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There was one item on my daughter's Christmas list that was mentioned over and over again. She even managed to ask Santa on two different occasions for a "chocolate lolly maker".
Just before Christmas this chocolate lolly maker by John Adams seemed to be very popular and the price shot up from around £17 to approx £25. I managed to get the last one on the shelf in our local large toy superstore a week before Christmas so we had a very happy four year old on Christmas morning.
In the box you receive a plastic contraption in feminine shades of pink and purple, lolly sticks, moulds, word stamps, foil wrappers and some ribbon.
The idea of the set is to be able to make pretty chocolate lollies for you and friends to enjoy. There is no chocolate included in this kit but suggests using a well known brand of chocolate buttons.
First impressions the set looks quite sturdy. The set up really acts as a station for storing the moulds and stamps before acting as a machine to wrap the lolly in a wrapper at the end of the process.
To make it safe for children to use, the machine provides what looks like a small plastic bath that can be filled with hot water and this will then melt the chocolate.
I found this part of the set to be the worst performance wise. Even with almost boiling water, the chocolate didn't melt very quickly so I end up melting the chocolate over boiling water and a jug which takes away the independence from my daughter slightly, but otherwise I feel we would be waiting for too long each time we wanted to make some lollies.
You receive four different lolly moulds, a flower, heart, horse and rabbit shape. These are supplemented by word stamps in the form of "thank you", "I love you" etc. Plenty to choose from if you want to add a sentiment to your lolly.
The moulds are made from a decent strength silicone. They are designed to have a space for the lolly stick to be inserted and then clipped in. Sadly being silicone and bendy we found that the sticks wouldn't sit in the mould perfectly and needed a bit of assistance. When left the stick would almost float during the early part of the setting process and would come away from the mould.
Each mould makes a lolly in around a 5cm diameter. This is a nice size for a child's lolly without it appearing and being too big.
Once your chocolate is melted, it's a simple process to pour into the moulds. We found it was easier to make all four in one go, and using half a bar of value chocolate broken up into tiny pieces, we realised this was just enough to make four lollies.
Once the chocolate is almost at the rim of the moulds, then add in your stick and secure with the strap and as above, keep until the chocolate just starts to go off slightly.
You can put these lollies in the fridge or freezer depending on how quickly you want them to set. The first time we made these lollies we made the mistake of placing in the freezer, removing after the recommended time of ten minutes to stamp our wording onto the lolly. By this time the chocolate had set hard and the stamp didn't make any indentation at all, so I recommend using the fridge if you want to add sentiment to the lolly.
The setting process takes around fifteen minutes in the freezer before they can be removed from the moulds and placed upright in the machine ready to be wrapped.
The idea of wrapping the lolly is to place in a foil bag provided and then, ensuring the foil bag is below the closure line in the machine, you will be able to turn the handle which twists the lolly giving the foil bag a good seal at the base. Finish by tying off with a ribbon and you have a pretty lolly in a bag.
In reality we found that the lolly didn't twist very well unless you were watching what you were doing and the lolly had been placed well inside the machine. The only reason you have to tie off with a ribbon is if you are giving the lolly as a gift, otherwise we found just placing in the foil bag was enough and then we could re-use the bags the next time.
The lolly sticks are designed to be reused but this is really only suitable if you are not giving them as gifts. Despite being able to wash up and make hygienic again, lolly sticks have a tendency to be nibbled by children so the thought isn't an attractive one to me to re-use.
Overall my daughter has been very pleased with this toy, and she is always wanting to make lollies. From a parents perspective, I think the toy is quite expensive for a piece of plastic, but it does promote some independence in the kitchen, and lets the imagination flow so it gets good marks from me in that department.
Despite the annoying little quirks with the machine and the fact you will have to buy supplies after a while which will no doubt be difficult to purchase and expensive for what you want, I do think this is a nice present idea.