Shanah Tovah u’Metukah! But, Where’s the Chocolate?
A serious chocolate lover has to wonder why Judaism today has neither serious ritual celebrations nor customs using good chocolate, especially at Rosh Hashanah when we emphasize the sweetness we anticipate and long for in the coming New Year. On Rosh Hashanah, we greet each other with the phrase, Shanah Tovah u’Metukah! “a good and sweet year.” We taste this sweetness through the apples and honey we eat, or through the raisins we add to the customary round challah or through the honey cake we bake or through the taiglach (small donuts) we drown in honey. But, where’s the chocolate?
Chocolate, quality dark chocolate, could so easily be part of the sweetness celebrated at the Jewish New Year. After all, chocolate induces a spiritual state that might open us to the meditative, contemplative and introspective mood we seek at the High Holydays. As the manager of a fancy French chocolate store in Manhattan confessed to me, she has a metaphysical response to eating an intense 99% cocoa French chocolate just before she studies from the mystical text known as the Zohar.
How about some chocolate possibilities? Chocolate truffles, their roundness recalling the cycle of the year? Or, the traditional round challah totally coated in chocolate? Or, a round raisin challah with chocolate spread? Or, a round challah baked with chocolate chips? Or, chocolate covered candied apples? Or, chocolate filled taiglach ? Or, honey cake with chocolate chips. Or, apples dipped in chocolate sauce? Or, challah and apples in chocolate fondue? Perhaps you will enjoy these exciting possibilities this Rosh Hashanah.
Surprisingly, chocolate and Yom Kippur share some history. In the 17th century, in the early days of the European use of chocolate in Spain and in New Spain, the then popular chocolate beverage accompanied meals preceding and following the surreptitious Yom Kippur fast observed by New Christians. For instance, in 1645 Gabriel de Grenada and his family ate fish, eggs vegetables, and drank chocolate on Erev Yom Kippur in New Spain. Isabel Rodriguez of Toledo, an eighty-year-old illiterate conversa, broke her Yom Kippur fast with trout, fruit, chickpea stew, olives, fritters with honey and chocolate with biscuits, according to 1667 Inquisition records. Testifying to the Inquisition of October 7, 1642, Isabel de Rivera, recalled that on the night before the día grande of Yom Kippur, Doña Juana had sent “thick chocolate and sweet things made in her house.”
The sweet potential for chocolate at Rosh Hashanah coupled with this history of chocolate at Yom Kippur bode well for this New Year. May it be a chocolaty 5769!
Cross posted at The Jewish Magazine September, 2009.
Zooming for Challah
Thank you to The Jewish Week’s Food and Wine for running my story, “Zooming for Challah.” The internet has been popping with real-time challah baking sessions since shelter in place began. These free pre-Shabbat meet ups nourish a hunger for recipes, relief, rituals, and relationships. Despite nationwide yeast and flour shortages, longtime bakers and novicesRead more ›
Celebrate the First Shabbat After Passover with a Shlissel Challah
Hasidic communities mark the first Shabbat after Passover with a special challah as they transition back to the world of chametz. They shape the first post-Passover Shabbat challah into a key. The key, or shlissel as it is called in Yiddish, is meant to symbolize openings, passageways, and transition. Rabbi Pinchas Shapiro of Kovitz (b.Read more ›
Atayef: Double Fried Filled Pancakes for Chanukah
Aka Ataïf, atayif, qata’if, qatayif, katayef, these pancakes may be filled with nuts or also prepared with cheese fillings for Chanukah or Shavuot. They are also popular at weddings spread with cream and rose petal jam or simply topped with pistachios or almonds. This recipe guides you through a nut stuffed option. Read my storyRead more ›
Panettone for Breakfast?
While we tend to think of panettone as a Christmas bread, Jewish food writer Edda Servi Machlin shared this version of panettone from her childhood experiences in Italy of eating it for breakfast. She provides an authentic yet simpler process than most panettone recipes and a very tasty one at that. Enjoy it whenever youRead more ›
Some Previous Posts
(in alphabetical order)
- Ambasha (aka Himbasha, Hambasha) Ethiopian Wedding Bread
- Boulou: North African Orange Bread
- Challah Dough for Shaping
- Cheese Babka Recipe
- Chocolate Chip Cookie Chronicles: Inventions & Elections
- Kaak: Recipe for Crunchy Yeast Biscuits
- Lachuch (aka Lahoh or Lahuh): A Yemenite Flatbread for Shabbat
- Los Siete Cielos or Seven Heaven Challah Recipe
- Other Wedding Bread Customs
- Pan de Calabaza: Pumpkin Challah
- Panettone for Breakfast?
- Recipe for Dabo: Ethiopian Pan Cooked Shabbat Bread
- Recipe for Fancy Shapes in Dough: Shaping Dough
- Saluf (aka Salouf or Saloof): Recipe for a Yemenite Flatbread for Shabbat
- Seeking A Shikker Challah
- What is the Chocolate Babka Project?
- What's a Key (shlissel) Challah?
- What? No Babka at Catskills Hotels? *
- Yeast Raised Khachapuri Recipe
- Yemarina Yewotet Dabo: Ethiopian Honey Bread