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Eight Nights of Hanukkah Chocolate

A friend of mine described tasting some chocolate as "more" - as in, each bite makes him want more chocolate. That is how I think about Hanukkah: It creates more opportunities for chocolate! Here are eight ideas to add more chocolate to each night's celebration of Hanukkah.

On the first night of Hanukkah, sing Woody Guthrie's "Hanukah Gelt" song. Woody Guthrie wrote the lyrics for a number of celebratory Hanukkah songs collected as "Happy Joyous Hannukah" by the Klezmatics in 2006. Guthrie came to know Coney Island's Jewish Community through his mother-in-law, the Yiddish poet Aliza Greenblatt, when he moved to Brooklyn in 1942. These songs were discovered in 1998 by his daughter, Nora Guthrie, who then requested that the Klezmatics record them. Check out Woody Guthrie's freilach "Hanukkah Gelt" (and, if you'd like, read the lyrics).

On the second night of Hanukkah, bake peanut butter Hanukkah gelt cookies. Meld Thanksgiving with Hanukkah's second night by enjoying two native American foods, peanuts and chocolate. This easy treat maintains the shape of the chocolate gelt on top of the peanut butter cookie. Here is the quick recipe:

1 cup peanut butter (crunchy or smooth)
1 cup sugar
1 egg
Approximately 36 chocolate Hanukkah gelt coins

Beat the peanut butter, sugar and egg together. Shape cookies in rounds with flat tops to the size of the gelt. Bake on buttered cookie pan at 350º for about twelve minutes. While warm but somewhat cooled from the oven, gently press one piece of gelt on each cookie. Cool.

On the third night of Hanukkah, compare gelt samples. Run a taste-test of several different chocolate gelt options. Rate the quality of the taste, the crunch, and the social justice aspects of the chocolate. Is it a kosher product? Fair trade? Is the chocolate milk or dark? Are there other unusual ingredient add-ins? Is it organic chocolate? Is the company concerned with green packaging? Consider including companies such as Elite, Steenland, Foiled Again, Divine, Veruca Chocolates, Mama Ganache Artisan Chocolates, and any others you may find.

On the fourth night of Hanukkah, discuss child slavery in some chocolate-growing countries. As Hanukkah nights deepen into winter, take in some knowledge about the tragedy of child slavery and labor in chocolate growing countries such as Ghana and Ivory Coast. Watch one or more of the following videos:

On the fifth night of Hanukkah, explore fair trade Hanukkah gelt. When celebrating Hanukkah's messages of liberation from tyranny, learn about fair trade chocolate and make a commitment to fair trade Hanukkah gelt. Consider how the Hanukkah values apply to our selection of gelt. Use very readable and accessible materials available online at Spinning the Dreidel for Chocolate Gelt and Fair Trade Judaica.

On the sixth night of Hanukkah, rap with gelt. Check out "Chocolate Coins," Eric Schwartz's music video about Hanukkah gelt to tack onto your candle lighting for the sixth night. Maybe you will also create your own rap or video!

On the seventh night of Hanukkah, try chocolate latkes. Here's another opportunity to combine New World foods - specifically potatoes and chocolate. Try sprinkling cocoa nibs, chocolate shavings or chocolate chips on your latkes; drizzle some chocolate sauce over them; or mix cocoa nibs into the latke batter and then fry. Here's our favorite basic latke recipe to get you started.

On the eighth night of Hanukkah, make your own chocolate gelt. Round off Hanukkah week by crafting homemade gelt using your favorite chocolate. Try whipping up this recipe for chocolate "truffle" gelt or use these suggestions for doing it yourself.

Happy chocolatey Hanukkah!

Rabbi Deborah R. Prinz is the author of On the Chocolate Trail: A Delicious Adventure Connecting Jews, Religions, History, Travel, Rituals and Recipes to the Magic of Cacao (Jewish Lights). Used in adult study, school settings, book clubs and chocolate tastings, it also contains delicious recipes. Rabbi Prinz speaks frequently on the subject of chocolate and religions around the country at scholar-in-residence or lecture opportunities. She writes at The Huffington Post, The Jew and the Carrot, The Jewish Journal, and on her blog, Jews on the Chocolate Trail.