Dairy free, Desserts, Gluten free, Vegan

Pasteli: Greek Honey-Sesame Bars

PasteliThese 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 RDN
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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 moxed 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 slight greased (I spray or brush with olive oil) wax paper or parchment paper and pour the sesame mixture, place another sheet of wax 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 wax 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

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72 Comments

  • Reply Dana Chauvel May 11, 2020 at 5:22 am

    Super easy recipe. And tastes just like the ones you buy in packets! Best of all, know exactly what is in it!5 stars

  • Reply Bobbj May 29, 2020 at 3:42 am

    I’d like to know the calories and nutritional info on these.

  • Reply Misty October 4, 2020 at 6:34 am

    Thank you for this recipe. I plan on making it tomorrow. I read thru the thread to get tips from others who have tried it. There is no scientific basis for honey being heated turning to poison. I have been cooking with honey for years and even add it to my hot beverages and people have been cooking with honey for hundreds of years. With that said I have been looking for a tried and true recipe with minimal ingredients and no corn syrup. Thank you for sharing your recipes.

  • Reply Denise November 13, 2020 at 5:03 am

    What type of sesame seeds do you use? Hulled or unhulled? I want to buy sesame seeds but not the wrong ones. I’ve been craving pasteli but there is no chance I Will get to go to Greece anytime soon with this pandemic. My mom and yiayia made a lot of delicious Greek treats but never pasteli. I’m so excited to make it! Thanks for the recipe

  • Reply Susan Lorah December 20, 2020 at 12:16 am

    could you tell me the approximate size of these bars

  • Reply Ah Ju Ma December 24, 2020 at 3:56 pm

    It is delicious however DO NOT USE WAX PAPER!!!!
    I read a comment warning the same but chose to ignore it since I planned tp grease it and let the mix cool down before I spread it on the paper. It was all good until I took it out a couple of hours later and the paper had stuck it! It took so long to peel the wax paper off (I’m sure some tiny bits are still there since it was barely visible thanks to the translut3 stars

    • Reply Ah Ju Ma December 24, 2020 at 4:03 pm

      [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!

  • Reply Emma January 10, 2021 at 3:23 am

    Hem… It is categorised as a vegan recipe but honey is an animal-product…

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