Monday, December 19, 2011

marshmallow dreidel spin, dance, and turn

Chanukah starts tomorrow night! Are you ready? I still have some shopping to do, but thankfully, I have 8 nights to get it all finalized. (Secret Chanukah buddy, don't worry; I'll have you covered!)

Friday was the final day of school before the three-week winter holiday. I signed up to bring dessert for the kids' holiday parties, and Bug's class asked that each family's contribution reflect their heritage. She came up with this dreidel idea based on a similar treat from the Sunday school Chanukah party. Aren't they so cute? Here they are with the letters in order from right to left: nun, gimel, hay, shin. It's an acronym: Nes Gadol Haya Sham, which means, "a great miracle happened there." (Fun fact: dreidels you buy in Israel actually have a letter peh instead of shin - it stands for Po in the acronym, and it changes the meaning to, "a great miracle happened here.")

If it were up to me, I would have made them all say gimel, since that's winning spin that lets you take all the gelt from the pot. My fair-minded daughter specifically requested an equal distribution of the Hebrew letters.

Not only were the dreidels a great idea, but I got to use child labor to complete all the prep work! The kids counted out 60 marshmallows, unwrapped 64 Hershey kisses (oh, did you notice that discrepancy? they each got to eat two as payment), and glued them on with melted chocolate. Later that night, once the chocolate glue firmed up, I inserted the pretzel sticks and then dipped them into candy melts (green) or melted chocolate (not green - if your chocolate is green, I highly recommend you don't eat it). After they hardened in the fridge for 15 minutes or so, I piped on the Hebrew letters. I packaged them in tupperware containers between layers of waxed paper, and they were ready to transport.

Unfortunately, I still struggle with dipping - not my best baking skill. I did get to try out my brand new Wilton Chocolate Pro, which made the job less frustrating. During Boy-o's school conference, the conversation turned to baking (you know, as it usually does when reviewing scholastic performance). Turns out B's teacher is a cake pop maker extraordinaire, and she highly recommended ponying up the $25 for this mini-crockpot-like device which melts the chocolate and keeps it warm while you dip. The sides of the pot stay cool, and the temperature holds steady, so you're less likely to burn yourself or your chocolate. She also recommended Paramount Crystals to thin the chocolate to the right consistency (similar concept to vegetable oil or shortening, but she claims they are easier to work with and more effective). I will try that next time, because I think thinner chocolate would be easier to manage and look smoother. I will definitely give the Chocolate Pro another whirl soon!

The dreidels were well-received at school, partly because they looked adorable and partly because what 5- and 7-year-olds don't like chocolate-dipped marshmallow, Hershey kiss, and pretzel? We may even make some more for the family holiday party this weekend!

Happy holidays, everyone!

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