‘Tis the season to be cooking! Much of the festive season is spent in the kitchen, baking and creating a range of dishes for end-of-year celebrations and family catch ups. Why not get extra helping hands in the kitchen from the kids? In fact all of these super simple fun recipes and food decorating ideas can be almost completely done by kids. Despite how easy they are, they look extra special and cute to take to Christmas gatherings or for the family to munch on at home. So, to get everyone in the Christmas spirit, help prepare food for festive events, and teach kids some valuable kitchen skills, here are 10 fun Christmas recipes.
1. Snowman cupcakes
Kids and adults know that cupcakes are all about the icing. So, once you’ve baked your cake of choice (vanilla works best for decorating with snowmen), the important work begins. Make vanilla icing at home, or buy pre-made icing in the baking section at your local grocery store, and cover a thick layer on the cupcake. Use marshmallows on the edge as the face, and design around this. Use a chocolate icing pen to draw eyes, mouth, arms, and buttons, or change things up by using baking pearls or M&Ms button and pretzel arms to create an effective three-dimensional look.
2. Strawberry Santas
Strawberry santas are almost too cute to eat, but the kids will be gobbling these down before they have even finished making them. The bonus is they are a healthier alternative to other sweets, and encourage kids who are reluctant to eat fruit, since they look so great. If the kids are keen to do this one on their own, they can use a safety knife to cut off the leafy end of the strawberry so it stands up, and then slice the tip to make a Santa hat. Use whipped cream, cake icing, or cream cheese as filling, placing a large dollop on the strawberry base, a small dollop on top of the hat to act as a pom-pom, and two small dollops down the front of the base as buttons. Place the hat on top, use two chocolate sprinkles as Santa’s eyes and you are done!
3. Christmas tree pizza
Homemade pizza is a quick and easy dinner to make, and helps get the kids involved in the kitchen. In the lead up to Christmas, make your pizza that little bit more festive by cutting the dough with a large Christmas tree cutter to instantly make it merry. The kids can go crazy with their toppings of choice, so even the fussiest of eaters are pleased. Christmas recipes don’t need to involve food exclusive to the festive season, you can always turn favourites into something perfectly suited for the holidays.
4. Gingerbread men
Gingerbread men are a staple at Christmas, so you will easily be able to find the right cookie cutter and decorative baking tools at the shops for the kids to create something fun. The essential decorating item you need is royal icing (grab food colouring if the kids want to get really creative with multiple colours) with piping bags or an icing pen, as this will allow them to draw as they please and hold the other decorations in place. You can also use anything from sprinkles, to baking pearls, to choc chips; whatever the kids come up with!
5. Snowman hot chocolate
It might not be chilly in New Zealand during Christmas, but there’s still no going past a hot chocolate before bed. Brew your hot chocolate as normal (the frothier it is, the better the snowman will float), and then prepare your snowman. Use three marshmallows and poke a toothpick through them to create the snowman shape. Add two pretzel sticks to the bottom marshmallow as legs, and two on the side of the middle marshmallow for arms. Melt hocolate of your choice and dollop (use a piping bag if easier) three small amounts down the body for buttons, and eyes and mouth on the face.
6. Santa Pancake
Pancakes are the perfect treat for breakfast, so let the kids make their own extra special version decorated as Christmas characters. Santa Claus works great, and the kids only need whipped cream or white frosting of choice to smother the pancake as Santa’s beard and hair (make sure to leave room for the eyes and nose). Fill the top of the plate with strawberries to create a hat, and use blueberries as eyes — a great way to even out the sweet treat with some healthy additions. Let the kids’ imaginations run wild and create all different faces from reindeers to elves to angels.
7. Fruit Christmas tree
While most kids normally opt for sugar-filled dessert instead of a healthier alternative, show them that fruit can be just as fun to decorate with in the kitchen and equally tasty. Especially since Christmas falls during summer, fresh fruit on a hot day is a healthy, refreshing snack that is hard to pass. To assemble the Christmas tree, use cut up kiwifruit (kids can cut with safety knives) and cover the plate in the shape of a triangle for the tree, and use whatever fruits you have for decoration. Strawberries, raspberries, blueberries and pomegranate make great decorations, but you can use anything, like banana, mango or pineapple as well.
8. Reindeer cookies
Cookies are a go-to dessert anytime of year because of how quick and easy they are, so get the kids involved in the bakking and decorating for this one. After baking your favourite cookies, allow to cool before decorating, no matter how excited the kids are getting. There are many ways to create reindeers; use chocolate icing to draw on two eyes and reindeer antlers and stick an M&M on as the nose, or cover the entire cookie in icing and stick on M&Ms or baking pearls as eyes and nose and pretzels on the top to stick out as antlers. The beauty of round-shape cookies is that you can create just about anything with them. Once they have mastered one character like the reindeer go ahead and let the kids try a new design.
9. Christmas tree meringues
While meringues are available from your local grocery store, you can whip these up at home with the kids. Preheat the oven to 90 degrees celsius. Place four egg whites, one cup of sugar and a pinch of cream of tartar in a bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water until the sugar dissolves. Remove from heat and whisk intwo drops of peppermint extract if desired. Then, beat the egg whites until they are bright white but still runny, and add in green food colouring, continuing to beat until stiff peaks form. Use a piping bag with a wide star tip to create the tree shape. Bake for two hours and allow to cool. You may need to assist the kids in making meringues, but it’s a great opportunity for them to learn essential baking skills like mixing and beating. Use royal icing to attach a star to the top of each tree and decorate with baking pearls or sprinkles, and use icing sugar as snow.
10. Gingerbread house
Every adult is bound to have fond memories of decorating gingerbread houses when they were kids. Even if they didn’t turn out as pretty as expected, or got eaten too quickly, the way everyone designs their gingerbread house is different which is what makes them special and unique. Bake the gingerbread yourself or buy a kit at the shops for a head start. Some kits come with plenty of decorations already, but if you’re after some staples grab enough icing, candy canes, lollies of your (or your kid’s) choice, sprinkles, baking pearls, pretzels and wafers. The best part about gingerbread is that it lass for months if stored correctly, so the kids can knock this one over early and still save it as a centrepiece to use (and of course later eat) on Christmas Day.
Having the kids help out in the kitchen around Christmas is awesome for the whole family, and they will be extra proud when party guests are devouring their special handmade treats.
Get your Christmas food essentials from Countdown The Palms.