Kosher Kitchen

Gifts from oven make tasty Chanukah treats


Chanukah is a wonderful time of year to have company and trade recipes for latkes and more. While I loved making sufganiyot every year, I now prefer experimenting with latkes and veggies and more. Cheese also plays a big part in this holiday, so I always try to incorporate cheese into some latke recipe.

We have also developed a tradition of having homemade spanakopita (Greek spinach pie) on Chanukah to acknowledge the cheese Judith used in her ploy.

The beautiful Festival of Lights is also a great time to make some gifts from your kitchen and decorate them for friends. A package of homemade cookies or brownies is often so appreciated by the recipient and the gift has several advantages: One size fits all; you never have to worry about finding the right color or model, and the gift will never be returned.

Yes, gifts from the home DO take a bit of time, but you can streamline and create up to 12 gifts with maybe three or four recipes. If you engage your children to help, it can be a fun family project — from baking, to decorating the gift packages, to delivering them.

Chanukah is a wonderful, happy time for children and families and it is a special time to gather together, light the candles, sing songs and enjoy company and fun. Simple gifts from the kitchen can help the budget and can teach children that it is often more fun to make and give gifts than it is to receive them. Well, almost more fun!

Have a wonderful Chanukah!

Crunchy Granola (Pareve)

This recipe comes from the Singer Island Hilton Hotel in Florida where the Chef graciously gave me the recipe, which I have adapted below. I bought a very inexpensive food scale for this recipe and now use it all the time when baking. Liquid ingredients can be measured in a Pyrex measuring cup.

14.5 oz. rolled oats (not quick or instant)

4 oz. cashew or walnut pieces (about 1 generous cup)

2 oz. sliced almonds 

2 oz. sunflower seeds

7 oz. pumpkin seeds

1 oz. flax seeds

1 tsp. salt, scant

1 tsp. cinnamon

1/4 to 1/2 tsp. ground ginger

5.5 oz. of honey

3.5 oz. high oleic safflower oil

3 oz. dark brown sugar

1 to 1-1/2 oz. pure maple syrup grade B preferable

Optional: Any dried fruits you like; I love very small snips of dried apricots.

Note: Omit nuts and increase seeds for a nut-free treat.

Line three large, rimmed baking sheets with parchment. Set aside. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Mix all the dry ingredients in a large bowl. Place all the wet ingredients in another bowl and whisk until blended. Pour the wet over the dry ingredients and mix thoroughly.

Pour 1/3 of the mixture onto each pan and smooth into an even layer with your hands. Place in the oven for 35 to 45 minutes until golden.

Remove from the oven and let cool for about an hour to set. Break into pieces and store in a closed container in a cool place. Use with yogurt for breakfast or dessert, or as a school snack. If it gets a bit soggy, bake at 325 for about 10 minutes. Let cool again and break up the clumps.

Place in a plastic bag and tie tightly, removing as much air as possible. Makes 8 to 10 cups.

Chocolate Kiss Peanut Butter Cookies (Dairy)

45 chocolate kiss candies, unwrapped 

2-2/3 cups sifted unbleached flour

2 tsp. baking soda

1/4 tsp. salt

2 sticks butter, softened

2/3 cup creamy peanut butter (not all natural or the cookies will be too dry or oily)

1 cup granulated sugar

1 cup dark brown sugar

2 extra-large eggs

2 tsp. pure vanilla extract

1 cup, more as needed, Granulated sugar for rolling cookies dough

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Unwrap 45 kiss candies, your choice of plain, dark, almond, etc. Set aside.

Sift the flour and, baking soda and salt. Set aside. Place the softened butter and peanut butter in the bowl of an electric mixer and mix until creamy and well blended. Add the sugars and beat until light and fluffy. Add the eggs and beat well after each addition. Beat until smooth. Add the flour mixture, beating on low. Pour one cup of sugar into a shallow bowl.

Remove the bowl from the stand, and using a scant 1/4 cup of dough for each cookie, roll the dough into balls. Roll each ball in the sugar and place on an ungreased cookie sheet. Using a glass, gently press each cookie to make it about 2-inches in diameter. Bake for 8 minutes. Remove from the oven and place a kiss candy in the center of each cookie, pressing each candy gently into the center of the cookie. Return to the oven for 2 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool completely.

For easy transport, place on trays, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for a few hours to solidify the chocolate. They will warm by the time you deliver them. Makes 45 cookies.

Best Chewy Chocolate Brownies (Dairy)

4 squares bitter chocolate, melted

1 cup butter, softened

1-1/3 cups sugar

2/3 cup gently packed, dark brown sugar

4 extra-large eggs 

1 tsp. pure vanilla extract

1 cup unbleached flour

12 oz. chocolate chunks or chips

OPTIONAL: 1/2 to 1 cup walnuts, chopped; 1/2 to 1 cup white chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Melt bitter chocolate in small pan over very low heat. Watch carefully to prevent burning. Alternately, melt in microwave in 5 to 10 second bursts, stirring after each 10 seconds.

Cream the butter and sugars in an electric mixer. Add the eggs one at a time and beat well after each addition, scraping the bowl as needed. Add the vanilla, melted chocolate, and the flour and mix by hand. Add the chocolate chips and nuts or white chips and mix by hand. Pour into a well greased 9x13-inch pan. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes until a tester comes out clean. Cool completely before cutting. Makes 24+ bars.

Nut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies (Dairy, GF)

For those friends who are adhering to a Gluten Free diet.

1 cup nut butter (I like almond or cashew), unsweetened 

1 large egg

1 tsp. pure vanilla extract

1/4 tsp. pure almond extract

3/4 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar

1/4 cup granulated sugar

1 tsp. baking soda

2 Tbsp. pure maple syrup, dark amber

1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips or chunks

1/2 cup chopped walnuts, cashews, or slivered or sliced almonds

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment. Set aside. Mix together first four ingredients until smooth. Fold in chocolate chips and walnuts.

Make balls using about 1-1/2 Tbsp. of dough. Place evenly spaced on the sheets. Flatten very slightly. Place in the oven and bake for 11 to 14 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from the oven and let cool completely. Makes about 24 cookies.