It's been a tradition of mine to bake chocolate chip cookies (with red and green M&M's for a festive touch) for presents since high school. (Scroll down to the bottom of this post for the recipe.)
Back home with a regular big oven that can bake something like 50 cookies at once, it only took me about an 1.5hr to make around 100 cookies, but here in Japan all I've got is a regular toaster oven and a two-tier toaster oven. I can only make about 25 cookies in one shot so it takes me about 2.5hr to make a batch of about 70-100 cookies.
Still, that's an improvement from my first two years in Japan when I only had a regular toaster oven and it took me 3hr to make a single batch. (If I make multiple batches at once, the time savings are even more noticeable.)
Since this is my last year on JET I decided to be super ambitious and to give cookies to pretty much all of the schools I've visited regularly this year (thankfully there aren't so many--2 junior highs, and 4 elementary schools) as well as my Board of Education, Japanese dance teacher, and taiko group members.
Tue. Dec. 6- 2.5hr for 67 cookies
Sun. Dec. 11 - 6hr for 281 cookies
Mon. Dec. 12 - 4hr for 189 cookies
Mon. Dec. 19 - 2.5hr for 89 cookies
Total = 15hr over 4 days for 626 cookies
It was an insane amount of work, especially since I also had the JLPT (where I flunked the N1 spectacularly) and English Day (two days of activities from 9am~4pm with 60 elementary 5th and 6th graders and junior high school students) in December.
But it was totally worth it. Some of my highlights from giving out cookies were:
1) at an elementary school, the student I was sitting next to during lunch noticed that I didn't have any cookies for myself and asked "Sensei, hitokuchi wa doudesuka?" (Sensei, would you like a bite of my cookie?). Of course I declined since I had had plenty sampling each batch to make sure they were OK, but it was soooo sweet of the student to offer. ^_^
2) at Kirita, after I gave out the cookies to the 3rd years, one of the students commented that they looked forward to the cookies all year (ichinenkan no tanoshimi--or something along those lines). And another student asked me for the recipe. =D
There's really nothing better than the feeling that you've brightened up someone's day even just a little.