Hello my little friend,
In the spirit of Valentine's day or Valentimes as my kids call it, I'm sharing with you the school treat we made for the Valentine's Day party. Tasked with making a fruit plate but that would compete with plenty of sweets and other treats, we decided to get some assorted fruit and make something fun for the kids combined with good ol' Jell-O.
Having failed at Jello many times in the past, I was resolved to get it right and I've had a stash of Jello sitting in the cupboard just for the occasion. If you plan like myself to make Jello Jigglers as they call them, do not make the mistake of just making Jello with the main recipe on the box! Also, if you want to make anything with Jell-O I advise doing it at least 4 hours before you need it and/or doing it the night before. The most depressing thing for a kid is thinking you'll have jello when you actually only have sugar water and no way to get to jello in 30 minutes.
When you make anything with Jello it is important to follow the recipe. If you are just making Jello then note that you need to use both 2 cups of boiling water and 2 cups of cold water. if you do not use both you will not be able to get the Jello to gel.
HOWEVER if you are trying to make Jello jigglers, which are cut out jello pieces that you can handle, you need to follow the recipe that calls for the Jigglers. On a box of Jello you will find the recipe on one of the 6 sides. It requires you to OMIT the 2 cups cold water and to double the concentration of Jello powder. So you will need 2 boxes of 6 oz Jello. If you do not follow these instructions your Jello will not be durable enough to withstand cutting and handling.
Once you have the above done, pour it into a pan and put it in the fridge for at least 3 hours. Once the Jello has set you can take it out. You will then need to place the bottom of this pan into another pan of warm water to release the Jello from sticking to the pan. I used a cookie sheet with sides to do so.
Once this is done you can test the sides by pulling at the sides and see if they easily release.
We used a heart shaped cookie cutter for this and it was a fun project for my kindergartner to do. Note her happy smile in the reflection at the very top photo.
The instructions do not give guidance on getting these shapes carefully out of the pan so here are my tips: remove the negative space first. Pull out the jello surrounding the shapes and set them aside or start eating them! Once the shapes you want are isolated, ensure you have clean and dry hands and use your fingers to pull at the side of the shape and lift it up from the pan. This is your best bet at getting the shapes in tact. If you use a knife, you will find it will not pull up entirely.
Set aside the hearts.
After this, I cut a whole pineapple into slices after removing the exterior skin and then tasked my 2 kids to stamping out hearts with the cookie cutter and a meat tenderizer. Supervision suggested.
This was after gymnastics class. Excuse the blurriness. I love that when I do certain cooking tasks, my kids want to participate. Though it can sometimes be a challenge to offer them tasks they can do in a fair way (they fight over whose turn it is) I do enjoy passing on little kitchen skills that they can assimilate when they get older. It's also hard recently because they crowd me and I now have a full fledged bumpin belly so sometimes I just want to escape and run for the hills but that's when you take a quick break and regroup and find another activity for them to move on to.
After we finished this part, I set them to go play and then I cored and cut up some apple. I placed the apple slices at the bottom of a dish so that the toothpicks could skewer into them. Originally I was thinking of fruit shishkabobs but wasn't sure how to integrate the hearts. I like this method of assembly as they look like hearts with arrows but there are many ways you could do this fruit plate.
I used the pineapple hearts they cut out underneath the jello jigglers to give them some stability when the kids pick them up. I then put toothpics into the hearts and topped them with Concord grapes to protect the kids from the sharp edge of the toothpicks. We will see how and if they manage to pick these up whole. But, anyways, I enjoyed making them, spending time with my kids, and I think they make a cute fruit plate for their Valentine's party!
Drop ideas of other options in the comments! We'll definitely be trying this again next year!