Giving an apple to the teacher is a time-honored tradition, but for just that reason it’s not very original. When you want to show the teacher in your life some appreciation, dip into your bag of awesome and take apples to a whole different level. Creative apple-themed teacher treats can be a lot more fun, for both you and your favorite educator.
Pick a good sugar cookie or shortbread cookie recipe, tasty but durable enough to survive the trip to school. Roll the cookies to their best thickness — usually 1/4 inch to 1/8 inch — and cut them with an apple-shaped cookie cutter, available from kitchenware stores or online retailers.
Adding Some Color
Good cookies are a step up from a plain ol’ apple, but they aren’t special yet. Take them further by frosting them in apple-y shades of red and green. Royal icing dries to a satiny sheen, like the skin of an apple, so it’s a good choice.
Royal Icing Recipe at FoodandWine.com
The Last Little Details
For extra credit, press a whole clove into each cookie to represent the stem. You can embed it into the cookie dough before it’s baked to add a faint aroma to the finished cookie or “glue” it in place with the icing afterward.
Portable Apple Crumble
Apple crumble is a great dessert for home, but its shapelessness makes it inconvenient as a lunchtime treat. You can fix that by preparing single-portion servings for your favorite teacher in individual ramekins with snap-on lids or in wide-mouth, half-cup canning jars. Canning jars are easier to find, and they’ll leave more latitude to express yourself with decorations.
Setting It Up
Slice your apples, ideally a mixture of tart and sweet varieties, and toss them with a small amount of quick-thickening instant flour to absorb the juices as they cook. Pack the apples into the jars — they’ll shrink as they bake, so don’t be shy — then cover them with the crumble topping.
Keep it healthy by using a sugar/sucralose blend in place of the topping’s brown sugar, and add rolled oats for their beneficial fiber. Bake the crumble until the apples are tender and the topping is golden brown.
Decorating the Jars
Plain old jars aren’t that appealing, but that’s where your creativity comes in. Cut rounds of old-fashioned gingham to cover the lids and wrap the rings with ribbon. Use the same fabric to wrap around the jar and tie with a rustic ribbon or twine for a finished look. Alternatively, snip apple images from thrift-store books and magazines, then decoupage them onto the jar lids.
Baked Treats with Applesauce
“I shall not blow the teacher’s diet. I shall not blow the teacher’s diet.” Write that out 100 times. Or use unsweetened applesauce in place of oil to make low-fat, guilt-free treats. Mix up a batch of your favorite muffin or cake batter but substitute applesauce for the oil. It adds moisture and flavor while taking away fat and calories. You can even use this technique with cake mixes if you’re pressed for time.
The only real downside is that oil softens your baked goods, and applesauce doesn’t. That means the end result can be a bit chewy unless you adjust your recipe on the fly. Use low-gluten cake flour instead of all-purpose flour or add an extra egg yolk and cut back the other liquids by a few tablespoons. In some recipes, it’s best to only replace one-half or one-third of the oil with applesauce for the best results.
Include a recipe card or printed page from your favorite recipe site along with the cake or muffins that explains how to use applesauce in low-fat baking. After all, educational opportunities run both ways.
Wrapping It Up
After putting out the effort to make unusual and distinctive apple treats, don’t sell out when it’s time to send them to school. A foil-covered plate just won’t cut it, and a generic gift bag doesn’t do justice to your sense of style. Instead, consider a more durable and practical alternative …
Tote Your Treats
This Personal Creations quilted, monogrammed tote is a stylish alternative to disposable packaging. It’s custom and chic — and large enough to carry school supplies after your teacher enjoys those tasty treats.Whether you choose cookies, cakes or crumbles, the sweet results will show your family cares.
We could get a whole semester out of apple-themed treats, but we’d rather leave that up to you. Don’t be shy, brag a little. Use the comments to share your most apple-icious efforts with the rest of the class. C’mon, now…let’s not see all the same hands!