Dipping chocolate projects make wonderful gifts! Or at least a fun activity you can eat! It is perfect for the elderly and can also be done with kids. The examples here can also easily be modified for those who may have limitations.
For your ease, we have prepared a guide for you. Use these chocolate dip ideas to do with the elderly, in conjunction with an upcoming group activity, preparing for a party or special meal, or for making gifts to give away. Or just a treat for yourself!
You can do dipping with a variety of foods such as nuts, cake, cookies, pretzels (tall ones are especially good), apricots, apples, strawberries, etc. Dipping fruit in chocolate is a favorite – but don’t limit yourself.
Things To Dip
Try large pretzels, regular looped pretzels, apple pieces, apricots, strawberries, cookies, pieces of pound cake, etc. Make sure you thoroughly pat dry anything that you wash. Moisture can cause the chocolate to lump or get grainy.
Easy Microwave Dipping Method
By far, the easiest way to make dipping chocolate is by using the ready-made microwavable dipping chocolate that you can buy in a disposable container. This method is probably the easiest for your elderly activities.
One tub of chocolate will cover about 15 to 18 medium sized food items.
- A tub (or two) of microwavable dipping chocolate, either dark or milk chocolate.
- Things to dip – such as large pretzel sticks, regular looped pretzels, apple pieces, apricots, strawberries, pieces of pound cake, etc. Especially for dipping fruit in chocolate, anything that you wash must be patted dry really well. Moisture can cause the chocolate to lump or get grainy.
Cover a platter with wax paper and set aside. Remove the cover from the chocolate container, and microwave for about 50 seconds on medium setting. Stir. After that, heat and stir every 15 seconds. It is important not to overcook so that the mixture does not get stiff and thick.
Just heat until there are a few pieces of chocolate left to melt on their own. Stir until all melted. If your chocolate does get stiff or too thick, it will work to stir in a couple of drops of vegetable oil. Let the chocolate cool for just a minute.
At this point you can begin dipping your items, laying them on wax paper to cool. If you’re using tall pretzels, you can stand 2 or 3 upright in a mug to cool, to prevent them from getting flattened chocolate on one side.
If you are going to decorate, some things should be done while the chocolate is still soft, so the decorations stick — such as adding sprinkles like in these Halloween “magic wands” to the left.
When finished, put the platter into the fridge so the chocolate will harden – at least ½ hour. Remove just before serving – it’s best to keep them cool as long as possible. They can be transferred to a nicer serving platter without wax paper, if you’d like. Pedestal serving trays look wonderful for these. They also look nice on doilies.
Traditional, Home-Made Dipping Chocolate
Many seniors like to make recipes from scratch. So here is a traditional method.
- 2 cups chocolate chips, or small chocolate chunks.
- Try white chocolate for a different look and taste. White chocolate chips are easiest instead of bark.
- 2 Tbsp shortening. (I’ve found that butter or oil can make the mixture become slimy, and more difficult to make the chocolate stick).
In an uncovered double boiler, slowly melt together the chocolate chips and shortening. If you don’t have a double boiler, take a deep skillet, fill with about 3 inches of water, then set a saucepan with your mixture inside the pan of water.
This is an important way to melt the chocolate to avoid burning. Initially you can use medium heat to warm up the burner, but then turn it down to low heat. Make sure no steam leaks out of the double boiler or pan and gets moisture into the chocolate. This can ruin the consistency and it won’t work.
Stir very frequently until almost all melted. Let the last few bits melt on their own. It is important not to overcook, or the consistency can get stiff, overly thick, even lumpy. (If this happens, it may be difficult to fix.
You can try putting in a couple drops of vegetable oil and stir well). Let the mixture cool slightly, but keep it warm for dipping. Then follow the same process for dipping as the above Easy Method.
There are so many ways to decorate, it’s mostly stretching your imagination. Here are a few ideas.
- When chocolate is still warm, roll or dip in shredded coconut.
- Roll or dip in colored sprinkles.
- Drizzle on frosting from a tube to make a swirly striped look.
- Tint white chocolate dip by adding a couple drops of food coloring while the chocolate is still warm. I made pink for one of the pretzels on the right, in the mug.
- Turn them into characters like the ones above (including seasonal characters like for Halloween or Winter). Just add faces from candies, and hats. Bow-shaped noodles make cute bow ties too.
I have also used jiggly eyes from the craft store, but these obviously have to be removed before eating! Using extra chocolate or frosting in a tube as “glue” works great. You can also attach items with halves of toothpicks. (Don’t try to stab a toothpick into a pretzel though – the pretzel will probably crack!)
- You can use small donuts or chocolate Twinkies as stands.
- For gifts, put several dipping chocolate items, with other candies or small gifts, into a decorative box (you can make one as a separate project), a gift bag, or a mug filled with wrapped candies or nuts, and tied with a bow. An especially meaningful gift container is if the participant has a special teacup, mug, box, etc., that they’d like to pass down as a momento or heirloom.
- Make your own gifts tags as another project. An easy example is by bringing in old greeting cards, cutting them into small rectangles with each having part of the greeting card picture on it. Then use the blank back to write your name. You can punch a hole in the top and attach with a ribbon.
Seniors and elderly will munch on pretty much everything they can get their hands on. However, if you were to try some unique and healthy dipping recipes, you can be sure of fighting elderly’s sweet cravings the healthy way. Try the ready to use recommended products as well, especially the DolciFrutta Hard Chocolate, which is both Gluten and Nut free for those who are allergic. Making it a perfect topping for health-conscious elderly.