I confess: every Hanukkah, I have to look up the rules for the dreidel game again. It’s not complicated, but I only play it a few times a year, and usually with rowdy small children To keep the tradition alive and make memories for my family, I bring out the chocolate coins and spinning top out right after we eat our latkehs or sufganyot. While the Hanukkah candles burn brightly in the living room window, we sit down on the floor and groan to lose our chocolate money or clap our hands on winning.
This year, I made my own Hanukkah money from organic fair-trade chocolate. (Read our post on why fair-trade chocolate is important.) I thought my grandchildren might snub it, as the store-bought coins are more glamorous, but they said my home-minted money was more exciting. Here’s the recipe, and following it are the dreidel game rules.
Home-Made Hanukkah Coins
1 cup of fair-trade chocolate chips or grated chocolate
1 teaspoon sunflower oil
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
Line a tray with baking (parchment) paper.
Soften the chocolate in a double boiler or a pan set over hot water. Add oil and vanilla while the chocolate is still not entirely melted; stir. Cook till all is melted and incorporated.
Scrape the chocolate mixture out of the pan with a spatula, and allow it to cool for 15 minutes.
Oil your hands lightly to keep chocolate from sticking. Shape balls of two or three sizes, using a teaspoon, a half-tablespoon, and a tablespoon as measures.
Place the balls on the baking paper, and carefully flatten each one with your palm.
Refrigerate for an hour.
Garnish with sprinkles or wrap the “coins” in squares of gold or silver foil.
Rules of the Dreidel Game (via Wikipedia):
Each player begins with an equal number of game pieces (usually 10–15). The game pieces can be any object, such as chocolate gelt, pennies, raisins, or hundred dollar bricks.
At the beginning of each round, every participant puts one game piece into the center “pot”. In addition, every time the pot is empty and sometimes if it has one game piece left, every player puts one in the pot.
Each player spins the dreidel once during their turn. Depending on which player side is facing up when it stops spinning, they give or take game pieces from the pot:
1) If נ (nun) is facing up, the player does nothing.
2) If ג (gimel) is facing up, the player gets everything in the pot.
3) If ה (hei) is facing up, the player gets half of the pieces in the pot. (If there is an odd number of pieces in the pot, the player takes the half the pot rounded up to the nearest whole number)
4) If ש (shin) or פ (pei) is facing up, the player adds a game piece to the pot.
If the player is out of pieces, they are either “out” or may ask another player for a “loan”.
Chocolate on Green Prophet:
Photo of dreidels by Adiel Io via Wikipedia.
Miriam also blogs at Israeli Kitchen.