keep the chex from breaking. stir in half of the powdered sugar and then add the rest of the powdered sugar and the sesame seeds, snap on the lid and shake, shake, shake! taste and add more powdered sugar as desired.

finally, fold in the chopped halva and m&ms and enjoy! 


chocolate halva spread + a #mollyontherange x stewart & claire chocolate halva lip balm giveaway!

my favorite lip balm in the whole entire universe now comes in chocolate halva flavor.


i have tried every single lip balm in the world, including, obviously, lip smacker's dr. pepper, and a tragic macaroni and cheese flavor from the candy store near columbus circle. at summer camp, no care package was complete without lip balm, and in college, practically every other laundry cycle was graced with a lip balm explosion. i have since gotten better at this.

so i *know* lip balm, i am never without lip balm, i put it on morning/noon/night/16 times in between, and i can say hands down that stewart & claire's is the best. it's not sticky and it works so well, even in grand forks winters, and it's made by kristin! who just wrote the modern potluck cookbook! get one! so now i am just about bursting with glee because as part of the molly on the range book launch, it now comes in halva flavor. it's made with sesame oil and askinosie cocoa powder, and lisel's endpaper drawings are all over the label. it is a dream come true. i'm giving away a handful of these to those who've preordered (only one more week to preorder!), and if you don't win one or are in need of 12 more, there will be a limited supply available for sale on the stewart & claire site.

and! in case all of this talk of chocolate halva has left you with a massive insane craving, here is a super quick recipe for nutella's middle eastern cousin, chocolate halva spread. it's right out of molly on the range, and it's in a little spread section with white chocolate pistachio butter and marzipan butter. use this on toast, over ice cream, or eat it straight with a spoon!

chocolate halva spread

makes 3/4 cup


4 oz chopped milk chocolate

1/2 c tahini

1/8 tsp kosher salt

1/2 tsp vanilla extract


melt the chocolate in a double boiler or by microwaving in 30-second increments, stirring after each, until melted and smooth. stir in the tahini, salt, and vanilla. it will thicken as it cools.


(also hi from new york!!! i just got here yesterday, right in time for the taste talks awards. now i'm sitting in a hotel room in tarrytown silently freaking out about my first ever panel, at the nyt food for tomorrow conference. and on thursday, book festivities start with a trip to roberta's for heritage radio! and some personal news, my hair decided it wanted to start parting down the middle, so that's where we're at. book tour, commence!!)

if you've preordered molly on the range and would like to win a a stewart & claire chocolate halva lip balm, leave a comment here with your dream lip balm flavor! we're giving away 30! open to u.s. residents. enter now through pub date (10/4) and have your preorder receipt ready for if you win!