Kadurei shokolad, chocolate cookie bites rolled from a mixture of crumbled tea biscuits, cocoa powder, and oil or butter, are among the most iconic of Israeli kid foods. Like rice krispy treats in the States, kadurei shokolad are one of those things that everyone agrees is "for the kids," even though grownups are secretly calculating how many they can get away with. Kadurei shokolad are humble, and yet entirely welcome at any celebratory dessert table. After some time in the fridge (no baking involved), the cookie bites are rolled by hand from the chilled mixture and coated with either flaked coconut or non-pareils (by authoritative tradition, like how carrot cake has to have those little frosting carrots on it.) Kadurei shokolad—by the way, that's literally "chocolate balls," not exactly translation-friendly—are the truffles of the proletariat.
The recipe below is adapted from Ruth Sirkis, the erstwhile doyenne of Israeli home cooking and one of the most famous cooks you've never heard of (unless you're an Israeli of a certain age). Ruth Sirkis has a special place in my heart, and I'm planning to write more about her contribution to Israeli cuisine. Like so many of her dishes, this one is down-home perfection. Unlike most parve-ized recipes, it's every bit as good in its parve version as it is in its dairy form, especially if you use coconut oil (my chiddush), but you can use margarine/vegan butter as well.
Key ingredient: petit buerre biscuits
Alright, let's get into it. First and foremost, to make kadurei shokolad you need petit buerre style biscuits, which play the role of graham cracker in the Israeli pantry. In English they seem to be known as tea biscuits. Basically, they're a dry, flat biscuit that just barely veers into sweetness, the kind of thing I imagine used to be dunked into tea before there were better alternatives. Petit beurre is an historical term and not a trademark, so lots of brands can market them as such. Two kosher brands available in the US are Kedem Plain Tea Biscuits and, depending where you are, Osem Classic Petit-Buerre. Another major Israeli brand is Gattegno Brothers. Lu is a common brand you'll see in US supermarkets with the rest of the packaged cookies, but it doesn't have a hechsher; for that, check out the kosher section. The Kedem brand ones are often hiding out in even the most paltry of kosher sections.
In Israel petit buerre biscuits come in all sorts of flavors, at least ostensibly, because they're bland by design, the better to make crusts and confections with. (Another popular use for them is in the canonical Israeli biscuit cake (ugat biskvitim), an icebox cake made with a ream of petit beurres and twelve tons of creamy cheese.) You can pretty much use any flavor, though plain is the standard here.
How to make (no-bake) cookie bites
So, I have a pet peeve when it comes to recipe difficulty labels. First off, I suspect that 95% of all recipes are rated "easy," rendering the rating effectively meaningless. Secondly, and more crucially, "easy" usually refers to simplicity, which is almost never easy. I mean, making a custard is very simple--warm some milk and thicken it with egg yolks. Okay, yeah, but the process is actually quite tricky to get right. Then there's the scenario where the process is relatively straightfoward, but labor-intensive, like tamales, a thing that people rightfully get together to assemble.
With that little preamble, I'll say that chocolate bites, being the dessert of the people that they are, are indeed simple, but requiring of some fussy labor. You have to crush the biscuits, then make the chocolate mixture and chill it. Once it's well chilled, you roll the mixture into little balls and swish them around in flaked coconut or non-pareils. So it takes some time. That being said, judging from the amount of kosher-for-Passover Israeli box mixes for these chocolate bites on the market, Israelis can't typically go a week without them.
Back when people were fond of using brandy the way we use vanilla extract these days, these cookie bites inevitably sported it. It's more nostalgic than necessary, but every now and again I'll make an old-school batch.
My mom's old notebook recipe says you can substitute cake crumbs, and I remember my mom doing this all the time. You do need a lot of cake crumbs to make a batch of cookie bites, because they're not as dry and eager to soak things up as tea biscuits. I've had more success with biscuits and recommend sticking with them. However, I'm going to have to tangentially plug cake crumbs, as a generality. They are a totally underrated kitchen staple, if only for the peace of mind they give one when one botches a cake but is having trouble letting go of one's sunk costs. In his truly outstanding book A Jewish Baker's Pastry Secrets, George Greenstein talks about how important cake crumbs are to a good rugelach, inter alia, and why home cooks should invest in keeping some around, like the bakeries did. (Greenstein is also the author of the better-known book Secrets of a Jewish Baker, also wonderful; however, it's the pastry book, which was published published posthumously by his children, that numbers among my desert-island cookbooks.) So, keep the cake crumbs for rugelach and strudel.
Israeli Chocolate Cookie Bites - Kadurei Shokolad (dairy or parve)
- mini muffin liners, optional
- 1 sleeve petit buerre style biscuits, such as Kedem Plain Tea Biscuits - 250g
- 1 stick butter, melted, or ½ cup softened coconut oil - 100g
- ⅓ cup cocoa powder
- ½ cup sugar
- ⅓ cup milk, dairy or non
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 ½ Tbsp brandy - optional
- ¾ cup flaked coconut - for coating
- ½ cup non-pareil candies - for coating
Make the chocolate mixture:
- Crush the petit beurre biscuits using a food processor or by placing them in a zip-top bag and pulverizing with a mallet or rolling pin. Set aside.
- In a large mixing bowl, combine the melted butter or softened coconut oil, cocoa powder, sugar, milk, and vanilla extract (and brandy, if using). Stir until evenly combined.
- Add the biscuit crumbs to the bowl and mix until thoroughly combined into a thick batter. Cover and refrigerator for at least an hour, or up to several days.
Roll into balls:
- Place the flaked coconut in a small bowl and the non-pareils in a separate small bowl. Take out a container to hold the finished cookie bites, such as a lined sheet pan or a large platter lined with mini muffin liners.
- Remove the chocolate mixture from the refrigerator. It should be stiff and easy to handle. Using your hands, roll the mixture into a bite-sized ball about 1 ½" / 4cm in diameter.
- Roll the ball in either the coconut or non-pareils. They should stick neatly to the cookie bite. If the dough is too soft and difficult to work with, refrigerate it for another half hour. Otherwise, repeat until the batter is used up.
- Serve right away or store in the refrigerator for later. These keep for a long time if refrigerated.