I am not crazy about fried food. The traditional latkes and sufganiyot of Hanukkah do not make my heart go aflutter. Chocolate, however, is a totally different matter.
When Hanukkah rolls around, for me it is all about the gelt. I’m not talking about the store-bought, foil-wrapped coins that taste more like wax than chocolate. I’m talking about my mother’s homemade Hanukkah gelt. The recipe originally came from my Jewish preschool (thanks, Bet Yeladim!) and I looked forward to it every year growing up. Now I make it for my friends, my kids, and every Hanukkah party because it is so easy to make and such a crowd-pleaser.
The tradition of giving gelt, Yiddish for “coins,” at Hanukkah has been a part of Jewish practice for many hundreds of years. Originally, it was money given to children who would pass it on as an end-of-year gift to their teachers. The tradition might also be connected to the idea that after the Maccabees won back Jerusalem, they had new coins minted. The idea that Hanukkah gelt would be made out of chocolate is more recent, though no one quite knows when or how this tradition started.
Best of all, this recipe is insanely easy. All you need to do is dump your ingredients into a microwave-safe bowl, nuke them for a minute or two, stir, spread, and refrigerate to set. The result tastes exactly like fudge.
Note: if you want the gelt to look like coins, you can cut your fudge into circles using a small, round cookie-cutter and then wrap individually in aluminum foil. But if you are not committed to the money connection or just don’t have the time — as I often don’t — you can just slice them into rectangles and store in an air-tight container in the fridge.
- 3 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
- 14 oz can sweetened condensed milk
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/4 tsp salt
- Combine ingredients in a microwave-safe bowl and heat in the microwave for 1 minute, then stir. Even if the chocolate chips don’t appear melted, they might combine beautifully. If more time is required, continue heating in the microwave in increments of 10 seconds.
- Spread into a baking tray that has been sprayed with oil or lined with parchment or waxed paper.
- Refrigerate for 1/2 hour.
- Cut fudge into desired shapes and wrap in foil.
- Make sure to store in the refrigerator because it becomes a bit soft at room temperature.