Yay for the edible craft

Before I had a child I was under the impression that all kids like to make art.  That they like to draw and paint and color and cut and make stuff every chance they get.  Okay, so not so much it turns out.  My child has never really been one who gravitates to the art station at school or sits down at his studio to color or paint just for fun.  He'd rather wrestle or build a tower or read or take pictures with my camera. 

Since crafts aren't really his go-to activities, I've been looking for other ways to exercise his creative muscles.  It turns out that cooking is something he likes, and it's creative.  Food projects allow him to use machinery, figure out how something works, watch it get bigger, whisk and stir and scrape, scatter and sprinkle stuff, make swirls, and design something himself . . . followed by his favorite part: eating.  Plus, we occasionally get results that can double as gifts.  Or we get a chance to share the fun with a friend we've invited over.

Here are a few of the edible crafts we've made lately.

Valentine's Bark
Around Valentine's Day, we experimented with white chocolate mint bark . . . then chocolate bark with swirls of white chocolate mint . . . all with Valentine's sprinkles, of course.  Once it was cooled and hardened, we broke it into pieces to eat and share.  Wyatt helped with all the steps.

Melt about 1/2 pound of white chocolate melting wafers (I like the white mint-flavored ones), available at cake decorating shops and craft stores.  Spread the melted wafers in a foil lined baking sheet or shallow pan (works well in an 8x8 or 6x9).  Scatter sprinkles on top before it sets.

For a chocolate version: Melt semi-sweet chocolate chips (or melting chocolate) and spread in a thin layer in a foil lined pan. After it has hardened (you can refrigerate to speed the process), drizzle melted white chocolate on top, then finish with sprinkles.

Dip & Sprinkle Pretzels

White chocolate chips (or melting wafers)
Mint extract, optional

Line a baking sheet with foil and set aside.  In a another container, melt your chips however you like until smooth and thin (add a few drops of milk if it's too thick).  Drop in a bit of mint extract if you like and stir it in.  Then (kids) drop in your pretzels and (grown ups) fish them out with a wooden skewer, letting the excess chocolate drip off.  Place it on the foil-lined sheet and decorate with sprinkles while still warm so the sprinkles will stick.

Breadstick Hearts
Inspired by the set of Katie Woo children's books that Wyatt is constantly reading these days, these bread sticks are a fun afternoon project that becomes a nice snack when accompanied by some veggies. Our latest batch got shaped into Xs and Os.

1 can of refrigerated pizza dough (or breadstick dough if you can find it)
Parmesan cheese, shredded
One egg white, beaten
Sea salt

Preheat the oven to the correct baking temperature for the dough.  Divide the dough into pieces that can be stretched into 12"-long ropes (about 8).  Stretch and twist the dough and shape it into the shape of a heart (or Xs and Os) and place on an ungreased baking sheet.  Brush with the egg white, sprinkle with shredded cheese and top with salt.  Bake for 6-10 minutes until browning on top.

The Strawberry-Blackberry Lassi
I've made this at our preschool as a small group activity.  It's great fun to get five or six kids to help you prep the fruit, measure the buttermilk, and drop in the ice cubes.  Every kid drinks it too!

6 Fresh strawberries, green tops removed by a child
1 cup fresh blackberries (or frozen is okay too)
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
1 Tb. honey
six ice cubes

Blend together and drink.


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