Who knew that quality chocolate Chanukah gelt exists? I thought it had to be waxy and tasteless and that it best decorated a table rather than my mouth. Only recently, with the publication of Marjorie Ingall’s comprehensive piece “Gelt Without Guilt” in Tablet, (based largely on my book and her interview of me, yes I am proud), did I learn about the newer innovative, gelt options. Mark and I set out to taste test the ones she mentioned as part of our Chanukah festivities. Unfortunately, we did not manage any Israeli or kosher products this year though several companies sell them, including Lieber, Elite, Paskesz, Steenland and Foiled Again. Maybe next year.
Our criteria for testing the gelt goodies included whether the product is fair trade, kosher, and/or organic. Appearance, taste and quality could be even more important. Here is our eighth night gift for you:
We liked the Divine dark coins which are not Chanukah specific in decoration, nor certified organic. They are tasty enough, certified Fair Trade and Kosher Triangle K. Milk chocolate coins are also available.
Mama Ganache Artisan Chocolates silver tinned foil sports an indistinguishable image, seemingly not Chanukah related, with a very homemade feel. They claim a company philosophy of “Do No Harm to the Earth or the farmers who supply our cocoa” and produce chocolates that are 100% organic and Fair Trade. These are not kosher. We would say, meh, generally preferring a more tempered texture.
Our favorite for appearance and for taste were the Chanukah coins made by Heather Johnston at Veruca in Chicago. Heather uses, as she puts it: “E. Guittard and Caillebaut [sic], both for their flavors and their commitment to fair trade practices” and when possible, organic and local ingredients. Her festive coins, gold dusted dark or milk chocolate, replicate an ancient Maccabean coin embossed with the menorah from the Temple in Jerusalem. We savored the dark with cocoa nibs; other high end chocolate options mix in sea salt or espresso.
And, thinking about getting good gelt, keep in mind that a partnership endeavor of Hazon, Ilana Schatz, my CCAR colleague Oren Hayon and others published a curriculum about worker justice and gelt called Spinning the Dreidel for Chocolate Gelt and supported the Fair Trade Chocolate Gelt campaign. General learnings about chocolate and Jewish values as well as about the background of gelt may be found in On the Chocolate Trail. See the bonus materials for lesson plans for teaching about chocolate and Jews/Jewish values/customs/history, and of course, gelt.
And which chocolate gelt do you think is good?