Pasteli: Greek Honey-Sesame Bars

Pasteli

These sesame bars known as pasteli in Greek are the original power bars. They actually go back to antiquity, the ancient Greeks had a similar recipe that included a variety of nuts and honey. Today you can pretty much find pasteli anywhere in Greece. When I’m out and am looking for something quick I’ll stop by a periptero (kiosks that are everywhere) and that is what I’ll get. It is basically honey and sesame seeds. You can also find other types of pasteli that include other nuts such as pistachios.

These bars are traditionally consumed during times of fasting, when animal products are prohibited. If you do not already know, Greeks used to fast from animal products for about 180 days a year so these little things were nice little desserts to have.

I’ve seen these bars, being called sesame candy, but they are far from it, from nutritional point of view at least. Sesame is an excellent source of protein, a good source of calcium and iron, contains the good fats and the most phytosterols among nuts and seeds. Phytosterols are substances that appear to lower cholesterol levels and may protect from cancer. In addition sesame seeds contain antioxidants and fiber. The honey acts as a binder and a sweetener. They are a great snack during the day and kids love them too.

These bars are a concentrated source of calories and they are rich and sweet so you only need small amount. And I’m not just saying that, you really will feel satisfied after eating a small thin bar.

I decided to make my own, as holiday treats this year. They only contain honey and sesame seeds, unfortunately nowadays a lot of the pasteli you buy at the store contains glucose syrup.

The steps are simple, you just want to make sure you do not overcook it. I like mine to be thin and crispy, but you can roll them out in the size you wish. There are different recipes out there, I used the most straightforward one with equal amounts of honey and sesame seeds (by weight).

Pasteli: Greek Honey-Sesame Bars

Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Crunchy, Sweet and Protein rich bars. A traditional Greek snack made with only two ingredients.
Course: Dessert, Snack
Cuisine: Greek, Mediterranean, Vegan
Keyword: bar, honey, Pasteli, Sesame seed
Servings: 20 pieces.
Author: Elena Paravantes
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Ingredients

Instructions

  • Toast the sesame seeds. You can spread them in a pan and put them in the oven at 325 degrees Fahrenheit or you can toast them in a pan. You want them to get a bit of color but not too brown.
  • Pour the honey in medium sauce pan and heat the honey until it starts to bubble. Let it boil for 4-5 minutes. If you have a food thermometer, you boil until honey reaches a temperature of 250 F (125 C).
  • Pour the toasted sesame seeds, lower the heat and stir. Making sure all ingredients are mixed well together. Heat the mixture for 2-3 minutes more (the more it cooks the crunchier it will be-but be careful of scorching). To check if it is ready, take a small amount and drop it in a glass with water, it should stay in a ball, if it spreads out it still needs to be heated.
  • Line a pan with slightly greased (I spray or brush with olive oil) parchment paper and pour the sesame mixture, place another sheet of parchment paper on top (also greased) and spread out the sesame-honey mix with a rolling pin. I prefer to do this step directly on the table instead of using a pan, that way I can spread as thin as I like (mine are rolled out to ¼ inch thick).
  • Remove the top sheet carefully and let it cool for about 15 minutes. Cut in small bars (I use a pizza cutter).
  • Let them cool completely. Remove and store with parchment paper between them in airtight container.

Notes

It is advisable to weigh the ingredients.
Make sure you grease the parchment paper well.
DID YOU MAKE THIS RECIPE? Leave a comment or share on instagram and mention @greekdiet
Photo by Elena Paravantes

81 Comments

  1. Vegan or not is semantics with honey. If you want to eat it it’s vegan, etcetera. I eat it, but I’m not vegan, but I would think common scence and science clearly have shown that bees produce honey therefore it’s not vegan. I don’t mean to bee nasty at all, but why not agree to disagree and all but those whom are allergic enjoy honey!

    Placing a very hot mixture of a candy stage sweetener, will melt some of the wax off the paper. If you already eat many manufactured sugar candies, many of them also are made with wax, just wanted to let you know. Use parchment instead.

    Keeping pasteli in the refrigerator will keep it moist, and soft. This is makes removing moisture from the honey a waste of your time. Adding moisture in this way also can cause mould spores to ruin your pasteli.5 stars

  2. Curious – I just spent some time in Greece and loved these. I also saw pasteli made with granola. Have you tried that? It was so good as well but I haven’t found a recipe yet.

  3. OMG …. Im trying this I will use non wax baking paper. Im so excited. My fondest memory is travelling throughout Greece mainland with a kilo of pastelli in the car to snack on. It was the best pastelli I have ever eaten. I hope overseas travel opens up so I can return

    1. This is a great and easy recipe. Thank you for sharing. I personally don’t cut them into bars. Since it’s for me I break it up into different size pieces like peanut Brittle. Works perfectly!5 stars

  4. Thank you! 1 quick question. Does using fresh raw honey make any difference as opposed to well, non raw? I am lucky to get my hands on some great raw honey but maybe its a waste since its cooked to that high temp. Any opinions? I am addicted to this stuff! Just bought a fresh bag of raw hulled white seeds & some other nuts to try too!5 stars

    1. Oops! I wanted to ask if you’ve ever used soaked/sprouted then dried seeds. It supposedly helps in digestion. Im going to try that way just to see what happens! Thank you again!5 stars

      1. You are incorrect. Honey is made by bees by the process of eating flower nectar and then throwing up the nectar after it has been changed in the upper digestive tract. The honey is then thickened through water evaporation to become the food bees store to eat when other food is not available, but we steal it as we have for thousands of years.5 stars

      2. You’re incorrect as well. The nectar never reaches their digestive system. It is stored in a structure called the honey crop which lies above their stomach. While there, enzymes break down the nectar into simple sugars. Once back in the hive, the nectar is passed from bee to bee through trophallaxis (mouth-to-mouth) and further altered by enzymes. Technically, since it has never entered the digestive system proper, it is not thrown up. One it is placed into a cell, it is ripened as you mentioned through evaporation until it reaches a moisture content of 18% or lower when it is then capped.

  5. [CONTINUED] *translucent material!)

    As the other comments point out, it was very sweet and also, decrystallized and turned sticky in a few seconds (could it be because I refrigerated it?)

    I hope you would leave an extra note on the wax paper though! (that could save others from the trouble and disappointment we had to go through) and thank you for the otherwise wonderful recipe!

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