Tart and sweet come together in this Thanksgivingukkah mashup.
There’s another Hanukkah miracle of sorts to contemplate this year. In 2013, for the first time, and not again for several thousands of years, Hanukkah converges with Thanksgiving.
Actually, if you look a little closer, it’s not that simple. As we are the people of the book, I did some reading. Here’s what I found: Because Jewish holidays begin at sunset, the first night of Hanukkah falls on Wednesday, just before Thanksgiving. Given that, we only have to wait until 2070, when the first night of Hanukkah falls precisely the evening of Thanksgiving.
There’s more to this, of course, having to do with the Jewish calendar and political questions such as when Thanksgiving day was once celebrated: the last Thursday as opposed to the 4th Thursday in November. A reversion to that custom would throw off the whole equation.
All that Talmudic-type study will make for terrific conversation over turkey. But what’s really important is that we have this very festive occasion to celebrate, and to me, it seems fitting to combine Hanukkah and Thanksgiving.
Most importantly, it takes the focus off the gifts and puts it on the gratitude. As Jews, we give thanks that the Maccabees fought for our religious freedom thousands of years ago. As Americans, we give thanks that we live as equals and are free to worship as we choose.
Someone, somewhere came up with the name Thanksgivvukah for this holiday and that’s fine with me. But it’s not a Jewish holiday if there’s no special food for it, and we’ve never had Thanksgivukkah before. So it’s up to us to invent some appropriate goodies to eat.
Now, when I was a kid we didn’t get eight days of gifts. We got money, gelt. I remember my fetter coming over and handing us coins and for my older brother, a dollar bill, which was a fortune for both giver and getter.
I don’t remember when the real gelt became chocolate. But my children and grandchildren think the foil-wrapped candy is the real thing. And in our family we do give gifts and gelt. The chocolate kind.
So I went with that, and created these Cranberry-Gelt Truffles. Everyone loves chocolate of course, but I like to think of these as a delicious way to give thanks for lots of things, including Thanksgivingukkah, using Jewish Hanukkah gelt and those wonderful red berries that are indigenous to America.
Truffles take time and can be messy. Don’t hurry things. The ganache, or chocolate base, needs to be cold enough to work with. It’s smart to wear disposable gloves because some of the chocolate could melt in your hands.
You can use actual dark chocolate coins or the dark chocolate of your choice, to make it easier and save the bother of unwrapping so many pieces of candy. If you do use candy coins, make sure to weight them and don't use milk chocolate. It cooks differently and it’s more complicated for home cooks to use.
Please don’t be concerned that the truffles are not perfectly round and same-size. They’re supposed to look like the odd-shaped fungi they’re named for!
Chocolate truffles are perishable. Keep them in the refrigerator until serving time.
Ronnie Fein is a cookbook author and cooking teacher in Stamford. Her latest book is Hip Kosher. Visit her food blog, Kitchen Vignettes, at www.ronniefein.com for more Thanksgivingukkah recipes, like sweet latkes with cranberries, and follow her on Twitter at @RonnieVFein.
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