Teacher appreciation + a baking mama = Smart Cookies.
The teachers just “crumble” when the kids show up with these sweet tokens of appreciation. We have always chosen chocolate chip cookies just because we figure it is liked by most people and has no nuts. For packaging, we hit up one of the nearby pizza places and nicely ask if we may have a few small pizza boxes.
Baking mama + frugality = free pizza boxes.
The pizza places have always been more than happy to give us the boxes with no questions; they consider it free advertising. My kids like the pizza boxes because they like the element of “tricking” their teacher. They imagine that the teachers think the gift is going to be pizza and are amazed when they open the box to find a giant cookie. My youngest just finished kindergarten, and this is her first year with the smart cookie, so she is particularly excited about this part. She decided to leave the top of her box as is to heighten the surprise.
The other two kids decorated the pizza box cover with things they have learned that their teachers like. Joe’s teacher is obsessed with owls, so he drew her an owl and baby. Notice the adorable message: Hooooo is the best teacher ever? Anastasia had a BOY teacher this year, and he loves Batman, so she decorated accordingly. (Just realized I didn’t get a picture of the top of her box. 🙁 )
I decorated the cookie itself with a Happy Summer picture, using a simple buttercream icing. This year I happened to have some fondant daisies left over that I had made recently for my daughter’s Girl Scout Daisy end of the year party and awards, so we “fancied” these cookies up with those. Last year, I just drew elementary daisies with yellow buttercream. My oldest wanted to decorate her teacher’s cookie herself, so she continued with the Batman idea:
The kids look forward to this every year, and now the teachers at their school are beginning to catch on that having one of my kids in class could be really sweet. 🙂
For the cookies:
I used my chocolate chip cookie recipe. To get a mostly circular shape, I drew a circle on parchment paper by tracing around a bowl that was about 6 inches in diameter. I knew the cookies would spread, so I went for 6 inches to be sure they would fit in the box after baking. I turned the parchment paper over and then pressed the cookie dough out as evenly as possible within the the traced circle. I went a little short of the lines, again to account for spreading during baking. To make the cookies uniform in size, I used a cookie scoop and used four scoops pressed together to make each giant cookie. For baking time, I have found that the cookies bake in the same amount of time as my regular size cookies–about 12-13 minutes. They will look under-done at that point, but if you leave them on the pan to cool, they will be perfect in a few more minutes.
For the buttercream:
I just made half of a batch of a simple buttercream recipe and then colored as needed with gel colors. The amounts below are the half batch.
- 1/4 cup solid vegetable shortening
- 1/4 cup butter or margarine, softened
- 1/2 teaspoon clear vanilla extract
- 2 cups sifted powdered sugar
- 1-2 tablespoons milk (to desired consistency)
- In a medium bowl, beat shortening and butter until fully combined and smooth. Beat in vanilla.
- Gradually add sifted sugar, beating well on medium speed. Scrape down bowl as needed.
- Gradually add milk; beat at medium speed until light and fluffy. Scrape down bowl as needed and add additional milk if needed to achieve desired consistency.
- Divide and color as desired.
Source: Buttercream recipe from Wilton