OK: Who else cringes every December when your child comes home and says: "Mom, can we give cookies to Mrs. ‘My-Favorite-Teacher’ for Christmas"? Then the clincher, "And can I help you make them?"
With everything else going on in December – the end of basketball season (times two!), holiday concerts, making/buying/wrapping/sending presents to family far away, shopping for family and friends nearby – I’d rather pay my few dollars toward a group gift for a teacher and be done with it. But when your 8-year-old comes to you asking for something special for her teacher, it’s hard to turn her down (without feeling guilty, right?).
In the past, I’ve had my kids do something easy, like put the bow on the plate of goodies. But more recently I’ve stumbled on holiday cookies that are not only easy to make, but your kids can actually help you make them. And they really will be HELPING; not making a bigger mess that you’ll have to clean up later.
Ah, now I’ve got your attention. Let me add more interest – the cookies have inexpensive ingredients, make dozens in minutes and they travel well. That’s right: When your kid crams them in her backpack, even after you’ve told her not to, the treats will still arrive intact at school (as long as she doesn’t sit on them in the bus).
No, I don’t send my child off to the Kroger pastry shop for an afternoon with a baker there. Instead, I follow in the steps of the semi-homemade diva Sandra Lee and add some dazzle to store-bought cookies. I can’t believe I’m about to reveal my go-to cookie dish (seriously, I made them this weekend for a holiday get-together and everyone kept asking my recipe. I just smiled and changed the subject).
I find coconut cookies at the dollar store. (Yes, Dollar Tree. Sometimes they don’t have them so I resort to Oreos, but the coconut cookies really are key.) The cookies come in packs of three-dozen rectangular bars.
At home, I melt white candy coating and let my kids dip the cookies into the coating, then the coconut. (I’ve tried to make the cookies fancier by using real white chocolate – trust me, it just doesn’t melt as well and tastes awful.) If you want to get really festive, you can color the coconut with green food coloring, but I think they look best white. And it’s easier.
Lay them out on waxed paper to firm up, and you’re done. I can make 36 cookies in 15 minutes, start to finish. That’s enough for three or four teachers! Plus, added cool-mom points: My children really helped me.
Note: If your kids hate coconut, you can try the double-dip method with just about any store-bought cookie – Chips Ahoy! paired with holiday sprinkles, or lemon shortbread with dried ginger or coconut. They’re all good to the last crumb!