My second son is my crafty, hands-on kind of guy–wants to bake everything and can make anything 3D if he can get his hands on scissors, paper and glue. And it was his idea to make the choco-cherry mice treat –last February–when his Highlights magazine featured it.
We needed to provide food for an Usborne book party I was hosting this hot July week, and I had just been talking out loud about maybe making cookies, and my son piped up, “Let’s do the mice!” since he’d recently re-found the magazine featuring it.
I’d never gotten around to making them with him because it’s just not common to have cherries lying around. The ingredients were otherwise easy: Hershey kisses, almond slivers that we used for ears (instead of suggested pumpkin seeds), almond cookies (instead of vanilla wafers), and chocolate chips to melt down with Crisco (which we skipped). I realized the recipe called for maraschino cherries with long stems, for the tails. But I’d never seen those for sale, plus I’m just not into red food dye.
So I bought regular, fresh cherries with stems–with the caveat that we needed to make a bunch of little signs to go with the treat to warn our guests of the pit inside each mouse! My older son wrote “Beware! Pit inside cherry.” We had our party today, and it worked well–even with young guests. No one bit down on a cherry pit! With each individual mouse sporting this little slip of paper, I don’t think anyone could have missed it 🙂
I melted the chocolate chips on the stove. (Lowest possible setting on the burner is key; if it’s too hot, the chocolate clumps and even burns.) My second son spread the cookies out on plates and trays, and after I dipped each cherry in chocolate, I placed each on a cookie. I feared the chocolate might dry so fast that we have to be really quick about assembling the rest, because the only adhesive the melted chocolate. But it turned out to be a no-pressure endeavor; nothing cooled or hardened until we put it in the fridge (in this 90+ degree weather) so no worries there!
With some help from our baby girl, my second son took charge of assembling the kisses onto the front of the cherry for the face and then placing the almond slivers between them for the ears. As they got going, the boys got inventive with other postures for the mice. Some faces looked up. Some even got little chocolate dot eyes, but not all.
My oldest got the delicate job of taking the finished project from the tray and placing it in a storage container. The almond cookies were thin and easily breakable! But I think all but one of the mice survived the transport! Then the hardest job: I had to find places in the fridge for four containers of choco-cherry mice!
All in all, they loved both the making and the eating of this treat. The only difficulty was that the melted chocolate was so…melty. Many mice looked like they were melting from the start. Maybe the Crisco would have helped with that? But that’s ok. Even if it would have, I didn’t really want an undigestable hydrogenated fat in the treat; I can deal with melty-looking mice!
And thanks to the grandmothers who get the boys magazine subscriptions–they keep them very busy with projects and crafting!
These are the kinds of things I always wish I did more of with the kids. So I felt I accomplished a lot that day–a lot more than merely making a snack for a party.