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The Friday 5: Top Jewish Desserts

Welcome to The Friday 5, where each week, we’ll offer up a 100% unscientifically compiled Top 5 list of Jewish culinary treats, meats, feats…you get the picture. Topics will range from the best desserts to kosher kitchen faux pas, so stay tuned. Don’t agree with the list, or have more to add? Challah back in comments.

Top 5 Jewish Desserts:

The Black and White Cookie: The black and white cookie may be indigenous to New York, and non-Jewish, New York baked-good buffs may regard it as the city’s cookie, but let’s get real: The black and white is a Jewish dessert, all the way. Even Jerry Seinfeld has expounded upon the ideal way to eat one: “The thing about eating the Black and White cookie, Elaine, is you want to get some black and some white in each bite. Nothing mixes better than vanilla and chocolate. And yet somehow racial harmony eludes us. If people would only look to the cookie all our problems would be solved.”

Rugelach: Ah, the ubiquitous, inescapable rugelach, without which no Shabbat oneg (or any oneg, for that matter) would be complete. These little rolled cookies are Ashkenazic in origin, and can be filled with anything from chocolate, to raisins and nuts, to fruit preserves. Fun fact: Rugelach translates to “little twists” in Yiddish.

Hamantashen: Some say that these three-cornered pastry delights are called Hamantashen (“Haman’s pocket”) in reference to the infamous Purim villain. Others argue that the word is actually a corruption of the Yiddish “montashn,” which translates to poppyseed-filled pouches. I say, who cares? Whatever you call them, these things are frickin’ delicious, whether they’re filled with poppyseeds, or lekvar, or apricot, or…

Halvah: Easily the most “ethnic” dessert on our list, halvah is a popular sweet from Turkey to India, Bulgaria to Israel, and many other places in between. Ingredients differ from place to place, and the traditionally “Jewish” kind (at least, the kind I grew up feasting on) is made with sesame seeds (surprise!). The dry but sticky, flaky but chewy confection is unlike anything else I’ve ever tasted.

Sufganiyot: Last, but certainly not least, the lauded sufganiyah – AKA jelly donut – paraded out at Hanukkah, but delicious any time of year. Are you ready for this Israeli jelly?

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