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Sunday, September 23, 2012

Gifts Kids Can Make

Peanut butter cookies with m&m's and chocolate...
Peanut butter cookies with m&m's and chocolate chips (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
By Juvy S. Iliwiliw

Here are some easy cookie treats that are as much fun to make as they are to give away. They can be made by children aged seven and up with minimal adult supervision. Younger kids can also work on these recipe but will need more assistance. These cookies make great giveaways for friends, classmates, and relatives during the Christmas season and other occasions, but they also make a good weekend activity for your kids.



LOLLIPOP COOKIES

½ cup butter, softened

½ cup sugar
1 egg
½ teaspoon vanilla
¼ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1½ cups flour
Lollipop sticks (available at baking supply stores)

In a mixing bowl, combine the butter and sugar until well mixed. Blend in the egg and vanilla. Add the salt, baking powder and flour, mixing well. Turn the dough out on a counter lightly sprinkled with flour. Roll out the dough ¼-inch thick and cut into desired shapes with cookie cutters. Bake at 350oF for 10-15 minutes or until lightly browned. When done, immediately insert the lollipop sticks gently into the middle of the cookies (if the sticks are made of plastic, which is often the case, do not bake the cookies with them). Let the cookies cool completely before decorating.

DECORATING ICING

1½ - 2 cups powdered sugar
1 - 2 tablespoon water

Combine the powdered sugar with just enough water to produce an icing that holds its shape when squeezed through an icing bag. (You can find inexpensive icing bags or syringe-type icing applicators in department store kitchenware sections or big supermarkets, or use a sandwich bag with a tiny hole snipped from one corner.) Tint the icing in different colors using just a drop or two of food coloring. After decorating cookies, let icing harden until set.

Let the icing to dry to a hard finish so that you can easily pack the cookies for gift giving!

Individual: Wrap cookies individually in clear cellophane or insert them into small plastic bags (like sandwich or ice bags) and fasten with a ribbon around the lollipop stick.

Edible Bouquet: If you cut the cookies into flower shapes, you may want to stick the lollipops into a small clay or plastic flower pot that has been filled with styrofoam cut to fit. Cover the pot with wrapping paper and tie with a ribbon.


NO BAKE COOKIE BALLS

Here's a recipe suitable for every young kids - just mix and shape into balls! It's important that the graham crackers be finely crashed; use a food processor or the back of a spoon to pulverize them. Otherwise, you can also buy graham crackers already in crumb form in the supermarket.

1 cup finely crushed graham crackers
1/3 cup condensed milk
½ cup chopped nuts

In a mixing bowl, combine the graham crackers, chocolate chips and condensed milk. Form into 1-inch balls and roll in chopped nuts. Chill to set before packaging.

Packaging ideas: Put the cookies in clear disposable plastic containers, or in plastic jars. If using the latter, you can hide the typical yellow lid by wrapping it loosely with colorful tissue and gathering it up with a bow on top. You can also use clear sandwich bags, tied up with a colorful ribbon.


GUESS-WHAT'S INSIDE BUTTER COOKIES

Hide different treats inside these colorful butter balls - Hershey's Kisses, chocolate chips, cherries, nuts, or dates.

¾ cup butter, softened
¼ cup sugar
½ teaspoon vanilla or almond flavoring
2 cups flour
Red and green food coloring
Assorted fillings (Hershey's Kisses, chocolate chips, maraschino or candied cherries, whole walnuts or cashews, dates cut into small pieces, etc.)
Powdered sugar

In a mixing bowl, combine the butter, sugar, vanilla or almond flavoring and flour until well blended. Divide the dough into three parts. Leave one part plain, then tint one part pale pink and one part pale green using just a couple of drops of food coloring. Knead the dough well to distribute the color evenly. Get a tablespoon of dough, make a depression in it and put the filling of your choice. Cover the filling completely with the dough and roll into a ball. Set on ungreased baking sheets and bake at 350oF for 10-15 minutes, or until bottoms are browned. The tops of the cookies will not brown. Let cool, then roll the balls in powdered sugar.

Packaging ideas: Put the cookies in clear disposable plastic containers, or in plastic jars. If using the latter, you can hide the typical yellow lid by wrapping it loosely with colorful tissue and gathering it up with a bow on top. You can also use clear sandwich bags, tied up with a colorful ribbon.

CHOCOLATE SHORTBREAD

Just be sure to use butter and not margarine for a really good flavor.


¾ cup butter, softened
½ cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 2/3 cups flour
1/3 cup cocoa
¼ teaspoon salt

In a mixing bowl, combine the butter, sugar and vanilla, then blend in the flour and cocoa. Pat or roll the dough out ½-inch thick on a lightly floured surface and cut into shapes using small cookie cutters (simple designs like stars or hearts are best; dough is not pliable enough for large shapes). Place on an ungreased baking sheet and bake at 350oF for about 10-15 minutes. Watch carefully as these cookies are dark, so it's hard to tell when they have "browned" underneath! If your oven temperature is correct, 15 minutes should be maximum.


FUNNY FACE COOKIES

½ cup butter, softened
½ cup dark brown sugar
½ cup teaspoon vanilla
1 egg
1 2/3 cups flour
½ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
Assorted toppings (cashew nuts, colored candies like M&Ms, raisins, maraschino cherries, chocolate sprinkles, pretzels, etc.)

In a mixing bowl, blend together the butter, brown sugar, vanilla, and egg. Add the flour, baking soda and salt and mix well. Get a tablespoonful of dough and shape into a ball. Flatten the ball into a circle with the palm of your hand or an ungreased baking sheet. Use assorted toppings to create funny faces (i.e., cashew nuts for "smiling" or "sad" mouths or eyebrows, cherries for the nose, raisins fro the eyes, colored candies or chocolate sprinkles for hair). Try to make a variety of faces that are mad, sad happy sleepy or surprised. Bake at 350oF for about 15 minutes or until browned underneath. Cool completely before removing from pan.
















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