This no-bake Greek halva is a semolina-based vegan cake with a texture between a moist cake and a pudding. The coconut milk and chocolate ganache makes it extra decadent!
During Lent and especially on Clean Monday every Greek household has a Greek halva cake on the table. This type of dessert is actually a no-bake semolina cake with a texture between a moist cake and a pudding. It doesn’t require baking because it’s made in a pot (you basically cook the semolina with the oil and then add some simple syrup) and because it’s Lenten, it’s also vegan 🙂 You can use a mild olive oil, a neutral tasting vegetable oil (like corn oil or sunflower oil), or a mix of the above.
This Greek halva with semolina is also called the 1-2-3-4 cake because the most common ingredient proportions are 1 cup oil, 2 cups semolina, 3 cups sugar and 4 cups water. However, you’ll notice that I have reduced the oil and the sugar because I find it much better and lighter. The procedure is simple: first, you toast the semolina with the oil in a pot over medium heat, and make a fragrant simple syrup with the sugar, the water, and some spices. Then, you pour the syrup into the pot and stir until the semolina absorbs all the liquid. Be careful because the semolina and the syrup will both be very hot and the mixture will start to bubble vigorously. That’s why it is best to remove the pot from the heat during this stage. For more halva recipes, make sure you check this classic no-bake semolina cake (greek halva) and this chocolate and vanilla halva with poached pears.
What is semolina?
Semolina is ground durum wheat, but not so finely ground that it becomes flour. In Greece, there are two different semolina types: finely ground and coarsely ground. Finely ground semolina is mostly used for creams and custards for desserts like Bougatsa. I don’t have a classic bougatsa recipe on the blog (yet), but I do have an easy bougatsa (Greek milk pie recipe) which is just as good and a lot easier! For this Greek halva cake it is best to use coarsely ground semolina, or if you have both types you can use 1 part finely ground and 2 parts coarsely ground.
How to make vegan whipped chocolate ganache
This semolina cake is topped with whipped chocolate ganache. And the easiest way you can make a chocolate ganache vegan is to use full fat coconut milk instead of cream. Also, most good quality dark chocolates are naturally vegan, because they contain only cocoa solids, cocoa butter and some sugar (and probably some vanilla extract). The semolina cake is already sweet enough, so a very small amount of sugar is used for the ganache. You can also substitute maple syrup or even omit the sugar completely.
- Toast the semolina with the oil very well, over medium heat until it has darkened in color and starts to smell nutty. Stir constantly to prevent it from burning. This will give flavor to the halva cake.
- Be careful when pouring the syrup into the pot with the semolina.The mixture will bubble vigorously.
- In some countries coconut milk is also called coconut cream. For this vegan chocolate mousse you will need a coconut milk/cream with 20% fat. The best way to check this is by reading the ingredient list on the back side of the can.
- Most good quality dark chocolates are naturally vegan. You should check the ingredient list, just to be sure.
Similar recipes you may like:
- Homemade Greek rice pudding (Rizogalo)
- Vegan olive oil and tahini chocolate cake
- Olive oil Baklava Fingers (vegan)
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- 1 cup (200 grams) coarsely ground semolina
- 1/2 cup (100 grams) finely ground semolina
- 1/3 cup (75 grams) mild olive oil
- 2 cups (400 grams) sugar
- 3 cups (750 grams) water
- 2 cinnamon sticks
- 5 cloves
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- pinch of salt
- 12.4 oz (350 grams) dark chocolate 55% – 65% cocoa, finelly chopped
- 13.5 fl. oz (1 can / 400 ml) coconut milk 20% fat
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- pinch of salt
- cocoa powder for dusting
Make the syrup: transfer the sugar, the water, the salt, the cinnamon sticks, and the cloves to a pot. Bring to a boil, let it bubble for 1 minute, and turn off the heat.
In the meantime, toast the semolina: transfer the oil and the semolina to a large, deep pot and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until it gets deeper in color and starts to smell nutty. Take off the heat.
Remove the cinnamon sticks and the cloves from the syrup and add the vanilla. Carefully (because it will bubble a lot) add the syrup in the pot with the semolina mixture. Return to the heat and cook stirring constantly until the mixture thickens and it starts to pull away from the sides of the pot. Lightly oil an 8-inch round pan. Spoon the halva into the pan and press it with the back of the spoon or a spatula until the surface is level. Let it cool for 30 minutes, invert it onto a serving plate, and transfer it in the fridge to cool completely.
Make the chocolate ganache: Transfer all the ingredients for the ganache to a small pot and heat gently over medium heat until almost all the chocolate has melted. Remove from the heat and stir until the chocolate melts completely. Transfer the ganache to a clean bowl and refrigerate for 30 minutes to 1 hour or until it reaches the consistency of thick yogurt.
Using an electric mixer (or even a whisk) whip the chocolate ganache until soft peaks form. Don’t over-whip (keep in mind that it will become more firm once refrigerated again). Transfer into a piping pag and pipe it over the halva, or using a spatula spread it on an even, thick layer. Optionally, dust with cocoa powder. Eat!
Keep refrigerated for 4 – 5 days.
If you pipe the whipped chocolate ganache you will probably have some leftover which you can serve by scoops next to each slice. Otherwise, you can make half the recipe of the mousse:
- 1 cup minus 2 tablespoons (200 ml) coconut milk
- 6.2 oz (175 grams) chocolate
- 1 tablespoon sugar
If you accidentally over-whip the ganache and becomes too stiff, you can heat it briefly in the microwaves until it becomes soft again (or even melt it completely and start over).
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Nick @ GreekBoston.com says
Halva is a traditional Greek dessert that is often made with semolina (there are other versions that use tahini). This is a nice spin on traditional Halva, especially since it uses rich chocolate and has a nice, flavorful ganache.
WOW this cake is so unique! I love halva and chocolate together!
Thank you Natalie!