Pasteli: Greek Honey-Sesame Bars

December 18, 2014
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

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77 Comments

  • 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 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 Bobbj May 29, 2020 at 3:42 am

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

  • 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 Lauren March 6, 2020 at 7:05 pm

    Can I use already toasted sesame seeds for this recipe, and skip toasting them? Or would I need to toast them again? Thanks so much!

  • Reply John January 1, 2020 at 2:46 pm

    Been looking for this. Recipe worked well and also followed some of the tips from the other users5 stars

    • Reply Elena Paravantes RDN January 7, 2020 at 11:37 am

      Thank you John!

      • Reply Sally bell February 14, 2020 at 8:03 pm

        John. Were your sesame seeds hulled or unhulled? Ty5 stars

      • Reply Sally bell February 14, 2020 at 8:04 pm

        John. What type of sesame seeds did you use
        ? Ty5 stars

  • Reply Alice October 13, 2019 at 3:51 pm

    I’ve used this recipe as for some reason we had several packets of sesame seeds in the house? It is also one of my favourite shop bought snacks, so now I can get rid of additives in the snack and the plastic wrap waste. One question: after I’d rolled peeled off the top layer of greased baking paper (which I think is the same as wax paper) I did get a flat layer of seeds come away with it – no real sticking problem but it felt like a waste of seeds. Im in the UK and using clear runny honey – is that what the recipe intends? Do I need to leave the top layer of paper on longer or roll and remove it a bit quicker?

    • Reply Chef Burks November 18, 2019 at 4:25 am

      I suggest next time you allow them to set/cool, do it with a weighted sheet pan. Maybe a cast iron skillet or a gallon of milk idk… Something light enough to keep the size & integrity, but still heavy enough to apply even pressure. Hope this helps

      • Reply Chef Burks November 18, 2019 at 4:30 am

        Just re read what you said lol. I thought you said you DIDN’T get a flat layer.

        Now that I see the problem I think it may be because the wax paper wasn’t brushed adequately with oil. I would use pan spray or add lemon juice to the honey to prevent it from crystallizing.

  • Reply Rinjez September 4, 2019 at 6:29 am

    What doe that ingredient mean? Is it a half cup of honey?

    7 ounces about ½ cup plus 1 tablespoon honey

    • Reply Sara G September 24, 2019 at 6:34 pm

      It means a 1/2 cup of honey plus 1 tablespoon of honey.

      Or… You can weigh it out.

  • Reply Becky August 28, 2019 at 9:55 pm

    Just made these. They were so easy and are delicious!

  • Reply Sam June 12, 2019 at 1:37 pm

    Yia Sou,
    These were my favorite snack growing up. Also, could you recommend a great Med Diet. I need something to follow and try to get my family to jump on board as well. I miss growing up in Greece and eating healthy. A Monday through Sunday broken down diet which is easy to follow. email is [email protected]. Thank you so much.

    Sam Anagnostopoulos

  • Reply Zalerea January 18, 2019 at 1:12 am

    Please remove the vegan tag. Using honey which is a product created by animals goes against vegan definition. Thanks!

    • Reply Puela August 11, 2019 at 6:13 pm

      Good point! But so is sugar, which is processed with cow bones, yet most vegans use freely and call a vegan product, when it is not! Sugar is not even a vegetarian product.

  • Reply Jennifer Merioles January 3, 2019 at 12:18 am

    I made this for the first time yesterday. LOVE THIS SNACK!!! So easy to make. The only question I have is do they really get crispier with longer cooking time? I simmered the honey for a few minutes and the honey sesame seed mix for several minutes….it’s a gooey mess. I have to keep it in the fridge or it’s the consistance of honey out of the jar.

    • Reply Elena Paravantes RDN January 5, 2019 at 9:42 am

      Thanks Jennifer. The mix honey-nuts should be simmered 5-10 minutes. Another way is to wait for the honey to reach a temperature of 250F and then add the nuts.

      • Reply Sally Bell February 14, 2020 at 8:02 pm

        Going to try this recipie, do you use hulled or unhulled sesame? Ty x

  • Reply sudha gupta December 27, 2018 at 6:38 am

    thanks for sharing this recipe .
    it is so perfect and simple.
    when i followed your recipe sesame seeds bar came out crunchier than before what i used to do.

  • Reply Janene October 4, 2018 at 3:43 pm

    I can’t wait to try these, they sound like a perfect boost. Are the sesame seeds Hulled or Unhulled?

  • Reply Änne Sauer July 25, 2018 at 4:26 pm

    Thanks for the recipe! Having lived I Greece I loved these sesame bars, Never bothered to make them there since you can buy them anywhere,
    However, mine turned out too sticky and fudgy consistency. Maybe it’s because it’s really hot. Or maybe I didn’t use enough sesame seeds.

    I covered them with more sesame seeds and it’s still excellent to taste.
    Ευχάριστο πολύ

    • Reply Elena Paravantes RDN July 25, 2018 at 4:51 pm

      Thank you for your comment Anne. Sometimes if you do not heat the mixture enough it will not become hard.

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