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marble semolina cake with poached pears 3

Marble semolina cake with poached pears (Halva)

A chocolate & vanilla vegan semolina cake with pears cooked in syrup! This is a Greek traditional super moist cake also known as halva!
Course Dessert, Sweets
Cuisine Greek
Keyword cake, halva, recipe, semolina
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 50 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 20 minutes
Author The Hungry Bites


  • For the semolina cake:
  • 3/4 cups vegetable oil (I use half olive oil and half sunflower oil)
  • 2 cups semolina (coarsely ground, or half coarse and half fine)
  • 2 cups white sugar
  • 1 cup light brown sugar (you can substitute all white sugar)
  • 4 cups water
  • Pinch of salt
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 3.5 oz (100 grams) chopped chocolate, 55% cocoa
  • For the poached pears:
  • 6 medium pears, peeled
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 stick cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • A few strings of red saffron, about 10 (Greek red krokos)
  • For the olive oil chocolate ganache (optional):
  • 5.3 oz (150 grams) chopped chocolate, 55% cocoa
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil


  1. Lightly oil an 8 cup bundt pan, or another mold of your preference.

  2. Make the syrup: Place in a pot the sugar, water, cinnamon and salt. Bring to a boil and turn off the heat.
  3. Make the halva: In the meantime, in a large, deep pot heat the oil and semolina. Cook in medium high or high heat, stirring constantly until it gets deeper in color and starts to smell nutty. Take off the heat.

  4. Remove cinnamon sticks from the syrup and add the vanilla.

    Carefully – because it will bubble a lot and may pop – add the syrup in the pot with the semolina mixture.

    Return to heat, reduce to medium and stir until the mixture thickens. It should be like a cake batter, but with coarse granules.

  5. Divide the mixture in two parts and add the chocolate into the one. Stir to combine and melt.

    Spoon the batter by spoonfuls in the mold, alternating the vanilla and chocolate mixtures, pressing it firmly to fill every gap.

    Let it cool for 30 minutes and invert it onto a plate. It will need a few taps to come off the mold.

  6. To make the poached pears: Peel the pears leaving the stems, and optionally remove the pits by cutting them in half or making holes through their bottom.

    Place them in a pot with te rest of the ingredients and simmer gently for 15-20 minutes until soft. Leave them in the syrup to cool.

  7. To make the chocolate ganache: In a pot over low heat, melt the olive oil with the chocolate. Transfer to a bowl and let it cool and thicken to pouring consistency.
  8. Serve the cake with the pears and drizzle with the olive oil ganache.


Recipe Notes

The olive oil ganache is a bit temperamental. It will seem very runny at first, but as it gets cold it can thicken very suddently. If you put it in the fridge to cool, check it very very often. If it hardens while being in the fridge, warm it in the microwaves, in 5 sec increments.