During Hanukkah, yellow mesh bags of chocolate gelt appear out of nowhere, and just seem to multiply. Every party must have some, and every dreidel game demands them. Unfortunately, the appeal of eating those foil-wrapped coins can wane long before the cache of sweets does.

As the last Hanukkah candles burn, you may wonder what is to become of all those creamy treats.  You may even feel some guilt about the extra gelt. My solution? Take a cue from two sources that know their cocoa: Max Brenner, the all-chocolate restaurant that began in Israel and has since spread to serve chocoholics across multiple continents, and the Aztecs, who first made the cacao bean part of the menu. 

From the candy cafe, I draw on its lava-like hot chocolate. From the ancient civilization, I take the peppy blend of spices that accompanied the drink's savory ancestors.

Spiced Hot Chocolate

Makes 2 servings

Note: The amount of candy can vary, depending on the quantity of leftovers and the richness of the hot chocolate desired.

·    1/2-1 cup leftover Hanukkah gelt (or other chocolate candy), at room temperature, chopped
·    2 cups milk, divided
·    1/2 cup water
·    1 pinch, or to taste, each of ground cayenne, nutmeg, cinnamon, and cloves
·    ½ tsp. vanilla extract

In a small saucepan, heat 1/2 cup of the milk until just steaming. Remove from heat and add chocolate. Stir with a fork or wire whisk until chocolate is completely melted. If the chocolate isn't dissolving, return the saucepan to the stove and stir constantly over very low heat, or heat in a double boiler. Continue until completely blended and smooth.

Using the fork or whisk, gradually incorporate the rest of the milk and the water. Add the spices and vanilla extract. When the mixture is blended, heat over a medium burner until hot. To achieve a traditional South American scorched flavor, allow the milk to boil for a few seconds before allowing to cool slightly and serving.

To serve:
Ladle into big mugs, and sip as you put away your Hanukkiah and stash your dreidels for next year's games.

Rhea Yablon Kennedy

Rhea Yablon Kennedy holds a master's degree in creative nonfiction from Johns Hopkins University. Her writing has appeared in The Washington Post, Washingon Jewish Week, Examiner.com, and Edible Chesapeake magazine. Rhea has long been a cook by hobby and sometimes by profession. She currently writes full time for Gallaudet University.