Some craft activities seem to tick all the right boxes. I think making critters from marzipan, or almond paste as they call it in the States, is definitely one. Marzipan’s really simple to make, younger kids love to roll and squish into all sorts of creative shapes, older kids can let their imaginations run wild, and at the end of it all they can eat their colorful creations. And let’s face it, for kids, being able to gobble up their creations is really a plus.
When I first used marzipan with my own kids, or with students in craft classes, I could only get the liquid food colorings which were potentially quite messy if you didn’t take precautions. Today that problem is a thing of the past. The gel colorings now available are clean, easy to use, and give really bright pure colors.
Of course, you can make things even easier by buying the marzipan/almond paste from the supermarket, but I think that making it from scratch is just so much fun for kids. And if you’re looking for ways to help your kids build up a sense of independence and self-reliance, making marzipan critters has got to be one of the most doable and enjoyable ways I know of.
What You’ll Need
1 ½ cups almond flour/meal
1 ½ cups powdered sugar
1 egg white
food coloring gels
What To Do
1. Place the almond flour and powdered sugar in a food processor and pulse until combined and any lumps are broken up.
2. Add the egg white and process until a thick dough is formed. It should look like a kneadable dough, so if it’s too wet and sticky, add more powdered sugar and ground almonds.
3. Place the dough onto your work surface and knead to make sure all the ingredients are combined.
4. Divide into portions according to the number of colors you want to use.
5. Put on the latex gloves and add a small amount of the desired color to the marzipan (I use the end of a wooden skewer to take a tiny amount of gel from the container). Knead the marzipan till the color has mixed through evenly. If you want the color to be stronger, add a little more gel.
When all the portions of marzipan have been colored it’s time to start creating.
Tips and Tricks
Marzipan can dry out so keep it in an air tight container if you’re not using it straight away.
If the kids are finding it a bit difficult to get the eyes and other features to stick on just use a drop of corn syrup as a ‘glue’.
And the ends of tea spoons are great for poking into your marzipan and making open mouths.
The little fellow might look a little concerned about his friends’ intentions…
¦but they actually all get on extremely well. The class of Marzipan Critters 2015 smiling for posterity:
And if you’d like to try hand sewing cute critters with your kids take a look at Sew Together Grow Together at Amazon where you can now buy the ebook for $5 (reduced from $9.95) for one week only.