Friday, 23 September 2016

Can they pull it out of the bag? The ‘Lucky dip dessert’ challenge

School holidays and it was my turn on the child-care swap rota: Four girls. Six hours. Wet weather. Small town. No car. Tight budget. I was going to need more than a smile and a tube of Smarties to sail through this one. I screwed up my brain really tight and squeezed an idea out just in time. “We’re going to have a 'Lucky dip dessert' competition,” I told the girls...

Two teams of two. Each team has to choose and buy a random selection of sweet items in the supermarket for the other team. The challenge is to make the best desserts you can from the items you're given! Then I’ll put photos of the desserts on my Facebook page for a ‘live’ vote. Whoever’s desserts get the most ‘Likes’ is the winning team!

The rules
You can spend up to £3.50.
● You must buy at least 5 items.
● Include something SOLID (e.g. biscuits, cake, chocolate bar), something SOFT (e.g. mousse, cream, mousse) and at least one FRUIT (fresh or other). Don’t include anything that has to be cooked or prepared (e.g. get a pot of jelly, not squares of jelly) or that will melt (i.e. ice-cream!).
● Don't let the other team see what you're buying – keep it as a surprise for them!
● You must use some of EVERY item in the bag you're given to make your desserts.
● Think up names for your desserts .

I nudged them into pairing up so that there was a younger and older girl on each team to make it fair and jiggle friendship dynamics a bit. Then they gave themselves names – Team Awesome and Team Terrific – and we set off for the supermarket.

I watched them from a distance.Dodging each other in the aisles to keep their buys secret. Totting up prices in their heads with scrunched-up faces. Slavering over the sprinkles shelf. Swapping and switching items to get the most they could with their £3.50.Their delight at the price of Basics biscuits. Their shock at the price of squirty cream.
And finally, queuing up at the checkout and paying ever-so-politely like mini-housewives on a serious mission.
“That was really nerve-wracking!” said one of the younger girls afterwards. “I’ve never paid on my own before.”

Back at home, it was time to swap shopping bags. “Ooh...argh...good...nooo...” they squeaked as they examined the contents.
Here were the items Team Awesome had to work with.
And these were Team Terrific's. "Tic-tacs?!” they said, not sure whether to be pleased or peeved.
To prevent them plunging straight into a sugary gunge, I suggested they design their desserts on paper first. “Think of it as food art,” I told them. “You want your desserts to look good.”
And then they got stuck in, snapping, grating, bashing, layering...
Although there was lots of aesthetics and ingenuity going on (who knew cutting chocolate biscuits with a star-shaped cookie cutter would work?!), I also sensed the same, simple, sensual pleasure a toddler gets from making mud-cakes in the garden!
And the ideas just kept coming, until each team had a range of desserts, ready to be named, labelled and arranged for a photo shoot.

So, let me introduce to you the creations of Team Terrific...
...versus the creations of Team Awesome...
I put the pictures on Facebook with the heading VOTE NOW! (with 'vote closes at 4pm', the time the girls were going home) and we watched, excitedly, as the votes immediately started coming in.
Ooh, green was taking an early lead...but would purple catch up?

While we waited, we all picked one dessert to try... erm, let's just say, the pleasure was in the making rather than the eating. Turns out bashed-up ginger biscuits in chocolate mousse with jelly tots on top isn't such a great combo after all.

Incredibly, the final score was a tie: 10:10. But what do you think? Which is your favourite?!


  1. oh so nice idea:) and very informative for kids

  2. Oh wow, what an incredible idea! And those desserts look fab. Thanks for linking with #FabFridayPost

  3. This is incredible! I love this idea! They both look great fun and tasty too! Thank you so much for linking up with us on #FabFridayPost