The first day of Hanukkah spells Hanukkah desserts. Join us as we look at the Jewish tradition of Hanukkah and consider the dessert options available to us over the next eight days. If this is your first Hanukkah, we’ll begin with the origins. Then we’ll jump straight into desserts and all the local Jewish bakeries that are open near you.
As mentioned, Hanukkah is a holiday that lasts eight days based on the Jewish lunar calendar. Why eight days of celebrations? The Jewish people are celebrating a miracle that happened in 168 BC. Antiochus IV Epiphanes, the Greek-Syrian king, ordered to desecrate the Jewish temple in Jerusalem, breaking and demolishing everything. At that time, electricity was yet to be invented. So after the assault, there was no olive oil left to light the candles of the hanukiah (or chanukkiyah), the candlelight with 9 candle placeholders. It is believed that after the victory, there was only enough oil to keep the lamp burning for one day.
Miraculously, the temple candle continued to burn for eight days, the time it took them to produce new olive oil. We see the hanukiah holds nine candles, the ninth being the shammash servant candle which is used to light the other eight candles. That is why we know it as the Festival of Lights.
Pendant la Hanoukka, l'accent est mis sur les différents repas frits dans l'huile. Cela signifie qu'il y a beaucoup de crème ou de beignets sufganiyot fourrés à la confiture. Il s'agit d'un type de pâte frite semblable à un beignet, made from sweet yeast dough. Bakers fill them with plain red jelly (usually strawberry or sometimes raspberry), and top them with sugar. In this day and age, we’re lucky to find them with extra fillings like vanilla or chocolate cream, and caramel. Sometimes people will even fill them with dulce de leche or coffee!
Jewish Italians typically celebrate with cassola, a fried sweet ricotta pancake. Some call it the original latke, but it tastes very similar to cheesecake. As a side note, most latkes today are made from potatoes. Fritelle di riso is another of the Hanukkah desserts from Italy. It’s a sweet rice fritter that generally includes flavours of rum, cinnamon, and orange. These fritters sometimes include raisins too. Another fritter-type dessert that’s more readily available are bimuelos with honey, which originated in Spain. You can still find them under the name buñuelo. For more inspiration plus italienne , nous vous recommandons ce type de dessert. Les juifs indiens apprécient le gulab jamunune boule de pâte similaire à base de lait qui est frite et trempée dans du sirop sucré avant d'être décorée d'amandes croquantes ou de noix de cajou.
Bien entendu, votre boulangerie juive locale will have a plethora of non-fried dessert options if you’ve had too many strawberry-jam sufganiyot or potato latkes. There’s the fruity Shabbat cake or mandelbrot. The latter is a biscotti type biscuit. Don’t confuse it with the Polish-born French-American mathematician! But you can always stick to shortbread cookies, if in doubt.
We’re special fans of the rugelach, a crescent shaped pastry similar to cinnamon crescents. But these can have chocolate, jam, fruit, and poppy seeds as fillings too. While there are pareve versions, some make their rugelach with sour cream or cream cheese in their doughs. For information on cinnamon crescents specifically, you can read our post « Où trouver les meilleurs croissants à la cannelle ? » You’ll learn about Pliny the Elder’s fantastic tale about the African cinnamon birds!
But back to Hanukkah, we can’t forget the babka, aka ‘little grandmother’. It is similar to the kokosh, which is more popular in Canadian Jewish bakeries. The sweet babka bread apparently gets its name from the traditional babka pan, which resembles a grandmother’s skirt. Others believe the name comes from grandmothers combining seeds with challah scraps. Whatever the origins, when you give us a slice studded in chocolate, we’ll eat it without question.
Pour obtenir une liste complète des desserts juives près de chez vous, nous vous avons préparé une liste pour les huit prochains jours et au-delà. Que ce soit un sufganiyot fourré à la confiture, un rugelach au chocolat et à la cannelle ou la fameuse babka au chocolat, profitez de vos desserts et de votre Sameach de Hanoukka !