Semsemeya Or Egyptian Sesame Candy: Sweetness Beyond Taste

The sweetness of some childhood candies go beyond their taste! Don’t you agree?

I grew up as a Christian minority in a Muslim dominant country but can’t write enough about the affection that tied me with my Muslim neighbors, friends, colleagues, and mentors.

This healthy relationship was made possible by my open-minded parents who taught me to respect and love the other and cherish our existing differences.

When it comes to feasts, food, and candies, differences melt away and joy is what brings it all together.

Sesame candy along an assortment of sticky, chewy candies are associated with the nation-wide celebrated Birth of Prophet Mohamed in Egypt.

These candies that go by the name of halawet el mouled were seldom homemade. The ornate streets used to be lined with small and big booths that sold piles of candy boxes to endless lines of shoppers.

I vividly remember my grandpa every year buying me a colorful sugar doll that is considered the queen of all candies for that occasion.

Recently, the soaring prices of these candies have encouraged Egyptian Food figures to share, on their TV shows, all the tricks and tips of  homemaking halawet el mouled or these yummy candies.

Among a galore of recipes, it wasn’t difficult to pick a reliable one for my first trial. This year and for the first time, I attempted homemade semsemeya or sesame candies. Recipe credit goes to Chef Zeinab Mustapha, the renowned TV food figure @cbcsofra Channel.

After successfully making two batches of these, I see myself repeating the experience a few more times. I even shared some with friends and the feedback was so rewarding.

None of the ingredients for this candy are hard to find. Actually four out of five are available in almost every pantry.

However, I should mention that the two main secret ingredients for this candy are patience and speed. You can’t undercook or overcook the sticky syrup that glues the golden-hued sesame seeds together.

Start first with toasting the sesame seeds. The seeds are better warm when they are tossed in the sugar-glucose mixture. The sticky sugar glue that turns the sesame seeds into bars and squares is nothing more than sugar, glucose (which is sugar in its liquid form), a drizzle of vanilla, and a splash of lemon.

These ingredients have to melt and bubble until a candy thermometer indicates 150°C.  If you don’t have a thermometer,  just drop a drizzle of this bubbling liquid in a bowl with tap water.  When it hardens, try to break the little piece with your fingers. If it is chewy, then it is not ready, if it cracks like a piece of glass,  remove the pan from the heat immediately.

Once the sugar-glucose mixture is ready, toss in the warm sesame seeds, and stir with a wooden spoon until all the sesame seeds are coated. Quickly dump the mixture onto a sheet pan lined with parchment paper. Flatten the sticky lump with a sizable rolling pin sprayed with oil.

With an oiled sharp knife, cut the candy into squares or any shape or size you want before it hardens and becomes stiff. I personally prefer to cut them into small, square pieces with a width that doesn’t exceed 0.75″. Tasty treats always come in small portions!

These authentic treats are nothing short of a miracle. Once you bite into them, they crack, releasing the deep flavor of toasted sesame, enhanced by the vanilla scent, while the brittle of caramel just melts on your tongue.

After the smashing popularity of these candies, I see myself making them as Christmas gifts.

Please like and share this recipe and I will be forever grateful.

For more iconic recipes from my Egyptian kitchen made easy, follow my IG account @cheznermine.

Semsemeya or Sesame Candy

Recipe credit to Chef Zeinab Mustapha

Makes 35 to 40 squares


  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup liquid glucose
  • 1 tablespoon of lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla
  • 1 1/2 cup of toasted sesame


  1. Toast the sesame seeds in a large pan and don’t walk away so they don’t burn and become bitter.
  2. Cook the caramel. Add the sugar and glucose to a large pan, and let it melt over medium heat. Add the vanilla and lemon juice and keep stirring the sugar-glucose mix until it reaches 150°C. Turn off the heat, add the sesame seeds, and keep stirring so all the sesame seeds are coated with the sticky mix.
  3. Shape the candies. Pour the sugar-glucose-sesame seeds mixture onto a sheet pan lined with parchment paper. Flatten the big lump with a rolling pin sprayed with oil. Keep flattening until you reach the thickness of your choice. With an oiled sharp knife, cut the flattened bulk into squares or bars, while the candy is still hot and malleable.
  4. Let the candies harden on the kitchen counter for an hour
  5. Store them in an insulated container for up to 10 days.


  • Avoid keeping these candies in the fridge as the candies will soften and the sugar will turn into a liquid.

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Former diplomat | Travel & Food Writer | Stauch advocate of Culinary Diplomacy. Find more here:

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