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Merry Making: Candy Cane and Gingerbread Homemade Play Dough

December 9, 2011

So yesterday? It was a doozy. I looked at the calendar on Wednesday night and realized that we had exactly 3 whole days left from then until Christmas with a blank-calendar-slate where we didn’t have a single place to be between school, my work schedule and normal activities.  I had big plans of a holiday-inspired pajama day full of gingerbread houses and Christmas-y play dough and baking treats and hot chocolate.  I also had sugarplum dreams of squeezing in cleaning and laundry.

It didn’t really work out.

The two-year-old decided to make it his worst day of the year so far and we spent most of the day with kids screaming and fighting and whining and  in time-outs. We finally got to the gingerbread houses by about 4 in the afternoon and nothing else on the list got accomplished. We tried to salvage the day with kids running around naked before bedtime and laying under the tree for a while followed by laying in bed singing Christmas songs together. It helped.

I added this play dough to my list of 50 Things To Do With Kids in December thinking I’d make it in red green and white with glitter, but decided to get a little more crazy with it and instead make Candy Cane play dough.  Then I sat down to relax last night and opened Ohdeedoh to find a link to this fun post with  gingerbread play dough – BEST IDEA EVER! So maybe it was fate that I didn’t make it yesterday so that I could make the gingerbread version, too??

(Side note – you guys got the memo that we’re not actually doing all of that stuff on the list this month, right? I just started a list and it ran away with me, so I wanted to share to give other people some ideas, too. Not to give the impression that I intend to go on some crazy Christmas binge and squeeze every crazy morsel of unattainable activity level out of the month! Just wanted to make sure we were clear on that:)

The play dough: I made 3 batches of this recipe. One I left white, one I made red and one I made gingerbread.  I used a recipe I found in my mom’s recipe box forever ago as the main dough and added other stuff in later. The red batch got food coloring and eucalyptus added into it as it cooked on the stove, the white batch got cooked just plain with the eucalyptus added and the gingerbread batch had the spices added in while it cooked.  They all had the glitter added later, though after re-rereading the post from The Creative Mama, it occurred to me that I could have just stirred them in while it was cooking, too. I also could have just made one massive batch of the recipe tripled and added the colors and scents and spices and glitter later. But that would have been too easy…

Basic Play Dough Recipe:

-1 cup Flour

-2 teaspoons Cream of Tartar

-1/2 cup Salt

-1 tablespoon Vegetable Oil

-1 cup Water

-Parchment paper or a clean surface for kneading play dough

-Additions for the candy cane version:  red food coloring(it takes a lot), a few drops of a mint oil – peppermint would be nice, red and silver glitter

-Additions for the gingerbread version: 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice blend, 2 teaspoons cinnamon, 1 teaspoon ground ginger, silver glitter

To Make the Dough:

  1. Add flour, salt and cream of tartar (plus add-ins for that specific batch, such as food coloring or spices) to a sauce pan and whisk without heat to mix(and save a bowl from getting dirty).
  2. Put out a piece of parchment paper(or prep a clean, dry area) nearby for cooling and kneading the dough when it’s ready.
  3. Add oil and water to the dry ingredients.
  4. Turn heat on medium low and start whisking (make sure you’re ready – once you turn the heat on and start stirring, don’t walk away or stop stirring!)
  5. Stir until smooth and the mixture starts to thicken.
  6. When it starts to thicken, turn the heat up a bit to medium and switch to a spatula instead of a whisk for moving dough around.
  7. Keep cooking the dough until it forms a dough that pulls away from the edges of the pan and no longer has that feeling of gooey wetness to it. I’m assuming that if you’re making this, you’ve played with play dough at some point in your life, so just feel the dough and make sure it has the right texture to work with and isn’t too wet before you take it out.
  8. Turn the dough out onto the parchment paper and let it cool enough to handle. (It you take it out and it feels too tacky for playing, just put it back in for another minute until the texture feels right.)
  9. When the dough is cool enough to handle, sprinkle with glitter (Lots! Don’t skimp!), then knead into the mixture until the dough is smooth and all of the glitter is mixed through evenly.
  10. Play!

4 Comments leave one →
  1. plymwife permalink
    December 10, 2011 4:30 am

    We made playdoh this time last week, for my daughter and my class. It has been such a big hit. Even my nearly 9 year old has been playing away making cookies with it for over an hour this morning. Such a fun thing to do – even if you don’t get the rest of your list done!

  2. December 10, 2011 10:46 pm

    Wow the play dough looks so yummy! I love all your holiday crafts too. So awesome you went and cut your own tree. I’m adding it to my life to do list too!

  3. December 11, 2011 3:07 pm

    A tip I thought I would pass along: I wouldn’t recommend tripling the recipe – I tried that the other day, and it was really hard to get the flour to mix in smoothly without any lumps! I didn’t have any trouble with it when I did one batch at a time. Thanks for your post!


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