Food-wise, the Chanukah holiday is mostly about oil: fried latkes, deep-fried doughnuts, even olive oil cookies. But there comes a time when you have to steer off the beaten path and for me, that was the moment when I dreamed up these Chanukah Gelt Cookies.
Chanukah gelt (Yiddish for money) are chocolate coins wrapped in gold or silver foil. When I was a kid, we used gelt to play the traditional Chanukah dreidel game. Depending on which side the top known as a driedel lands on, a player received gelt, gave up gelt to the pot in the center or did nothing. Of course, we often found that the pot of chocolate coins we played with seemed to get smaller as players would sneak one or two for a snack.
These Chanukah Gelt cookies are a take-off on the peanut butter cookies with Hershey’s kisses in the middle – a childhood holiday favorite of mine. Using gelt in the middle instead of a chocolate kiss turns them into a double favorite and a great way to use leftover Chanukah gelt.
This post is, perhaps ironically, part of Christmas Week. Be sure to enter the Christmas Week Giveaway for one of three Amazon Gift Cards for $500, $250, and $50! Details and a description of the event are at the end of this post.
This recipe is what I would call a mash-up, inspired by several different traditional peanut butter blossom cookies, but not directly attributable to any one of them.
Creating the blossom dough is a straightforward three-step process. After mixing the sugars, butter, and peanut butter to create a light mixture, you add the liquids (the egg, milk and vanilla), then the dry ingredients. The dough is not too sticky and that makes rolling the dough balls simple. In order to keep the cookies relatively uniform one-inch balls, I measure the first few against a ruler. In choosing a peanut butter, use one that has enough oil to make it easily spreadable, not gritty.
Normally I use a “serious” ruler, but I couldn’t resist using my cute Hebrew alphabet ruler for this tast.
Two steps keep the cookies rounded. The first is a tip that I learned from The Kitchn, one of my favorite sites for home cooking tips. I specify both baking powder as well as baking soda. That helps lift the batter. The second is to chill the dough balls for 30 minutes before baking them. Chilled dough doesn’t spread during baking as much as it would at room temperature.
After baking the cookies, you simply put them on a rack, let them set for a minute or so (or a bit longer if you’re using milk chocolate gelt), then insert a piece of gelt in the middle.
If your gelt is small, use a full one. For larger coins, split them in half and insert the cut side into the cookie. Unlike a Hershey’s Kiss, which is thick on the bottom, the gelt is fairly thin. This means that you might get a few large coins that splinter instead of cut and a few cookies where the gelt melts too much and falls over. What a tragedy! You just might have to eat the splintered coins and the less-than-beautiful cookies before presenting the finished cookies to your adoring family and friends.
The Chanukah gelt I’m familiar with is either milk chocolate or bittersweet. The milk chocolate version is softer. That has an advantage, in that the coins cut more easily. However, the softness also makes the coins more prone to melting when you press them into baked cookies. (Remember the Holiday Triple Chocolate Bark?) When I told my husband about the melting coins problem, he suggested chilling them before pressing them into the freshly baked, warm cookies. How creative! I rewarded him with an extra couple of cookies – the melted coin ones I didn’t need for photos of course. Another way to work with the milk chocolate gelt is to wait slightly longer (so the cookie is warm, not hot) before pressing the coin into it. Just don’t let the cookie cool down completely or you won’t be able to press in the gelt.
Taste-wise, I prefer bittersweet and ideally, I would use all small bittersweet gelt in these Chanukah Gelt Cookies. But when I got gelt this year, it was a mixture and not of uniform size. Oh well.
Chanukah Gelt Cookies
- 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
- 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt Kosher or fine sea
- 1 egg
- 2 tablespoons milk full, low-fat or nonfat
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1/2 + 1/4 for rolling dough balls in cup white sugar
- 1/3 cup dark brown sugar packed
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter at room temperature, 1 stick
- 3/4 cup good quality creamy peanut butter (spreadable, not gritty), at room temperature
- Whisk the dry ingredients (flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt) together in a small bowl and set aside.
- Mix the egg, milk, and vanilla together in another small bowl and set aside.
- Combine the 1/2 cup of white sugar, the brown sugar, the butter and peanut butter and beat with a hand or stand mixer until the mixture is light and fluffy. Start on a low setting and move up to medium-high, scraping the bowl 2-3 times during 3-5 minutes.
- Add the egg, milk, and vanilla mixture and combine.
- Add the dry ingredients in 3-4 batches, mixing on low each time, just until combined.
- Form the dough into one-inch balls and roll them in the reserved 1/4 cup sugar. Put all the balls on a plate and chill in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes.
- Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees F. and unwrap the Chanukah gelt. If the coins are more than one-inch in circumference, cut them in half. Put the unwrapped coins in the refrigerator to chill until you need them.
- Place the cookie balls on two parchment or silicone mat-lined cookie sheets. Bake the cookies for 8-10 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through.
- Once the cookies are done, put them on wire racks. Let them cool for one minute then insert the coins, one or one-half into each cookie. Cool completely.
The preparation time does not include the 30 minutes for chilling the dough balls.
Bittersweet chocolate coins are more difficult to cut than milk chocolate ones, but they do not melt as easily when inserted into the cookies.
Welcome to Day 3 of Christmas Week. This annual event, started in 2012, is hosted by Kim of Cravings of a Lunatic. This year we have over 35 bloggers sharing festive sweet recipes for the event. Plus we all chipped in for a huge Amazon Gift Card Giveaway so be sure to enter!
Christmas Week Amazon Gift Card Giveaway is open to U.S. and Canada. Giveaway will run from December 7, 2015 to December 26, 2015. Winners must be 18 years of age. Winners will be notified by email. Winners will be asked a skill testing question.
Recipes from Day 4 of Christmas Week! Please visit all our talented participants:
Pistachio Roca from Cravings of a Lunatic
Slow Cooker Eggnog Granola from Cupcakes and Kale Chips
Hot Cocoa Brownies from Crumb: A Food Blog
Soft Coconut Chocolate Chip Cookies from Food Done Light
Cranberry Chai Tea Cookies from Farm Fresh Feasts
Chanukah Gelt Cookies from Mother Would Know
Peppermint Pinwheel Cookies from Food Lust People Love
Rocky Road Fudge by My Catholic Kitchen
Best Sugar Cookies from That Skinny Chick Can Bake
Salted Caramel Chocolate Thumbprints from Mind Over Batter
Gingerbread Chocolate Sandwich Cookies from Lauren Kelly Nutrition
Habanero Orange Marmalade from Everyday Southwest
Upside Down Sticky Apple Pie from From Gate to Plate
Homemade Instant Hot Cocoa Mix from Flour on my Face
Chocolate Raspberry Walnut Rugelach from The Little Ferraro Kitchen
S’mores Hot Chocolate from Hezzi-D’s Books and Cooks