Pasteli: Greek Honey-Sesame Bars

December 18, 2014

Pasteli Greek Sesame honey bars

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

Yield: 20 2 X 1 inch pieces.

Pasteli: Greek Honey-Sesame Bars

Ingredients

  • 1 ½ cup sesame seeds
  • ½ cup plus 1 tablespoon honey

Instructions

  1. 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.
  2. Pour the honey in medium sauce pan and heat the honey until it starts to bubbly.
  3. Pour the toasted sesame seeds, lower the heat and stir. Heat the mixture for about 5-10 minutes (the more it cooks the crunchier it will be-but be careful of scorching).
  4. Line a pan with slight greased wax paper and pour the mixture, place another sheet of wax paper on top 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).
  5. Remove the top sheet carefully and let it cool for about 15 minutes. Cut in small bars (I use a pizza cutter).
  6. Let them cool completely. Remove and store with wax paper between them in airtight container.

Notes

It is advisable to weigh the ingredients and make sure you have about 7 ounces of each ingredient.

Photo by Elena Paravantes

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21 Comments

  • Reply Sophie December 18, 2014 at 6:25 pm

    I used to love these when I was younger – so tasty!! I agree with you, they are very satisfying. Nothing like nuts/seeds in a snack to satisfy you!

    • Reply Elena Paravantes RD December 19, 2014 at 7:18 am

      Exactly! Love nuts and seeds!

    • Reply Jane April 3, 2017 at 12:27 am

      I made these just of the recipe indicated. They came out perfect. I have eaten half of them already. I love using a Bing pizza cutter to slice through treats. I also spread them out right on the counter over a piece of parchment paper sprayed with coconut oil. Put another piece on top, before putting the mixture, and transferred part of that coconut oil on to the other piece of paper first.
      I don’t have a rolling pin so I used a straight edge glass. Thanks I needed a treat they did not include any sugar.

      • Reply Elena April 7, 2017 at 5:15 am

        Thanks for sharing Jane!

  • Reply Laura December 18, 2014 at 8:51 pm

    This is great. I have been planning to buy these for an upcoming long-distance hike, but now I can just make my own!

    • Reply Elena Paravantes RD December 19, 2014 at 7:18 am

      Great! Just in time. These will be perfect, just make sure to wrap them as they can be sticky.

  • Reply r.a. December 19, 2014 at 5:19 pm

    I remember my mother buying these for us occasionally as a treat, I never thought of making them but I will be buying some sesame seeds today to make these. I have recently been reading articles on PubMed about studies measuring the difference between honey and sugar. While nobody is saying to eat honey with abandon the studies are showing the body handles honey much better and there are positive results compared to sugar. When it was pointed out that honey is a whole food, it makes sense. Thanks for providing a recipe for a sweet treat that will satisfy.

  • Reply r.a. December 22, 2014 at 6:16 pm

    I made this twice in the last couple of days and wonder if anybody else had problems getting the bottom layer of waxed paper off after this set and cooled? I peeled off the top layer of waxed paper as soon as it would pull away without taking the mixture with it but the bottom layer would not budge. I did try to lightly oil it but with wax paper being what it is the oil beaded up and tried to run somewhere. I was finally able to get it off by heating it with a hair blow dryer,picking it with a sharp knife tip and peeling it bit by bit. Aside from that, it is delicious! I would love to make this again but would like to do so without extra steps.

    • Reply Elena Paravantes RD December 22, 2014 at 7:23 pm

      Yes, it is a sticky process. You can grease your pan with a bit of oil. Or you can use an ice cube and slide it on the places where the wax paper has stuck, it loosens it and then you can remove any stuck paper fairly easy.

      • Reply r.a. December 22, 2014 at 7:50 pm

        Thank you!

    • Reply Veronica July 15, 2016 at 1:40 am

      Hi R.A.! I made them too, and the wax paper idea is just pure evil! I had to throw my first batch out. 🙁 Now, I just grease the bottom of my pan and when they’re cooled they come out much easier (if slightly greasier). Tasty recipe though! Thanks Elena! 🙂

  • Reply Justin Kamp January 24, 2015 at 9:22 am

    This is my Fev Greek Pasteli, I luv it.

  • Reply Spa Bucovina May 5, 2015 at 6:38 pm

    Great recipe!

  • Reply Carla White October 24, 2016 at 8:31 pm

    Made these the other day. Heavenly.

  • Reply 3 Easy Ancient Greek Recipes You Can Make Today | Olive Tomato November 24, 2016 at 6:02 am

    […] to today’s: Pasteli, a honey- sesame bar. Click here for […]

  • Reply lise haig November 28, 2016 at 11:52 pm

    I lightly buttered parchment paper and rolled them there and had no sticking problems at all. Nice to find a healthier candy alternative to appease my sweet tooth.

  • Reply Yasmeen March 29, 2017 at 4:18 pm

    Thanks for the recipe! easy to make with just 2 ingredients. I found it too sweet for my taste though, if I add more sesame or decrease the honey will it still bind properly?

    • Reply Elena April 7, 2017 at 5:17 am

      I’m not sure if it will bind, it may be a bit too dry.

  • Reply Marjorie Stradinger April 10, 2017 at 10:22 pm

    After craving these I bought some at my local supposedly upscale grocery. Corn syrup, ugh! No more. I am so grateful for your authentic recipe.

  • Reply Pippa Lawson August 25, 2017 at 4:01 am

    Parchment paper works far better than wax paper, but even better to avoid sticking is a silicon mat – no need for grease! Thanks for this awesome recipe.

    • Reply Elena August 25, 2017 at 7:03 am

      Thanks for the tip Pippa!

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