Yes, you can play with your food and eat it too.
Edible food crafts have a long history. During medieval times, feasts often had an entremet or subtlety between courses—and always had one at the end of the meal. They were always edible and very elaborate. You might find a castle made of bread or cake walls, and with little marzipan figures fighting a battle. Even if you’re not cooking a feast for two hundred, you can make craft edible food decorations yourself, and wow your guests like medieval cooks.
Crafting Sweet Edible Foods
There are a number of different types of edible crafts. Ever make a traditional gingerbread house? While we see them at Christmas, there is no reason not to make them all year around, with frosting colors and decorations for the season. Shingle your roof with sliced almonds.
Marzipan, that awesome almond dough, can be rolled and pinched into almost any shape, from fruit or vegetables to this recipe, which makes marzipan snow people. Color your marzipan with food coloring or a small amount of icing paste. Use marzipan shapes near gingerbread houses, whether as people or vegetables. Make corn shucks from pretzels for a fall or harvest house. Little red balls with a whole clove pushed into the end make a realistic apple.
Kids can make an easy version of an edible house using graham cracker squares, frosting and candy. Sometimes building the house around a half pint milk box will make the structure easier to manage.
You may have also participate in a cookie decorating party over the holidays. When making the cookies, poke a straw through the dough near the top, so there is a hole after it is baked. When the decorating is done, thread a ribbon though the cookies and hang them up — instant edible ornaments!
Non-Sweet Edible Food Crafts
Medieval food crafts weren’t always sweet. Meat was shaped and had pie crust scales added to make a dragon. Bread rolls could be boulders, or a hollowed out loaf might represent a cave.
Try taking meatloaf mixture, putting foil on a cookie sheet, and forming the meat into different shapes. Kids can help pick the shape and form a fish, a heart, a Christmas tree shape or pumpkin. Use a butter knife to sculpt you shape. For instance, to make a ship, create a triangle for the sail and a curve for the bottom of the boat. Make your artwork roughly the same thickness, so it finishes cooking at one time. Let everyone have fun guessing the shape before cutting it.
Turtle bread is great for a kids party table. Take a round bread loaf, cut out the center and put it aside, and fill the cavity with the dip of your choice. Chop up the bread you removed into chunks for dipping. Consider making bread yourself, and add a head, legs and a tail of dough before you bake it, so you serve your dip in the back of a turtle.
And finally, when you make your crudités to use in your dip, be creative with your knife and the vegetables. Decorate the tray with radish roses. Make stick figure men from celery strips by scoring a line half way down to split for legs, and a shorter split at right angles. Put a thin piece of celery or carrot stick crossways for arms. Put up a carrot pillar with a flat bottom. Slice green peppers across the center into scalloped rings, and have your miniature celery men seem to play a giant game of ring toss. Since celery men are not terribly good at balancing, they could lean back against a small stone wall built from sliced cucumbers.
There are also creative ways to set up your tray as a football field. Use celery goalposts for the celery players to score with a radish. Surround these tray centerpieces with plenty of vegetables cut in the usual fashion.