Pasteli, the ancient Greek energy bar, dates back to the Homeric era. This sesame and honey energy bar provided sustenance to Greek warriors during the Trojan War. It was a staple meal for the Spartan military before battles, offering them essential energy and nourishment.
The classic recipe comprises honey and sesame seeds. However, you have the liberty to introduce variety by incorporating nuts like pistachios, walnuts, and almonds for added crunch. You can even experiment with elements like cranberries or infuse flavors using orange/lemon peel, cinnamon, or cloves. In Greece, modern variations of Pasteli abound, boasting diverse flavors and textures. My personal favorite is a crispy blend featuring sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, cinnamon, and vanilla extract.
You can make it soft or crunchy, thick or thin. Try to find your favorite mixture. The ratio is 1:1. 1 part (100g) honey and 1 part (100 g) seeds or/and nuts.
How to make Pasteli, the ancient Greek energy bar
- Start by placing the seeds in a dry skillet (no oil) over medium heat. Heat, shake the pan and stir with a spoon, until the seeds are fragrant and lightly golden, about 3 minutes. Stay at the stove because the seeds can easily burn!
- Then add honey in a non-stick pan over high heat. When the honey starts to bubble, lower the heat and add the lightly roasted sesame seeds and sunflower seeds. Stir continuously for 7 minutes. If you want your Pasteli softer in texture, remove it from the heat after 5 minutes.
- Add vanilla extract, a pinch of salt and cinnamon.
- The texture of your Pasteli depends on the type of honey and the cooking time. Raw honey results in a softer treat, so you can cook it less. With regular honey, a slightly longer cooking time is preferable for a firmer consistency.
- You can also perform a water test. Just take a bit of the pasteli mixture with a teaspoon and dip it into cold water. If you’re able to shape a small, firm ball with it, then it’s ready.
- Place a sheet of parchment paper on a baking sheet and spread the pasteli mixture over it. Cover with another sheet of parchment paper and gently use a rolling pin to flatten the pasteli until it’s about 0.5-1 cm (0.20-0.40 in) thick.
- Once the mixture has cooled slightly, cut it into squares. Then, when it’s completely cold, cut it again into your desired serving size.
- Keep it fresh by storing it in an airtight container, placing parchment paper between each layer to prevent sticking.
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