Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Cocoa Crafts

For a fun classroom treat, fill holiday mugs with this easy dessert.

When Carson's teacher invited parents to visit her fourth-grade class during the holiday season to read a story and do an activity, I planned an enjoyable hot-chocolate themed afternoon that was a hit with all the children. I found cute mugs at Wal-Mart for the students and filled each one with a yummy chocolate parfait. After our story time, the children ate their desserts and made cocoa cones.

Hot Chocolate Parfaits

This recipe provided enough desserts for Carson's class of 26.

1 brownie mix prepared according to package directions, with a couple of handfuls of chocolate chips sprinkled across the batter, baked in a 9" x 13" dish
2 tablespoons coffee, optional
3 (2.1 ounce) packages sugar-free instant chocolate pudding mix, prepared according to package directions
1 (16 ounce) container frozen fat-free whipped topping, thawed
1 (10.5 ounce) bag marshmallows
26 small mugs

Poke holes in warm brownies with a fork, and drizzle coffee over. (I wasn't sure fourth-graders would appreciate the added coffee flavor, so I omitted this step, but an older group would probably enjoy the added dimension of flavor.) Slice pan to make 40 brownies (8 rows by 5 rows), and place a brownie in the bottom of each mug. In a large bowl, fold whipped topping into pudding. (I layered the whipped topping and pudding in the mugs since I didn't know how much of each I would use, but I think the lighter colored pudding mixture would look more like a mug of hot chocolate.) Spoon the pudding mixture into each mug, and sprinkle a few marshmallows onto each dessert. (Note: Preparing the pudding mixture ahead and baking the brownies shortly before serving results in a pleasant mix of hot and cold, but you can prepare and refrigerate this dessert up to a day ahead.)

Sometimes sold in gift boutiques and gourmet food stores, cocoa cones are easy to make. Carson's fourth-grade class enjoyed assembling these as a gift for someone special. These would also make a sweet party favor at a holiday gathering.

Cocoa Cones

Carson's classmates were excited to make a gift to share with a parent or friend.

1 package of 12 inch disposable decorating bags (found with cake decorating supplies in craft and mart stores)
3 (20 ounce) cans instant hot cocoa mix
2 (10.5 ounce) bags marshmallows
2 (11.5 ounce) bags milk chocolate chips
26 (20 1/2") ribbons

For each cocoa cone, we scooped 1/3 cup cocoa mix into a decorating bag and shook it gently to make sure all the hot chocolate settled into the bottom of the bag. Then we added 1/2 cup marshmallows and 1/8 cup chocolate chips and tied the top tightly with a ribbon. Making these in Carson's class, I worked with the students two at a time. I had each student open a decorating bag and hold it open while I scooped the treats into the bag. Then each student chose a red or green ribbon and tied it around the top. Completing this project with the entire class of 26 took around 30 minutes. Children need to be reminded to carry their cones home upright so the layers will not shift and the cocoa won't spill.

After school, Carson was pleased to report that his classmates said our afternoon took first place among all their holiday activities this year. He was so proud he even chanted, "Mom's Number One!" in the middle of a store.

Public praise from an almost 10-year-old? Now that beats a cup of hot chocolate any day!

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