I give you an edible dreidel that actually spins. It shares the chief values of the marshmallow dreidel and my mini-marshmallow dreidels—values which lie in the building, the writing upon (with food-safe markers) and the eating. To these attractions, the caramel dreidel adds the bonus of spin.
And, because the overall shape of a caramel dreidel mimics a real, four-sided dreidel, it can be used to play the dreidel game. The sides of a caramel are smooth and firm: a surface that begs for the application of Hebrew letters with edible ink. Food-safe markers are better than piped frosting for this dreidel, because frosting will smear when the dreidel drops.
Caramel brands vary in texture and dimension, but the kosher brand I tried (Kraft) is fine. It doesn’t start out as a perfect cube, but a bit of a squish with the broad flat surface of, say, a bread dough scraper or a fat butter knife will coax the longer planes down to match the shorter ones. A perfect cube is key to a balanced and therefore satisfying spin. See my troubleshooting tips below.
Expect, at best, up to 10 seconds of spin. Pretty good for a caramel. It spins upside down, too, but if it falls off the table, the handle will shatter into broom-defying crumbs.
Programming this with kids? You’ll need:
- Napkin or plate as work surface
- Caramel Cubes (shop around for a good, fat cube)
- Chocolate Kisses
- Thin pretzel sticks (Snyder’s “Sticks” are perfect and OU kosher)
- Frosting (or fluff or Nutella or nut butter)
- Toothpick (supervise young children and husbands with Ph.Ds)
- Edible-ink pen (see notes about this at my Marshmallow Dreidel post)
- Plastic plate upon which to practice spinning (crucial at a Hanukkah carnival station).
1. Unwrap caramel. Flatten into a cube if it isn’t symmetrical already.
2. With toothpick, poke a hole in the exact middle of the caramel
3. Break pretzel stick to about 3/4 inch in length (eat the extra)
4. Poke pretzel stick midway into hole
5. Add letters (see below)
6. Dab frosting onto other end of caramel
7. Push kiss onto frosting
8. Play, Eat.
Troubleshooting: If your dreidel doesn’t spin as well as you imagined it would, nibble a bit off the point of the kiss to increase the surface area. Shorten the handle (a too-long handle means a top-heavy dreidel). Is the handle in the exact middle? Is your caramel a cube (balanced)?
If the dreidel falls off the table (you should be using an arena or playing on the floor, or both) and the handle shatters, back it out and replace it.
As a caramel heats in play, it might develop a small gap around the pretzel stick, and eventually the balance will go awry. Give it a squeeze to tighten it and keep playing, but then again, the warmth of your squeeze may make it gap even quicker. Oh, the conundrum: to play or to eat. Do both.
HEBREW LETTERS on a dreidel stand for Nes Gadol Haya Sham (a Great Miracle Happened There), the miracle being that the wee jar of oil lasted 8 days and nights.
נ Letter: Nun. Stands for Nes (miracle)
ג Letter: Gimmel. Stands for Gadol (great)
ה Letter: Hey. Stands for Haya (happened)
ש Letter: Shin. Stands for Sham (there)
Click this (DreidelGame2013) for a printable “How to Read a Dreidel” sheet, explaining the names of letters, what they stand for and how to play the game.
The letters go in order from right to left on a dreidel. Which means, if you want to be strictly correct, a gimmel will never be next to a shin, and a nun will never be next to a hey. You’d be surprised how many picture books show dreidels with letters out of order.
See Hanukkah story at MyJewishLearning.com, here.