Perhaps you grew up being told that Hanukkah celebrates the second-century victory of the Maccabean army and the miracle that one day’s worth of oil kept the Jerusalem temple menorah lit a full eight days. But do you know anything about Hanukkah desserts?
What you may not know is there is a yearly recurring Hanukkah miracle: The Jews can eat as many treats and fried foods as they want all eight days and not gain a single pound! At least, this is what my rabbi told me as he offered me another latke. Sounds like truth to me! I have faith. May you enjoy many Hanukkah miracles as you try out all the sweets in this Hanukkah dessert roundup.
Jelly doughnuts (sufganiyot)
Sufganiyot are the quintessential Israeli Hanukkah dessert. Walk into any makolet (grocery store) the month before Hanukkah, and you’ll find yourself greeted by piles of powdery fried doughnuts — some oozing with bright red jelly, others exploding with rich chocolate creams. In America, savory potato latkes are the more popular Hanukkah food. But who says only Israelis can enjoy these heavenly plush deserts? We like our sweets on this side of the ocean too! You can make fresh sufganiyot at home with this traditional recipe from Pretty. Simple. Sweet.
Sufganiyot are made with yeast dough, which means you’ll need to account for rising time: two hours, in this particular recipe. Get your dough started before you begin dinner preparations, and you’ll be ready to start shaping and frying your sweets after supper.
After you’ve fried your doughnuts, fill them up! Go with jelly if your heart yearns for traditional, but you could also try a white or chocolate cream or even caramel. For less mess and easier filling, try a syringe instead of using a pastry bag.
Hanukkah fritters with warm chocolate sauce
If you’re pining for fried dough treats, but you’re not ready to invest the hours it takes to make sufganiyot, consider these Hanukkah fritters with warm chocolate sauce from Tori Avey.
You’ve probably got all the ingredients you need to whip these up right now. The fritter ingredients are simple: flour, baking powder, egg, milk, and a pinch of salt. Fry them in grapeseed or peanut oil. When frying your fritters, be sure the oil isn’t so hot that the outside browns too quickly. You want each fritter to fry for at least three minutes for a crisp outside and baked inside.
Scoop your fried treat from the oil with a slotted spoon and sprinkle with powdered sugar. Done! You could eat them just like this or go for gold and made the chocolate sauce.
Rosewater, butter, and half-and-half make this chocolate-heaven drizzle a decadent treat. However, you’re not bound to those ingredients! The rosewater is completely optional. Also, if you want to go dairy-free, you can use non-dairy margarine instead of butter, and substitute alternative milk for the half-and-half. The thick and fatty portion from a can of coconut milk makes a nice substitute for half-and-half and will give your chocolate sauce a coconutty-edge too.
Not interested in making your own sauce? You can easily use store-bought hot fudge or warmed up honey.
Fritters are best eaten right away, while crisp and hot. Light your menorah, put on some Hanukkah tunes, and move the party into the kitchen for freshly fried fritter feasting.
Hanukkah peanut butter gelt cookies
Is there any kiss better than a peanut butter kiss cookie? How about instead of a kiss, you get a coin? A chocolate coin, that is. These Hanukkah gelt cookies from Mother Would Know take a classic winter holiday dessert and give it a Jewish twist.
Mother Would Know offers some helpful baking tips for making perfect peanut butter gelt cookies. For one, after rolling your peanut butter dough into one-inch balls, they recommend chilling the dough balls in the refrigerator for approximately 30 minutes. This prevents the cookies from spreading as they bake.
Another tip: Chill the gelt too. This way, when you gently press the chocolate coins into your baked peanut butter balls, the gelt is less likely to melt or crack. Another tip to avoid melty-gelty issues: Choose bittersweet parve (non-dairy) gelt, instead of milk chocolate. Milk chocolate gelt are sweeter, but they are also more likely to liquefy on you.
Lemon olive oil ice cream
Oil is the star of many Hanukkah dishes due to the Hanukkah story: About 2,200 years ago, when the Maccabees entered the desecrated temple in Jerusalem, the holy menorah was unlit. Eager to light the sacred candelabra, priests searched for a sealed jar of oil. They found only one day’s worth of oil. But, a miracle occurred, and the oil lasted a full eight days.
Fried foods are the popular choice for acknowledging the miracle of the oil, but all that greasy fare can get heavy. This lemon olive oil ice cream recipe from West of the Loop is a refreshing lighter, cooler option.
You’ll need an ice cream maker for this lemon olive oil ice cream treat from West of the Loop. If you don’t own an ice cream maker, perhaps that could be a gift to yourself for Hanukkah night number one. Your gift to the rest of the family on night two will be this lemon olive oil ice cream. Everyone wins!
Homemade ice cream making is a process, but well worth it.
If you’re looking for a dessert that will visually wow the crowd, check out these beautiful Hanukkah haystacks from Bullock’s Buzz. The base — chow mein noodles and cocktail peanuts — provide the controlled-chaos look of the haystacks, along with a crunchy texture and slightly salty kick. A combination of Wilton white, royal blue, and bright blue chocolate melts showcase a Hanukkah color theme, and silver and white pearl sprinkles give the haystacks a glittery finish.
This fancy looking treat is actually super easy to make. Step one is to mix the chow mein and peanuts together in a bowl. Next, melt the royal blue chocolate melts in a double-boiler, allow to cool for a moment, and then pour over the chow mein and peanut mixture. Toss to coat. Then, using an ice cream scoop or large spoon, scoop piles of chocolate coated chow mein, peanut stacks and gently place on a parchment-lined baking sheet.
Now, melt the light blue chocolate melts in the microwave. Allow to cool slightly and drizzle over your dark blue haystacks. Sprinkle on some blue and white pearl sprinkles while the chocolate is still wet and sticky.
Next, melt the white chocolate melts in the microwave. Again, allow to cool slightly, and then drizzle white, lacy patterns over your haystacks. Sprinkle silver pearls on top.
Chill for about 20 minutes, and you’re done!
Hanukkah gelt cake
If you like chocolate with your chocolate, you will love this cake. This Hanukkah gelt cake from Kitchen Tested is another dessert that’s olive oil inspired — without the frying. Another plus: The batter is vegan! This means, if you choose parve (non-dairy) gelt, the entire recipe is dairy and egg free.
Gelt is the Yiddish word for coin. Hanukkah gelt are chocolate coin candies, individually wrapped in gold or silver foil. They come in cute mesh bags, and you can find them in the kosher section of your grocery store. You can also buy them by the boxful online. Sometimes, kids and adults “gamble” with the coins during a game of spin the dreidel.
You need a cup’s worth of chopped chocolate gelt for this recipe, which is about 36 large coins. That’s a lot of foil unwrapping! Enlist your children’s help — though you might want to do a coin count before and after… and buy more than the 36 you need. There’s no way there won’t be chocolate-coin losses. (Plus, you need to “pay” the kids for their efforts.)
You’ve likely got all the ingredients for the batter on hand: flour, unsweetened cocoa powder, oil, white and brown sugar, salt, vanilla extract, apple cider vinegar (or white vinegar), water, and brewed coffee.
Sift your dry ingredients together in one bowl, and mix the wet ingredients in another bowl. Combine the wet and dry together, stir, and pour the batter into a bundt pan. Next, press chopped gelt into the batter in your bundt pan, and bake for almost an hour.
Next, it’s time to make the ganache topping. You can use chocolate chips or more gelt. To keep the recipe dairy-free, use dairy-free whipping cream. Warm the whipping cream in the microwave, and then add the chocolate and a pinch of salt. Whisk until smooth.
Pour the ganache over your cake, and garnish with even more chopped gelt. Chocolate Hanukkah heaven.