What treats do you have on your holiday baking list? I always have a pile of things I want to make, so this year we started early. We try to do plenty of baking activities that involve the kids (and I always have a few recipes that I prefer to do after bedtime so that my inner control freak doesn’t embarrass herself). I laid out all the supplies for this particular activity on a lazy Sunday afternoon and let the kids go to town dipping pretzels and treats in melted candy. It was super fun for them and stress-free for me. It’s hard to go wrong with these simple ideas for holiday treat making!
The ticket to baking + candy sprinkles + kids is….candy melts! Candy melts are a lot of fun to use. They’re easy to melt, they taste great, and they stay wet long enough that you can sprinkle on decorations before they dry hard! (And once they do dry, they’re easy to handle!) We made dipped pretzel rods, dipped Oreos, and dipped “candy cane spoons.”
Candy Melts in desired colors/flavors (plan on two packages per dipping color so that the cup can be filled deep enough)
candy sprinkles Christmas mix
Peppermint crunch sprinkles
candy cane spoons or candy cane twists
disposable decorating bags 12″ for drizzling
deep mugs or candy melts melting pot
bowl for catching sprinkles
Fill a mug with candy melts and microwave at 30 second intervals, stirring between every interval, until the candy melts are completely smooth. Once my candy started melting down, I added additional melts to get the candy as deep as possible for dipping. If you are going to dip pretzel rods and would like to more fully coat them, you will need a taller, narrower glass for melting the candy.
If you plan on adding a drizzle over dipped items, now is a good time to get the drizzle prepared. Heat a large measuring cup filled with water for 2-3 minutes in the microwave so that it is very hot (not quite boiling). Fill a disposable decorating bag with a handful of candy melts and clip or rubber band the end closed. Place the bag in the water; the candy melts will start to soften and melt. Every now and then, squish the candy around to redistribute the heat and fully melt the candy. Keep the bags in the warm water until ready to use.
I found it easiest to prepare the candy melts and set out the food for dipping before alerting the girls to our afternoon activity. It doesn’t take much time to prepare, but we all do better if they’re not jumping up and down with the jar of sprinkles before the treats are ready to be made! The actual dipping is easy and the girls (ages 6-10) were able to do all the steps independently. Dunk your food into the melted candy, tap off the excess, add sprinkles, set on parchment paper to cool. EASY! FUN! Allow the food to cool and the candy to harden; slip the parchment paper onto a cookie sheet and pop it in the refrigerator for a few minutes to speed up the hardening process.
Once the dipped candy has hardened, you can add the chocolate drizzles. Remove the decorating bag from the warm water and dry the exterior completely with a towel. Snip the very tip off of the decorating bag with a scissors. Squeeze the bag gently and sweep your hand quickly from side to side across the food tray. You can achieve a more even drizzle if you lay all the pretzels, for example, next to each other and then start and finish your drizzle motion on the paper to the sides of the pretzels so that your hand is already moving as the drizzle hits the pretzels. Immediately pick up the drizzled food and move it to a fresh sheet of parchment paper for cooling so that the lines of drizzle don’t cool into one big piece.
We all loved the candy cane spoons and packaged up some little mason jars with hot cocoa mix (layer equal parts granulated sugar and unsweeted cocoa powder, plus a dash of salt) to pair with the spoons as quick gifts. Attach a tag that says “mix 1/4 c. cocoa mix with 1 cup of hot milk, stir, and enjoy!” I couldn’t resist this “Jar Jewelry” – festive snowflake mason jar lids and felt star twine wrap.
This kind of holiday crafting is my favorite – fun, festive, relaxing! I have some great little gifts on hand and another fun activity with my kids in the books!
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