The origin of gelt -- a token gift of coins for Hanukkah -- isn't entirely clear, but somewhere along the line, the popularity of chocolate gelt superseded that of actual currency. In any case, until recently, gelt was more of a dreidel game accessory than something you'd actually want to eat. But now there are some seriously delicious contenders out there that give the old school foil-wrapped stuff a run for its money. Here are some of my top picks:
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Artisanal: Veruca Chocolates Gelt for Grownups®
If ever chocolate could help bring the Hanukkah story to life, it's the gorgeous gelt from Veruca Chocolates. Burnished in edible gold and silver dust, the chocolate discs are modeled on an actual ancient Judean coin circa 40 B.C.E., that likely circulated during the reign of Antigonus II Mattathias, a High Priest, the last Hasmonean king -- and a descendent of the Maccabees. Use them in this recipe for Hanukkah Gelt Thumbprints for gorgeously giftable cookies.
Veruca's handcrafted Gelt... for Grownups® is available in Dark Chocolate with Sea Salt, Dark Chocolate with Cocoa Nibs, and Milk Chocolate. CRC-certified Kosher Dairy. Buy online at VerucaChocolates.com; Price: $7.50 to $42.
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Fair Trade: Divine Chocolate Milk and Dark Chocolate Coins
Unfortunately, the mainstream chocolate industry is rife with worker injustices, including the devastating utilization of child slave labor. Seeking out Fair Trade chocolate helps ensure that workers are paid fair living wages, and promotes safe working conditions, sustainable production, and community development.
Divine Chocolate goes a step further -- it is co-owned by the farmers of Ghana's Kuapa Kokoo cooperative, from which it sources its chocolate. The foil-wrapped Milk and Dark... Chocolate Coins are certified OU Kosher Dairy. Buy online at DivineChocolateUSA.com; Price: $3.49 to $89.70.
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Nut-Free Hanukkah Gelt
If allergies are a concern, Amazon.com carries several options for kosher, nut-free Hanukkah gelt; the Paskesz brand is one of the few that offers a pareve (dairy-free) version, and it's made in Belgium, where they know a thing or two about quality chocolate. Kosher certifications vary depending on brand and seller, and some options are eligible for Amazon Prime shipping. Buy online at Amazon.com. Price: From $18.95/case of 24 sacks.
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Enough for Everyone: Lake Champlain Chocolate Coins
If a serious dreidel tournament is the highlight of your Hanukkah celebration, then Lake Champlain Chocolate's Coin Gift Jar is ideal for filling the pot. With about 60 foil-wrapped coins in milk, dark, and dark chocolate mint crunch flavors, there's plenty to go around for gaming and snacking. Don't need quite so much gelt? A small, Hanukkah motif-decorated gift box of milk chocolate coins is available, too. Star-K Kosher Dairy. Buy online at LakeChamplainChocolates.com; Price: $13....50 to $70.Continue to 5 of 5 below.
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