Every year as a kid, I counted down to our synagogue’s Hanukkah shindig, where I’d gorge on sufganiyot and latkes (that’s jelly donuts and potato pancakes for you goys out there). But Hanukkah lasts eight days. On the other days we’d hang out at home and play the dreidel game, with the winner getting a big handful of Hanukkah gelt.
But even a glutton like me couldn’t be tricked by gelt. The chocolate coins wrapped in gold foil look like a prize, but bite into one and you’re more likely to taste wax or plastic than anything resembling candy. That’s why we eventually switched to raisins. Raisins! How pathetic.
In other words, for years, we Jews have sighed and taken our gelt with a grimace. Until now. Fortunately for everyone with taste buds, many high-end chocolatiers have started making artisanal gelt that will make you come back for seconds and even thirds. Here are the seven best gelts for the gourmet, just in time for Hanukkah:
This Chicago-based chocolatier turns out multiple flavors using high-quality Guittard chocolate: dark chocolate with sea salt, dark chocolate with cacao nibs and good old milk chocolate (plain or with nibs). The coins come unwrapped, which is a bit odd. But Veruca more than makes up for the lack of foil by embossing the gold and silver airbrushed chocolate with the design of Judean coins from 40 BC, with a menorah and a Greek inscription. $15 per box of 18; verucachocolates.com
This fair-trade-certified chocolate maker is co-owned by the Kuapa Kokoo cocoa farmers in Ghana. That makes it a little different than the others on this list, who buy finished chocolate from other companies and then melt it down into their own bars and candies. Try the kosher milk or dark chocolate coins wrapped in silver for the ultimate treat, with profits supporting nonprofits Fair Trade Judaica and T’ruah. $3.49 for a 1.75-ounce bag, $31.90 for 10 bags, and $89.70 for 30 bags; divinechocolateusa.com
This historic New York chocolatier, dating back to 1923, makes kosher milk chocolate coins wrapped in Italian foil and stamped with traditional Hanukkah designs, including images of the Star of David, dreidel and menorah. $28 for a one-pound box; li-lacchocolates.com
Lake Champlain Chocolates
This ultimate Hanukkah gift comes in a festive blue box filled with 13 kosher milk chocolate coins, each wrapped in silver foil and embossed with the Lake Champlain logo. They look less traditional than other options, but the box tips the scales in this Vermont-based company’s favor. $9 per box of 13; lakechamplainchocolates.com
Debauve & Gallais
OK, so these gold coins aren’t just for Hanukkah, but they’ll sure do the trick — if you have a pretty penny to spend. The French company has been around since the 1800s, and supposedly they developed this line of pistoles for Marie Antoinette to “ease her distaste for taking medicines.” The high-end chocolate wafers with gold on the front will melt in your mouth. $200 per 1.7-pound box; debauveandgallais.com
Mama Ganache Artisan Chocolates
If you’re looking for organic, fair trade–certified gelt, this California-based company is the way to go. Try 70 percent dark chocolate or traditional milk chocolate, individually wrapped in gold or silver foil, embossed with doves flying over sunrays. $8.50 per bag of 15; mama-ganache.com
This Pennsylvania-based company has been around since 1884, and you can even visit their Candy Americana Museum and Candy Store in Lititz. Or skip the history and order the milk chocolate coins wrapped in gold foil and embossed with the company logo. $8.99 for a half-pound bag; wilburbuds.com
Megan Giller covers the world of American craft chocolate on her blog Chocolate Noise.