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The Beracha Recited Over Chocolate Bars with Nuts, and Over Coated Almonds

The prevalent custom is to recite the Beracha of "She'hakol Niheya Bi'dvaro" before eating chocolate. This Halacha applies even to chocolate bars containing nuts or small pieces or rice; even though nuts generally require the Beracha of "Ha'etz" and rice requires the Beracha of "Mezonot," in this case the Beracha of "She'hakol" covers the entire chocolate bar. Since the chocolate constitutes the "Ikar" – the primary ingredient – and the nuts or pieces of rice are added as an enhancement, it is the chocolate that determines the Beracha over the entire product. As such, one recites "She'hakol" and this Beracha covers even the nuts or pieces of rice.

What Beracha does one recite over coated almonds, such as almonds coated with honey, sugar or chocolate?

The Ben Ish Hai (Rabbi Yosef Haim of Baghdad, 1833-1909), in Parashat Pinhas (15), records that his father had the practice to separate a bit of coating from the almond and then recite separate Berachot: "Ha'etz" over the almond, and "She'hakol" over the sugar coating. However, the prevalent practice in Iraq, as the Ben Ish Hai observed, was to recite "She'hakol" over the entire almond. The Ben Ish Hai ruled that his father's custom was the more correct view.

Rabbi Moshe Halevi (Israel, 1961-2001), in his work "Birkat Hashem" (vol. 3, p. 326; listen to audio recording for precise citation), suggests distinguishing in this regard between different kinds of coatings. In his view, the Ben Ish Hai referred to foods such as the "Labass," an almond with a thick coating. A thick coating constitutes an independent entity which warrants its own Beracha, and for this reason the Ben Ish Hai held that one should recite two separate Berachot, over the almond and over the coating. With regard, however, to almonds with a thin coating of sugar or chocolate, Rabbi Moshe Halevi contends that one should recite "Ha'etz" over the almond and this Beracha covers the coating, as well. Since the coating is very thin, it is deemed subsidiary to the almond and thus does not warrant its own Beracha. Others held that even if the almond is covered with a thick layer of coating one recites "Ha'etz" over the entire almond; this appears to be the position of Hacham Ovadia Yosef.

It thus emerges that three opinions exist with regard to coated almonds. One view requires reciting "She'hakol" in all cases, another view requires reciting "Ha'etz" in all cases, and a third view holds that one recites "Ha'etz" if the coating is thin and two separate Berachot if the coating is thick.

All three views are acceptable, and one should therefore consult with his Rabbi for guidance.

Summary: One recites the Beracha of "She'hakol" over chocolate bars even if they contain nuts or small pieces of rice. There is a difference of opinion as to which Beracha or Berachot one recites over coated almonds. Some maintain that one recites "She'hakol," others maintain that one recites "Ha'etz," and others maintain that if there is a thin layer one recites "Ha'etz" whereas if there is a thick layer one recites two separate Berachot – "Ha'etz " over the almond and "She'hakol" over the coating. All three practices are acceptable and firmly grounded in Halacha, and one should therefore consult with his Rabbi for guidance.


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