Tuesday, October 07, 2014

Make a Cookie Sukkah for a Sweet Sukkot

My cookie sukkah!  Notice the hanging fruit.
There are some very specific rules for building a sukkah (hut) when celebrating the Jewish holiday of Sukkot, which starts this Wednesday night. The sides and roof have to be built a certain way and the sky must be seen through the roof when you sit inside. The Cookie Sukkah below doesn't adhere to any of these rules and you definitely can’t eat in it, as is the Sukkot tradition, but you can actually sit down and eat the sukkah.

This family project can be a good discussion starter about Sukkot, also known as the Festival of Tabernacles or Booths.  It commemorates the shelters ancestors built for protection during the Exodus and during harvests in Israel. It uses filled, rolled wafer cookies to build a log-cabin style sukkah. There are many brands and flavors of these cookies (several certified kosher). Cookie lengths vary, so adjust directions if needed to keep dimensions proportional. (I used Pepperidge Farm Pirouettes.) Buy extras since breakage (and snacking) is inevitable. When assembling, use enough frosting for the cookies to adhere but not so much as they slide off one another. Decorate with fruit-shaped candies. Use the sukkah for a centerpiece or eat it for dessert. Either way it will help make a sweet holiday.

If you don't want to use or can't get the rolled cookies, pretzel rods or hard bread sticks will also work, although you might have to fuss with the dimensions a bit.

It can be made up to 48 hours in advance and kept very loosely wrapped at room temperature. Try making a etrog and lulav (the traditional Sukkot symbols) out of marzipan tinted with food coloring. (Or use a Lemonhead candy for the etrog and springs of green herbs for the lulav.)

Cookie Sukkah
Inside sukkah

Makes 1 Sukkah

About 8 oz. 6” long, filled, rolled wafer cookies (you'll need at about 24 or so of the 6" cookies)
3/4-1 cup purchased white frosting
Assorted fruit-shaped candies, cereal and or fruit snacks

Have ready a flat tray, parchment or waxed paper, ruler, serrated bread knife, aluminum foil, needle, and thread.

Cover tray with parchment or wax paper. Set aside 18 of the 6” long cookies. Gently saw rest with serrated knife into 8-1” long pieces and 8-2”long pieces.

You will be building this "log cabin" style, using the frosting for glue.  If at any time the structure seems precarious, stop and let frosting set a bit or add in support while it dries.  (See Level 3.)

Building sukkah before roof

Level 1
Smear bottom of 1-6” long cookie with frosting. Press gently to adhere to tray 2 and 1/2" from the middle. This will be the back of the sukkah, side “A.” Frost bottom of 2-2” pieces. Press them down 5” from the first, with the outside ends of the short pieces lining up with the outside ends of the 6” cookie and parallel to side “A.” This will create the opening for the door.  This is side “B,” or the front of the sukkah.

Cover the bottom of 2-6” cookies with frosting. Lay them perpendicular to sides “A” and “B” log cabin style, allowing the ends to protrude 1/2" over “A” and “B.” Press gently to secure. This makes sides “C” and “D.”

Frost the bottom of 2-1” pieces. Press them down perpendicularly across the 2” pieces but parallel to sides “C” and “D” and indented 1/2" from the inside ends of the 2” pieces.

Level 2
Frost the bottom of 1-6” cookie and lay atop side “A.” Frost 2-2” pieces and lay perpendicular to the 1” pieces on side “B.” (So the 2” pieces are parallel to the “A” side.)  Press gently to secure. Cover the bottom of 2-6” cookies with frosting. Place on top sides “C” and “D.” Next, frost the bottom of 2-1” pieces. Lay perpendicular to “A” and B” across the 2” pieces as in level 1.

Level 3
Repeat Level 2 directions. If necessary, crumple up balls of foil to help support inside corners. (This is when I started needing the supports.)

Level 4
Detail of front construction

Repeat level 2 directions.

Level 5
Frost the bottom of 2-6” cookies. Place one atop side “A” and one atop side “B” (to create a door way header). Cover unused frosting.

Let structure sit for 1 hour. Remove foil supports. Frost back of candies and gently press on to inside and outside walls. If using soft candies such as gummies or fruit snacks, thread needle and poke through candy. Tie off ends to make 1” loops. Hang on the 4 remaining 6” cookies. Frost cookie bottoms. Place each about 1” apart across sukkah top parallel to sides “C” and “D” to make roof, with candy dangling down. Store at room temperature, loosely covered with parchment or waxed paper.

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