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Chocolate Bugs! A Fun Father's Day Gift to Make at Home

Dads love chocolate, too! Kids can easily make these chocolate and nut bugs just for Dad on his day.
Dads love chocolate, too! Kids can easily make these chocolate and nut bugs just for Dad on his day.

"Come quick Daddy, there are bugs in the refrigerator!" Imagine his surprise when he finds they're made of yummy chocolate ganache and crafted in a wink by the kids for Father's Day! This year, go for the gift he's never received before -- guaranteed.

Here in Sonoma County, there are Father's Day barbecues planned at several vineyards: DeLoach Vineyards, B.R. Cohn Winery, Balletto Vineyards, and Gloria Ferrer to name a few. After the wine.... chocolate!

Ganache is one of the easiest confections to make. When cooled, it can be modeled (like a very sticky clay) and decorated, then returned to the refrigerator to lurk until Dad is home. Kids old enough to stir a pot on the stove for about 5 minutes can handle this kitchen craft for Father's Day on their own (with you in the kitchen to keep an eye on the process). Children as young as 4 can do everything but make the ganache.

First, mix up the ganache the kids will use to make bug bodies. Because it has to cool in the refrigerator, make it the night before. To make ganache and model the same day, allow 3-4 hours for chilling in the freezer.

Chop 4 oz. semi-sweet chocolate chips as small as possible with a sharp knife. If you have a food processor or blender, that's even better. The smaller the pieces, the sooner the chocolate melts. Add chocolate to a cereal-sized bowl. A ceramic or glass bowl will work better than plastic.

Heat cream in a saucepan until it boils. It will take only a few minutes so stay with it. When the bubbles start to climb the walls of the pan, pour cream over the chocolate. Stir with a spoon handle for two minutes. Divide ganache into four small bowls.

Before the kids get started, set up the decorations in individual dishes. Older children can help with the prep. Amounts given are per child. Break 1/2 cup pretzels into pieces, then pick out the curvy bits for kids to use. Pick through a bag of pecan halves to yield 1/4 cup of "whole" halves. Add cake decorations in their shakers or pour a tiny amount in a small dish. Roll out a wax paper work area for each child. Work one bowl of ganache at a time.

  1. Make a bug body: scoop out some ganache with a spoon and scrape it onto the flat side of the nut.
  2. Add pretzel legs: Younger children can work flat on the wax paper. Set the ganache-side down and poke pretzel pieces into the ganache to make legs. Older kids can flip over the nut (ganache side up) and poke legs into the bottom, then set it gently on its "legs."
  3. Decorate: Sprinkle (or pick up and place) cake decorating bits. Rotate the wax paper for younger children, so they can work on the next bug without disturbing their first. Older kids can carefully pick up and place their bugs in a cupcake paper.
  4. Refrigerate: After about 10 minutes, move finished bugs to the refrigerator. Pick up the whole wax paper for a younger child; slide it onto a baking sheet to move. If the bowl of ganache is starting to soften, swap it with one of the extra bowls in the refrigerator so kids can keep working. When the kids are done, bring out all the bugs and take a photo! Bugs that are flat on the wax paper can be lifted now with a spatula and placed in a cupcake paper.
  5. Surprise him: If Dad likes practical jokes, the kids will get a kick out of telling him there are bugs in the refrigerator. Or, arrange cupcake papers in a clean shallow tin or box, wrap in plastic wrap (so he can see the bugs), and tie up with a ribbon. Stored in a closed container in the refrigerator, bugs keep for up to one week. 

TIP: This is a great group activity for your Father's Day get-together! Prep all the ingredients in advance. Set up the pretzels and decorations in muffin tin compartments. Provide each child with a plastic placemat or wax paper sheet to work on. Bugs can top a cake or cupcakes, too!



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