Saturday, December 17, 2011

Edible Christmas gifts made by little hands

Kids love to dip things in white chocolate, so it's a great way for them to learn about making gifts instead of buying them. When Little One wanted Christmas gifts for his classmates, we made pretzel sticks dipped in white chocolate.

With sprinkles! 

We used long, thick pretzel sticks, but you can dip just about anything that's big enough to hold onto. Cookies or graham crackers would be easy. One year (when Big One was still little) we used green food coloring to tint the white chocolate and dipped ice cream cones--the pointy kind--so they looked like Christmas trees. The sprinkles were the ornaments. He loved it!

The pretzels sticks are nice because you can put two or three in a cellophane bag for a cute kid-sized gift. And pretzel sticks are cheap.

I found this neat little dispenser from Wilton that had six different kinds of sprinkles in red and green. That was a big hit. For every pretzel, Little One got to choose which kind of sprinkles to use. Kids love variety!

Here's what we did:
Before we got started, I put my wire cooling rack on top of a cookie sheet lined with wax paper. The sprinkles will go everywhere, so it's nice to have "everywhere" somewhat contained by the cookie sheet. If you don't have a cooling rack, you can just spread the pretzels on wax paper, but the backs of them will probably get flat (which is not that big of deal, especially for kids). 

When we had everything ready, I melted the white chocolate in the microwave. You have to be very careful not to burn this stuff. I've done it, and it is a very gross mess. I always use 50% power, starting with about a minute and a half. Then I stir and do another minute. Then I stir again and see if it needs a bit more heat. You have to really stir and stir because it keeps melting as you stir.

Anyway, once the white chocolate is melted, you can tint it with food coloring if you want. But be sure to read the label on your white chocolate first. Some of the cheaper stuff is made with oil, and you can't add water or anything wet to it. We just went with the white, which was a nice contrast with the red and green sprinkles.

Then, the fun part! I dipped a pretzel and held it over the rack while Little One sprinkled, and then I put the pretzel on the rack to cool. We learned the hard way that you have to do one at a time. If you try to dip several in a row and sprinkle them all at once, the white chocolate will cool and harden before you can decorate them. After we finished about ten, the white chocolate started getting thick and gloppy, so I popped it back in the microwave (50% power!) for about 30 seconds (stir, stir, stir). By the time we were ready to start on the next round, the first batch had hardened, so we moved them off the rack to make room for more.

Little One even had fun putting the pretzels in the bags for his friends!

If you're looking for a homemade treat that kids will have fun with, buy some white chocolate and start experimenting. Ask your kids for ideas. It's a little messy, but most things are! Have fun first, and worry about the clean up later.



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