Ellie Levenson Peppermint creams - fun to make with little hands
Most kitchen activities involve melting, baking or grilling, which rules out young kids making them without help. But there are some sweet treats kids can make with just minimal supervision, to be packaged nicely and given as presents or just to enjoy at home.
Peppermint or orange creams
These sweets can be made any colour, any shape, and any flavour, meaning you can customise them for any occasion. Cut out hearts for Valentine's day, holly for Christmas or stars any time.
Icing sugar (about 400g)
1 egg white (kids will need help separating the egg)
A squeeze of lemon juice (from a lemon or a bottle)
Peppermint or orange extract – a couple of drops
Food colouring if required
1. Whisk the egg white. It doesn't have to be in stiff peaks – that is too much for small hands – but give it a good whisk for a few minutes.
2. Then add the flavouring (peppermint or orange – not both), the lemon juice and, a bit at a time, the icing sugar. It should make a stiff paste that can be rolled with a rolling pin or formed into a sausage shape by hand – if you get to this stage without using all the icing sugar that's fine, or add more icing sugar if necessary until you get the right consistency.
3. Add a drop of food colouring (green for mint, orange for orange, or use your imagination) and knead until evenly coloured.
4. Dust your work surface with icing sugar and either roll the paste out (aim for half a centimetre but any thickness will do) and cut out with biscuit cutters, or form into small balls with your hands and then flatten.
Ellie Levenson Every variation of heart
5. There's no reason not to eat these straight away but they are best after a couple of hours in the fridge.
Tip: Leave half of the mixture uncoloured so you can make a combination of green and white or green and orange ones. Or decorate by brushing edible glitter on top.
With adult help: Melt chocolate in a bowl over water then dip the crèmes in them or drizzle over the top.
There's something delightfully funny about eating one food item made to look like another. For a really surreal experience use unexpected colours – blue strawberry anyone?
Knead the marzipan in with a drop or two of food colouring until it is evenly coloured. Form into fruit shapes. Store in an airtight container in the fridge.
Tip: Why stick at fruit. Try animals, people, flowers or trees.
With adult help: Use a thin paintbrush to add detail by applying fruit colouring directly to the marzipan shapes.
This old favourite needs several hours to set so is no good for children too young to understand delayed gratification. On the other hand, licking the bowl while you wait will help the time pass.
397g tin of condensed milk
400g icing sugar
350g dessicated coconut
Pink or red food colouring
1. Mix the condensed milk and icing sugar together with a fork.
2. Add the dessicated coconut and mix together. You might find it easier (and stickier) to use your hands to do this. The mixture should be really stiff so if it's still a bit loose after a good mix then add more dessicated coconut.
3. Split the mixture in two and colour half with a few drops of the food colouring. Mix with your hands until evenly coloured.
4. Take a lined cake tin and put in the coloured half of the mixture, patting down with your palms so it's tightly packed and flat on top.
5. Wash your hands so you don't turn the white half pink, and add the white half on top of the pink half, patting down with your hands so it's flat.
6. Allow this to set for several hours, preferably overnight, then cut into small squares, a couple of centimeters wide (get an adult to help with this bit).
Tip: Pink and white is traditional but any colour, or combination of colours, would work, if anyone dare taste it.
With adult help: Melt 100g chocolate in a bowl over boiling water and add to the mixture for chocolate coconut ice.