Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Teachers Gifts

Each year I'm a bit stumped as to what to give those who take care of my kids. I think all the apple themed teacher things are super cute but I know other moms think so too. I'm guessing that after the first year of teaching, teachers have hit their limit of apple/ruler/chalkboard resin collectibles. With the economy being as it is, our car deciding that it's needed mulitple major surgeries over the last couple of months and my kids needing actual winter clothes I decided to be inventive (read: cheap). And I went with the edible thing so that I'm not contributing to the never ending pile of "stuff" that we all seem to accumulate.

Here's what the kids are giving out: a Christmas mug with a packet of cocoa, chocolate dipped spoons with crushed candycanes and candied almonds. Wanna see how I did it? Lucky you I took pictures.

First thing: get all your stuff together. A bunch of almonds from the bulk bins at your local whole foods or equivalent. The recipe calls for unblanched but I just get the regular roasted, UNsalted kind. Sugar. An egg (I like to get the cage free kind because I'm all sensitive to the chicken's happiness and whatnot). Cinnamon. Ground cloves. Nutmeg.

Set your oven to 300ºF.

While your oven is warming up, separate your egg cause you're only going to use the white. As best as you can, get a Tablespoon of that egg white and plop it in a bowl. Get 2 cups of your almonds and dump them in there and stir, stir, stir until your almonds are all shiny and covered in egg goop.

Ya know, I 'fixed' this picture at least three times but it's not cooperating, so if you want, you can tilt your head to the side to make it look right. Next, add 1/4 cup of sugar, 2 teaspoons of ground cinnamon, 1/4 tsp of nutmeg and 1/4 tsp of cloves and stir it all together.

Pour your dry mixed ingredients over your shiny almonds and stir well, making sure every little nut is covered in sugary goodness.

Dump them onto an ungreased cookie sheet (I like the Silpat because it means less cleanup for me!), making sure that they're in a single layer.

Pop them in the oven and set the timer for 30 minutes.

While you're waiting, you can either go on to the next part of the recipe or do something way more fun like facebook, read an issue of People, or read my blog. Just a suggestion.

When they're done, let them cool if you can resist and then store the ones you're not giving away in an airtight container.

Here's how we're going to make the spoons. They're super easy. Easy peasy.

You'll need a microwave safe glass container, plastic spoons (or metal if you have money to spare), baker's chocolate and/or chocolate chips and a box of candy canes.

Take out a couple of candy canes and unwrap them. Stick em in a ziplock bag. Get a rolling pin, meat tenderizer, mallet, Wii controller, whatever, just something to whack the heck out of the canes. Smash them to bits, but not too much or you'll just have candy cane powder. You still want the pieces to look pretty when you're done. Pour your candy pieces into a bowl and have a spoon ready to sprinkle the pieces onto your chocolate spoons.

Get another cookie sheet or jelly roll pan and line it with wax paper.

Put your chocolate in your glass bowl and microwave at 50 power for a minute. Take it out and stir it. Yes, even if it's not even close to melting, stir it anyway. Stick it back in the microwave for 30 second intervals stirring each time. The chocolate will NOT look ready even when it is. Just stir stir stir until it is smooth and glossy. If you overcook it, throw it out. It's done. You need more chocolate. Toss a piece into your mouth for good measure.

Dip a spoon into the chocolate lava and use an extra spoon to get some onto the neck of the spoon. Tap off the extra and move it over to the candy cane bowl, sprinkling the broken mixture onto the wet chocolate. Put your spoon onto the cookie sheet and move on to the next one.

Here's what mine looked like when I was done:

Stick the whole pan of spoons in the fridge for 15 minutes to set the chocolate. Let them come to room temperature before you wrap them up.

Here's the mugs, the cello wrappers for the almonds and my box of cocoa before assembly.

I took each spoon and wrapped it in plastic wrap, tied off with metallic green curling ribbon. The candied almonds are neatly wrapped in their bags and everything fits nicely in the mugs!
Happy gift giving! If you decide to borrow my idea, will you let me know? Wonder if my kids teachers read my blog...

1 comment:

Jenna said...

that is an awesome gift!! I would love something like that, as opposed to some apply/teachery things. :) Good job. ;)