The holiday of Shavuot [shah-voo-OHT], which celebrates the giving of the Torah at Mt. Sinai, begins at sundown tonight and continues through Thursday evening. It is a major holiday, though one that isn't as well known as some (i.e.: Passover, Chanukkah).
Jeremy can never remember Shavuot by its proper name, and likely couldn't tell you what its signifcance is; but he does know it as the "Cheesecake at Midnight" holiday.
Yup - you read that correctly! According to About.com:
"Tikun Leyl Shavuot is a kabbalistic (mystical) custom that is relatively new to Jewish tradition. It is increasingly popular among modern Jews and is meant to help us rededicate ourselves to studying Torah. Kabbalists taught that at midnight on Shavuot the skies open for a brief moment and God favorably hears all prayers."
A tikkun leil shavuot (the spelling I'm accustomed to, pronounced [tee-KOON lay-EEL shah-voo-OHT]) is an evening of communal study which generally ends at midnight with a sweet treat featuring the holiday's traditional dairy products; and cheesecake - which is so luscious! - is often the preferred indulgence.
Many people eat blintzes at Shavuot, since the folded and stuffed crepes resemble Torah scrolls and the tablets containing the Ten Commandments.
But I have my own traditional dairy dessert for Shavuot: "fried" ice cream. Blintzes require making the crepes, filling the crepes, folding the crepes, frying the crepes ... a lot of bother, even if the end result is utterly fabulous.
So I just make these easy "fried" ice cream cylinders, shaping softened ice cream and then letting it set before rolling the "scrolls" in sweetened cookie crumbs and drizzling them with chocolate sauce. This still honors the dairy tradition whose origins are unknown, though it is thought to be a reference to Israel being the "land of milk and honey"; and it still offers something sweet and celebratory, but without a lot of effort.
Shavuot is a holiday, after all!
"Fried" Ice Cream Torah Scrolls
1-1/3 cups ice cream, any flavor, softened a bit
8 vanilla wafers, finely crushed
generous sprinkle of cinnamon
3 tablespoons sugar
Place a square of plastic wrap onto the countertop. Place 1/3 cup ice cream in the center.
Shape into a 3" long cylinder, then wrap it up in the plastic wrap, twisting the ends, and place into the freezer to set. Repeat with remaining ice cream until you have 4 cylinders.
When the ice cream is set, combine the wafer crumbs, cinnamon and sugar on a plate. One by one, unwrap the ice cream cylinders and roll them in the crumb mixture until they are very well coated.
Place the coated ice cream onto a freezer-safe plate that has been covered with plastic wrap, then repeat with the remaining ice cream. Freeze until set.
Place 2 ice cream cylinders onto a dessert plate. Place froofy toothpicks into the tops and bottoms of the "scrolls" (to represent decorative crowns). Drizzle chocolate sauce over the ice cream. Repeat with remaining cylinders.
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