The author wondered why chocolate was usually left out of the dough of a classic Purim treat. Photograph by Tami Ganeles/Weiser/The Weiser Kitchen.
Chocolate is in many ways the quintessential example of a food that is both Old and New World. Cacao, the bean from which chocolate is derived, was well known to both the Aztec and the Mayan peoples. It was a bitter powder ground from pods and prized for its alleged aphrodisiac properties.
The Spanish Conquistadors took cocoa back to Europe with them, where they concocted a wildly popular drink with the addition of sugar (also a New World food) and copious amounts of milk or cream. There you have it: the invention of the hot chocolate we would likely recognize today.
Sweet, creamy dulce de leche — a rich Latino caramel — is a wonderful counterpoint to chocolate’s slightly bitter edge. The warmth of ground chilies hits the palate last. This is a great cookie for adventurous eaters. Photograph by Tami Ganeles-Weiser/The Weiser Kitchen.
Makes 36 cookies
For the dough:
3½ cups unbleached, all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tablespoons baking powder
½ teaspoon kosher salt
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon, Mexican preferred
½ teaspoon ground guajillo chili powder (or other medium-hot chili)
½ teaspoon ground ancho chili powder (or other relatively mild chili)
¼ teaspoon ground cayenne pepper, optional
2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, room temperature
1¾ cups light brown sugar
3 large eggs
4 ounces dark chocolate (between 68% and 72% cacao), melted in microwave or a double boiler and cooled to room temperature
3 tablespoons Kahlua or other chocolate liqueur
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
For the egg wash:
1 egg white
2 teaspoons water
For the filling:
1 cup dulce de leche
For the drizzle:
8 ounces semisweet chocolate, finely chopped (between 58% and 64% cacao)
1) Make the dough: Combine the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, guajillo and ancho chili powders and cayenne pepper in a mixing bowl, and whisk well to combine. Set aside.
2) In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment (or, if you are using a handheld mixer, in a large mixing bowl), combine the butter and light brown sugar, and mix at medium speed for about 2 minutes, until light and fluffy. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Add the eggs, one at a time, and mix after each addition until incorporated. Add the melted dark chocolate, and mix to combine. With the mixer running at low speed, gradually add the flour mixture and mix to form a dough.
3) Shape the dough into 2 flat, round disks, wrap tightly in plastic, and refrigerate for at least 3 hours, until very firm. (This dough can be refrigerated for up to 5 days before rolling and baking.)
4) Preheat the oven to 350° F. Line 2 rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper or nonstick baking mats and set aside. Lightly flour a work surface and a rolling pin.
5) Place 1 disk of dough on the work surface, and roll out until it is between ¼- and ⅛-inch thick. (The second disk should remain refrigerated while you do the first batch.) With a 3-inch cutter, cut out as many rounds as possible and set on the prepared baking sheet, arranging them about 1 inch apart, 12 circles per sheet. Collect scraps, reroll and cut into additional rounds once.
6) Make the egg wash by whisking the egg white and 1 teaspoon of water in a bowl. With a pastry brush, brush the edges of each round of dough with the egg wash.
7) Place 1 heaping teaspoon of dulce de leche in the center of each. Fold up the edges to shape each filled round into a triangle, pinching them to form points, and leaving a small amount of filling exposed at the top. Repeat with the remaining chilled dough and filling. Brush the dough with egg wash.
8) Chill the filled hamantaschen in the refrigerator for 10–15 minutes.
9) Bake for 9–10 minutes, alternating the baking sheets between the oven racks and turning the trays halfway through the baking time. Let cool for 10–12 minutes. Bake the remaining hamantaschen.
10) Meanwhile, melt the semisweet chocolate in the microwave for 2–3 minutes, stirring often. When it is melted, drizzle decoratively over the hamantaschen.
Tami Ganeles-Weiser is a food anthropologist, trained chef, recipe developer, writer and founder of TheWeiserKitchen.com.
Chocolate and halvah are a perfect pairing, and this cookie, fudgy and rich, is as delicious as it sounds. Photograph by Tami Ganeles/Weiser/The Weiser Kitchen.
Yields 36 cookies
For the dough:
4¾ cups all-purpose flour
⅓ cup cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter
3½ cups granulated sugar
3 large eggs
⅓ cup strong coffee, espresso preferred, room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 tablespoons chocolate liqueur, Godiva preferred
For the filling:
2 cups Nutella, or any chocolate nut spread
2 cups crumbled halvah, traditional or marble
For the egg wash:
2 egg whites
1 teaspoon water
1) Make the dough: Combine the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt in a large mixing bowl and stir to blend well.
2) In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment (or, if you are using a handheld mixer, in a large mixing bowl), combine the butter and sugar and mix at medium speed for 3–5 minutes, until light and fluffy. Scrape down side of bowl with a rubber spatula.
3) With the mixer running at low speed, gradually add the flour mixture, scraping down the side of the bowl as necessary. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing after each addition until fully incorporated. Add the coffee, vanilla bean paste and chocolate liqueur and mix to form a dough.
4) Shape the dough into 2 flat, round disks, wrap tightly in plastic and refrigerate for at least 4 hours, until very firm. (This dough can be refrigerated for up to 3 days before rolling and baking.)
5) When you are ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350° F. Line 2 rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper or nonstick baking mats and set aside. Lightly flour a work surface and a rolling pin.
6) Place 1 disk of dough on the work surface, and roll out until it is between ¼- and ⅛-inch thick. (The second disk should remain refrigerated while you do the first batch.) With a 3-inch cutter, cut out as many rounds as possible and place on the prepared baking sheets, arranging them about 1 inch apart. Collect the scraps of dough, re-roll once, cut additional circles and place on the baking sheet.
7) Make the egg wash by whisking the egg whites and 1 teaspoon of water in a bowl. With a pastry brush, brush the edges of each round of dough with the egg wash.
8) Place the Nutella and crumbled halvah in a small mixing bowl and stir until fully combined. It will not be smooth and may have a few small chunks.
9) Place 1 heaping teaspoon of the filling in the center of each circle. Fold up the edges to shape each filled round into a triangle, pinching them to form points, and leaving a small amount of filling exposed at the top. Repeat with the remaining chilled dough and filling. Brush the dough (but not the filling) with egg wash.
10) Chill the filled hamantaschen in the refrigerator for 10 minutes.
11) Bake for 13–14 minutes, until firm, alternating the baking sheets between the oven racks and turning the trays 180° F halfway through the baking time. Let cool for 5–7 minutes and transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely. Bake the remaining hamantaschen.
Tami Ganeles-Weiser is a food anthropologist, trained chef, recipe developer, writer and founder of TheWeiserKitchen.com.
Photograph by Mark Hurvitz
Tu B’Shvat brings the opportunity, and the excuse, to create a chocolate bark using fruits and nuts connected to the land of Israel. Stay with the fruits of the traditional Sheva Minim, the Seven Species of fruits and grains mentioned as special to the land of Israel in the Bible, such as pomegranate, fig, date and raisin.
Or, celebrate any of the other fruit delights available in Israel today — papaya, mango, apple, peach, pear, citrus. Make your selection anticipating the colors decorating the bark. For this version, I used figs, dates, pistachios and slivered almonds, with a base of dark chocolate.
Chocolate Bark with Fruits of Israel
About 16 ounces quality dark chocolate (or milk, if preferred)
4 figs, roughly chopped
4 dates, roughly chopped
A handful of raisins and nuts
1) Oil a 7” x 9” baking pan with a rim and then line it with waxed paper so the paper extends about an inch at two ends.
2) In a large heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water, stir the chocolate until melted.
3) Remove the chocolate from the heat and smooth it into the pan to the thickness desired for your bark. Decorate the bark with your mix of dried fruit and nut toppings. Cool on the baking sheet until hardened. (Place into the refrigerator to quicken the hardening.) Break or cut into slabs and store in a cool place in a covered container.
Rabbi Deborah R. Prinz lectures about chocolate and Jews around the world. Her book, “On the Chocolate Trail: A Delicious Adventure Connecting Jews, Religions, History, Travel, Rituals and Recipes to the Magic of Cacao”, was published in 2013 by Jewish Lights and is in its second printing. The book is used in adult study, classroom settings, book clubs and chocolate tastings. Prinz writes for The Huffington Post, On the Chocolate Trail, Reform Judaism, Jew and the Carrot and elsewhere.
Free download: Lesson plans for use in schools on chocolate related topics such as Sephardi North American Colonial traders, Hanukkah, Passover, Jewish history, blessings and more.
To make this dessert a quick one, use a prepared chestnut spread (available online and, at this time of year, at some supermarkets) and store-bought meringue cookies. Photograph by Vared Guttman
2 ounces 100% cocoa unsweetened chocolate (or the darkest you can find), broken to small chunks
1½ whipping cream, divided
½ lb. + 1 tablespoon chestnut spread (see note)
2 cups crumbled meringue cookies (in large chunks)
Zest of half orange or 1 teaspoon orange blossom water (mazahar, available at Middle Eastern stores)
1) Put chocolate in a medium bowl. Bring ½ cup whipping cream to boil in a pot over medium-high heat or in the microwave and pour over chocolate. Let stand for 1 minute, then stir quickly for a smooth cream. Cover with plastic wrap and chill for a couple of hours.
2) Whip 1 cup cream with 1 tablespoon chestnut spread to soft peaks in a stand mixer. Fold meringue cookie chunks in. Divide between 6 dessert cups.
3) Transfer chocolate mixture to the same bowl of the stand mixer (you do not need to clean the bowl), add ½ lb. chestnut spread and orange zest and whip to create a smooth, airy cream. Transfer chestnut-chocolate cream into a piping bag, cut off the very tip of the bag and pipe a few layers in a nice pattern over the whipped cream. Cover with plastic wrap and chill for 2 to 6 hours.
Buying fair trade chocolate — in the form of gelt, or even sufganiyot — makes particular sense on Hanukkah, when we celebrate freedom from tyranny. Photo courtesy of Ilana Schatz.
When I first learned about the issue of trafficked child labor in cocoa fields, I immediately thought of the gelt that I’ve eaten every Hanukkah since I was a young girl. The sweetness of its taste in my mouth while playing dreidel is deeply embedded in my memory.
But now I had been introduced to its true bittersweet character.
Today, young children are trafficked and forced into working on cocoa farms in the Ivory Coast, where more than half the world’s cocoa is grown. Many have been kidnapped from surrounding countries and brought to the Ivory Coast against their will. They are forced to work long hours, often without pay, and receive no education. Their work involves hazardous chemicals and pesticides and dangerous machetes.
On Rosh Hashanah, we manifest the greeting, Shanah Tovah u’Metukah, “may it be a good and sweet year” through our apples dipped into honey, or the raisins added to our customary round challah, or our honey cake and taiglach (small donuts) we drown in honey. Nu, where’s the chocolate? Chocoholics have to wonder.
Since Israel’s Operation Protective Edge began I have taken a break from my almost daily social media posts about chocolate. I want to mourn the devastation of the war. I want to respect the sacrifices being made by those in the Israel Defense Forces, their families and the entire country. I want to honor the injuries and the loss of life throughout in the conflict. Chocolate seems frivolous during such tragic events.
ChocoChicken’s chocolate fried chicken and duckfat fries. // Twitter/KristieHang
Looking for a new way to eat all-American food on Independence Day? Try any of Adam Fleischman’s restaurants.
Who is he, you ask? Why, the founder of the famous Umami Burger, of course!
In 2009, Umami Burger was a single burger joint on La Brea Avenue, in Los Angeles. Since then, the chain has exploded to more than 20 locations in New York, Florida and California. After his first year in business, he had four restaurants that garnered him about 1 million dollars a month.
When Umami Burger opened in New York City, the line curved around the block.
Known for its gourmet burgers like the Truffle Burger, with house-made truffle cheese and glaze, the Hatch Burger, with four types of green chilies and house cheese, and the Umami Burger, with Parmesan crisp, shiitake mushrooms and house ketchup, Umami Burger has revolutionized burgers. “When I created the Umami burger, I wanted a forward-looking burger,” Fleischman said in an interview. “I wanted a burger that was global and that had all sorts of modern influences.”
(JTA) — I love all things that involve chocolate, sesame or taste like halva. Nevertheless I was skeptical when Soom Foods wanted to send me a jar of their Chocolate Sesame Butter. I have nutella already, and I like it just fine. But try it I did. And so did my two year old. Let me say: I am totally in love. It is rich, a little salty and I like to pretend its super healthful since sesame is supposedly so good for you.
I didn’t have a chance yet to bake it into anything yummy, but I am sure it would go great inside rugelach or make a fabulous frosting on cake. I did have time to try it out in a post-workout smoothie and it was divine. The result was a chocolatey, slightly savory smoothie that really satisfied my craving for a milk shake.
But perhaps our favorite way to eat it was right out of the jar on slices of apple or mini pretzels as an afternoon snack.
And now through June 30 Soom Foods is running a “From the Jar” contest to feature their fans’ photos eating the chocolate sesame spread straight from the jar. You can enter on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter by using the hashtag #fromthejar with a photo of yourself or someone you love eating Soom Chocolate Sesame Butter straight from the jar. So go ahead, get messy and have fun with those pics.
You can also check out Soom Foods’ full line of products and order straight from Amazon.
Chocolate Sesame Banana Smoothie
1 cup ice
1-2 Tbsp Soom Foods chocolate sesame spread
1/2 cup lowfat milk
1 scoop chocolate protein powder (optional)
Place all ingredients in a blender. Pulse until desired smoothness.
Serve cold with a straw.
New food crazes pop up every few months in Israel: chocolate-filled syringes, the cupcake, the kurtosh (a Hungarian cylinder shaped cake which comes in many flavors), and even the cronut made its debut in Tel Aviv this year. So it was only a matter of time until someone created a gimmicky dessert with Israeli sugar addicts in mind. Introducing: the Chocolate Shwarma.
The concept is simple: replace the rotating meat pole with a chocolate one. The chocolate is simply shaved off the pole the way shawarma meat is and put inside a crepe which stands in for pita.
Like any good shwarma sandwich in Israel, toppings are abundant at ChocoKebab in Jerusalem. Here you can choose from halva, marshmallows, chocolate chips and nuts. If you’re looking for a creamy base, you can add a schmear of maple syrup, whipped cream or even dulce de leche to the crepe.
There is definitely something appealing about creating a sweet version of a savory dish. Many have done it before, like Max Brenner’s Chocolate Pizza. But to be honest, the ChocoKebab is nothing more than a crepe, and crepes are not new around here. They have been sold in stands in almost every mall in Israel for years. So the only new thing about the chocolate shawarma the preparation and the packaging.
Although it “screams Israel”, the Choco-Kebab was not actually invented in the country: it was brought to the holy land by Oded Cohen, a newbie to the food industry who came across a similar concept during a trip to Sicily.
The first branch opened in Jerusalem a few months ago. Today, there are choco-shawarma stands in Hod HaSharon, Modi’in, and Ness Ziona. More branches are expected to open across the country, including in Tel Aviv.
But Israel’s love for ever-changing trends means they usually don’t last very long — the average life expectancy of a Tel Aviv bar is approximately one year. After that, they usually close, make a few upgrades in decoration and re-open under a new name. Only time will tell the fate of the Choco-shawarma, but be assured: chocolate and crepe connoisseurs will not be fooled.
I’ve started noticing hamentaschen showing up in local bakeries, and it made me wonder if one of the reasons we say “Purim Sameach/Happy Purim” is because we know that we’ll be eating lots of hamentaschen, the traditional Eastern-European Purim dessert. This joyous day celebrates the repeal of the death decree against the Jewish inhabitants of ancient Persia (“They tried to kill us, we won, let’s eat!”).
Consume a lot of alcohol on Purim. As the Talmud pushes, “A person is obligated to drink on Purim to confuse the difference between the phrases ‘cursed be Haman)’ and ‘blessed be Mordecai.’ Megillah (7b). That would be a lot of drinking and any number of intoxicants could fulfill this mitzvah. This year you may wish to consider delectable chocolate liqueurs.
Who knew there could be good chocolate Hanukkah gelt? I figured it had to be waxy and tasteless, left in its foil to decorate a festive table rather than my mouth. A lovely audience in New Jersey shared their favorite Jewish chocolate experiences with me recently and mentioned, among other things, chocolate covered matzah and chocolate macaroons. They did not mention gelt. When I noted that omission, one woman sharply retorted, “Chocolate gelt is sucky.”
And so it often is. Or has been.
Several companies sell gelt. My quality test sampled some, not all. My criteria for gelt goodness includes whether the product is fair trade, kosher, and/or organic. I also care about appearance and taste and quality.
The West Bank is often in the limelight making political headlines, not gastronomic ones. But hidden beneath political and religious agendas, are a small group of artisans turning out various boutique edibles.
Located only half an hour outside of Jerusalem, the Gush (short for Gush Etzion: settlement areas that were built after the 1967 war) is host to vineyards and endless fields of olive trees. Members of local communities are utilizing ingredients that are grown nearby to create and sell organic wine, small-batch ales and brined goods. Small coffee roasters are opening as are companies making hand-crafted chocolates.
While accessible by bus, the best way to get into Gush Etzion is with a car. You can easily eat your way through the “block.” Try to arrange ahead of time, as many of these businesses are small and require reservations.
I work for the largest Jewish environmental organization in the United States. The kind that has a written food values policy which outlines the steps we, as an organization, take to ensure that the food we serve to our guests, participants, and each other is kosher, ethical, healthy, delicious, and a conversation starter.
Why then, do I have a five-pound bag of Halloween chocolates in my desk drawer?
Because somewhere around 4pm, it’s time for chocolate. And I don’t mean the good-quality, fair trade, dark chocolate (I keep that hidden in a different drawer), I mean that sugary, processed, preservative-laden, “exactly what I wanted right now” chocolate.
This year make room for chocolate in your Sukkot celebration. Sukkot’s theme of openness symbolized by the leafy ceiling and flimsy walls tempts creative approaches to menus, decorations, and customs. Deuteronomy 16:14’s challenge “v’samachta b’chagecha” (to rejoice in the festival) could easily be fulfilled by layering chocolate onto the holiday’s menus. Sukkot’s custom of welcoming honored guests, known as ushpizin, (traditionally Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, Aaron, David; additionally more recently, Sarah, Rebecca, Rachel, Leah, Miriam, Abigail, Esther) into the Sukkah. What better way to honor a guest than to treat them to tantalizing chocolate concoctions.
It could also be fun to recall some of the earlier Jews with significant connections to chocolate by extending a symbolic Sukkah invitation of ushpizin to colonial American traders, retailers and manufacturers such as Aaron Lopez, Rebecca Gomez and Daniel Gomez. From the first of the Jewish chocolate makers ever, in Bayonne, France, include Abraham D’Andrade. Cite Jews who developed the navigational sciences of the 15th-16th centuries which in turn created the opportunity for European first contact with cocoa beans, such as Abraham Ben Samuel Zacuto.
One year ago I was sitting in an overly warm classroom at the University of California, Davis, at a workshop called “Chocolate: Our Dark Addiction,” which was part of the 2011 Hazon Food Conference. The session begins with the question, “What is good chocolate?” Hands shoot up and comments immediately start flying: “Texture”; “Mouth feel”; “Creaminess”; “Cacao percentage”; “Ratio of bitter to sweet; “Added ingredients like fruits and nuts”; “No fruits and nuts.” Etc.
I think about the word “good,” and then I raise my hand. “Chocolate that is produced without slave and child labor, by workers paid a fair wage?” I ask. I am a bit tentative, because I don’t want to sound like one of those holier-than-thou food-obsessed people who proclaim their ethical choices in a manner calculated to shame those around them . One of the two presenters pauses for a moment, smiles slightly, and says, “That’s what we’re going to talk about today: other meanings of ‘good’ as it pertains to chocolate.”
With Shavuot around the corner, I’m thinking about milk chocolate and Israel, where there are several unique local options. As Janna Gur, Editor of Israel’s Al Hashulchan–The Israeli Gastronomic Monthly explained to me in a phone conversation, Israelis love chocolate and have a distinct preference for milk chocolate. The history of these chocolates tells us something about the growing years of the country itself.
The Elite brand developed several favorites in the milky realm. M’kupelet, bars of thinly folded milk chocolate similar to the Flake Bar of Cadbury from 1920, have been produced by Elite since 1935. The fondly remembered Hayal-Hayelet, a fifty-gram milk chocolate bar, was sold to Israeli soldiers at subsidized prices at canteens. Chocolate eating in the Tzava, the Israeli army, provided, as one person described to me, another means to klitah or absorption into Israeli society for what he called “exotic populations, immigrant groups from Morocco, Yemen, Ethiopia.”
“In every generation a person is obligated to see him or herself as though he/she had personally been redeemed from Eqypt,” we read in the Haggadah during our Passover seders. In recalling our people’s experience in Egypt, we are urged to remember that we were once slaves. We tell the details of the story, act it out, and eat charoset, symbolizing the mortar with which our ancestors made bricks for the Egyptians — we attempt to “experience” what slavery felt like.
Though we may not be actual slaves ourselves today, our history moves us to ask “Where does slavery exist today?,” “Who is enslaved?,” “What is that slavery like?” Unfortunately, this is the issue with most chocolate in the world. The majority of all cocoa is grown in West Africa, where hundreds of thousands of children have been documented working in their cocoa fields. They spend long hours working in hazardous conditions, and losing their childhoods to bring us our favorite chocolate treats. The situation is particularly serious in the Ivory Coast (the source of about 50% of our cocoa), where the U. S. Department of State estimates that more than 109,000 children in Cote d’Ivoire’s cocoa industry work under “the worst forms of child labor,” and that some 10,000 are victims of human trafficking or enslavement. Those who labor as slaves also suffer frequent beatings and other cruel treatment.