Amidst the marshmallow chicks and the foil-wrapped chocolate bunnies this Easter, tuck a nest of high-protein peanut butter balls coated with colorful nonpareils. Surprise the children, or better yet, invite your budding baker to join you and serve them to friends and family. A simple, nutritious food kids love for snack and lunches all year, sesame seed balls are easy for children to make independently.
What You Do:
- Choose a mixing bowl big enough for your child to put both hands inside. Pique a young child's interest with an invitation to "measure" the bowl!
- Set out ingredients together on the table. (Counters can be too high for children to manage the kneading motion.) Name the ingredients as your child places them on the table.
- Give your little baker a chance to measure the peanut butter and honey into the bowl -- since it doesn't require precision this is a perfect recipe for children just learning how to use a measuring cup.
- Ask your child to mix with a fork, stirring and squishing the mixture between the tines.
- Measure the powdered milk into a second bowl. Invite your child to pinch apart all the dry milk lumps right over the bowl -- a great fine motor exercise for kids learning to hold a pencil!
- Time for the fun part! Add about half of the milk powder and squeeze the mixture together by hand. At first it will stick to the child's fingers; they can press the sticky bits into the dry milk in the bowl, then scrape the mixture from their fingers into the bowl and squeeze some more. Very young children can work with a small piece while you mix and knead the rest. (Have a warm, damp towel in arm's reach for sticky fingers.)
- Continue to add powdered milk 2 tablespoons at a time, mixing thoroughly, until dough releases from the inside of the bowl and holds together. Knead it for a minute or so.
Sesame Seed Balls: Measure the sesame seeds into a saucer with a rim. Show your child how to form a small round of dough (half the size of a walnut) and, with the lightest touch, roll the dough in the sesame seeds. Work together to finish the balls, placing them on a saucer or in a small bowl.
Candy Eggs for Easter: It takes more finesse to make an egg shape and slight pressure is needed for non pareils to stick — tricky to do without squishing the egg. The child who is handling a pencil well at school should have the fine motor skills to manage; balls are easier for preschoolers. Better for home than parties — such a well-disguised peanut butter ball could fool a nut-allergic child (or adult!).