Making Albanian Hallva with New Friends

Hallva was the very first Albanian dish we ever tried after landing in Tirana from Italy just a few months ago. The day that we moved into our new apartment, one of our kind and generous neighbors brought us some on a small plate. The exchange was conducted with a lot of smiles and gesturing. We only knew how to say yes, no, and thank you in Albanian at the time. She simply said, “for you,” and handed over the dish with a smile, motioning with her hands coming up to her mouth that she was offering us some food.

Heart-Shaped Hallva
Heart-Shaped Hallva, an Albanian Sweet Treat!

We’d never seen or tasted hallva before. In fact, we’d never even heard of anything like this dish prior to our arrival! It was just another one of the wonderfully welcoming aspects of being surrounded by a new culture–one that we all adore!!!

So it was our absolute pleasure to share this inviting dessert with Erika and Lino Ferriera and their 5 children as they breezed through Albania on their cooking tour of Europe. Their culinary adventures, which they’re documenting over at Live Fully, Love Well, will be culminating in a cookbook! I knew Erika was a woman after my own heart before we’d ever met. Which is why I was so happy to invite the whole family into Our Kitchen Classroom so that we could all prepare this simple little Albanian sweet treat together!

We met at a nearby landmark, then walked back to our place, stopping along the way to pick up a snack of byrek and juice. Then the children all gathered around the table to crack walnuts in the most creative ways they could muster! Our Little Sous even stepped out onto the balcony to test his theory that the tough nut would split evenly along its seam if dropped from a height. I’ll let you and your children experiment on your own to learn the outcome of *that* one!

After clearing the table of the majority of the walnut debris, the children naturally split off into three groups.

PLAYING with Leogs
Hunting down the Leogs to construct a robotic car

The two older boys headed for the Legos on the coffee table.

Cleaning up is Family Fun!
Yes, even cleaning up is part of the family fun!!!

The two youngest argued over who got to use the sponge and who got to use the towel when washing up the table.

Cooking the Hallva Dough
Cooking the Hallva Dough

And the two middle girls headed straight for the stove to help prepare the hallva dough.

Once the dough was completed, we set it aside to cool while the children put away their toys and cleaning supplies. Then, they all washed their hands to shape their desserts. It was so much fun to see each child’s creativity come through in the manner in which s/he handled the hallva. Using their very best kitchen tools–their hands–they each shaped their own dough, decorating it with the walnut pieces we’d shelled earlier, as desired.

PLAYING with hallva dough was so much fun with our new friends, the Ferrieras!!! Want to check out their cookbook project for the recipe to this simple Albanian dessert? Want the insider scoop on a few other local specialties that we shared with them during their visit? Jump over to our #PLAYwithYourFood Community to stay up-to-date on all the latest details and discussion!!!

Handmade Family Fun
The children get their hands dirty and have some good old fashioned fun in Albania!

Want to come and cook with us in person here at Our Kitchen Classroom??? Click here to schedule a chat so we can discuss your family’s unique desires for a Culinary and Cultural Experience here in Tirana, Albania, or in Japan in the spring of 2019!

Please tell us what you think!