Every child loves playing with food, and what better way to enjoy crafted creations than by eating it when all is said and done. So, instead of thinking of favorite holiday games or crafts to do with children this week, our stomachs got the better of us. Here are four of our favorite “foodie” activities to celebrate the Festival of Lights, and literally add some sweetness to our days.
1. Make an Edible Menorah
Creating edible menorahs with your young children before lighting the family menorah on the first day of Hanukkah is a fun snack time activity for the whole family. There are a variety of “ingredients” to choose from when planning, from healthier carrot sticks, peanut butter, and bread, to more decadent doughnuts or cupcakes.
Healthy Edible Menorah
Ingredients: A slice of bread, preferably a slice from a round boule, long enough for nine candles, for each child. Put out bowls of peanut butter or almond butter, raisins, carrot or celery sticks.
To assemble: Have each child spread the bread with the nut butter. Stick nine carrot or celery sticks in a straight line down the center, each stick representing one of the nine candles on a menorah. “Glue” a raisin “flame” on top of each carrot with a dab of nut butter. Admire, photograph… Then eat!
Decadent Edible Menorah
Ingredients: Nine cupcakes (or doughnuts) and candles. Nine hungry children. Optional: Making, baking, and decorating the cupcakes with the kids (and their moms) from scratch as a holiday play date activity.
To assemble: Have each child line their cupcakes together in a row, elevating the one in the middle on a block, to create a menorah. Light the candles and take a photo of the kids standing behind their masterpiece, before they blow out the candles and devour their creations.
2. Homemade Gelt
Why bother with purchasing the store-bought, foil-wrapped variety when you can create your own gelt at home? There are a variety of ingredients to choose from, and chocolates to dip with, so you can create something “healthy,” like chocolate dipped apricots, or more indulgent, like chocolate-dipped wafer cookies or Oreos.
1. Melt the chocolate in a microwave, working in 30 second increments and stirring in between. You can also use a double boiler over gently boiling water, stirring continuously. Continue until 3/4ths of the chocolate is melted (the unmelted chocolate will seed the melted chocolate, so that the resulting chocolate is still tempered).
2. Remove from heat and keep stirring (the residual heat will melt the rest of the chocolate) until the chocolate is smooth.
3. Drop each treat into the chocolate and turn it cover all sides.
4. Place on a wax paper-lined baking sheet and let harden.
If you’re a chocolate purist, like me, and like your chocolate unadulterated, simply spoon quarter (or larger, if you wish) sized dollops onto foil and let harden. Once cool you can wrap each “coin” for a homemade version of the foil-wrapped classic.
3. Edible Dreidels
Remember when, growing up, your mother or father would admonish you, crying out “don’t play with your food!” Maybe you’ve said the same to your kids. But, now we’re going to confuse them with these “edible dreidels” that, yes, we encourage you to play with.
Now, if you’re competitive and looking for a winning dreidel, these designs aren’t for you, as I’m sure you could guess. However, for teaching children how to play the game, these are a fun tool to make – and eat afterwards.
1. Skewer marshmallow with pretzel stick, taking care not to break the pretzel. With a bit of peanut butter or Nutella, “glue” an unwrapped Hershey Kiss to the flat side of marshmallow and set aside.
2. In a microwave, working in 30 second increments, melt the chocolates until 3/4ths melted, stirring in between intervals, and then stirring again until fully melted and smooth.
3. Roll and dip the dreidel in the chocolate, then let harden on a wax paper-lined baking sheet.
4. Meanwhile, place melted white chocolate into a plastic piping bag, making sure to keep it warm. Once the dreidel is hardened, you can pipe the various symbols onto the chocolate covered marshmallow, pretending it is square rather than cylindrical. Let the dreidels harden overnight before playing dreidel games.
4. Homemade Applesauce
Many Jewish families have a tradition of making latkes every year during Hanukkah. Older children can help grate the potatoes, and possibly fry the latkes, but sharp blades and hot oil don’t mix well with young children. Instead, make an activity out of picking apples and making homemade applesauce. Take a trip to the local orchard or farm stand to pick out juicy Cortland and McIntosh apples; your children will enjoy learning about where apples come from, and how to look for a sweet, ripe fruit. When you get home, once the apples begin to break down in the pot, your children will love mashing the soft flesh into a smooth sauce.
Ingredients: Apples, water. Cinnamon is optional.
1. Wash, core, and chop apples. Peeling the apples is optional; it depends on your preference, and if you’re using a Foley food mill, they won’t go through. I like cooking the apples with the skin on, as it imparts a pink color to the sauce.
2. Fill a 4-quart saucepan with 1” of water, and then add the apples.
3. Cover, and bring to a boil over high heat. Once boiling, stir the apples and reduce to medium. Cover and cook until the apples are mashable (time depends on the apples you choose).
4. Mash and serve warm with crispy, fried latkes.
This article was originally published on November 30, 2011.