These acorns aren't for the squirrels

The little girl surprised her mom with a sweet treat.

Joanne Ciccarello/Staff
For fall: These three-ingredient treats are so simple to make, even a child can do it. But they look clever and taste good.

Emily's Acorn Treats

1 bag Hershey's Kisses

1 box of mini vanilla wafers

1 tub of ready-to-use frosting (caramel, butter cream, or white)

Unwrap the candy kisses. Lightly frost the top of each mini vanilla wafer. Place a kiss on top. Eat and enjoy!

"Are you making a grocery list?" my daughter Emily asked. "Don't forget to buy Hershey's Kisses and mini vanilla wafers."

Spying my coupon caddy, she knew that it was shopping time, but usually she doesn't care about meal planning and grocery shopping, even for desserts.

I raised my eyebrows, suspicious of her request. "Why do you need cookies and chocolate?" I asked. "Is this for school?"

"You'll see," she said with a grin. "I need frosting, too. I'm gonna make you a surprise."

"Write what you need on a Post-it," I said, promising nothing.

Later, as I pushed my grocery cart past rows of orange gourds; crisp, red McIntosh apples; and fresh pumpkin muffins, my heart began to soften. Fall's festive spirit permeated the store: A smiling scarecrow pointed to bins of orange and yellow candy corn and neatly dipped caramel apples.

Maybe I should go ahead and pick up Emily's ingredients, I thought, noticing that the chocolate kisses, festively costumed in silver, burnt orange, and red foil wrappers, were on sale. As I thought back to earlier that morning, ("Brush your teeth! Your hair is a mess!" I had uncharacteristically yelled) I felt guilty.

So I located vanilla wafers and a tub of frosting and added them to the candy kisses in my buggy. Again, I wondered what Emily had brewing.

"I bought your candies and cookies," I announced as Emily and her sister ran through the front door after school.

"You did?" Emily said, her eyes glowing. "Hurray!"

After checking to make sure I'd brought home the right things, she said, "Mama, you can't watch, OK? I'm going to make you a surprise, so you need to go in the other room. Julia can help peel the wrappers off the kisses."

Pushing me out of the way, Emily handed the candies to her little sister. Julia beamed, pleased to be included in this secret mission.

Busying myself with laundry, I heard giggles, whispers, and laughter as the sisters scurried like mice around the kitchen.

"We're not ready yet!" they squealed when I dashed by with some freshly folded towels. Closing my eyes, I played along, but sneaked a quick peek at the kitchen counter – now covered with acorn-shaped cookie creations.

"We're ready, mama!" the girls shouted, jumping up and down.

They presented me with a plate overflowing with little chocolate kisses sitting atop miniature vanilla wafer cookies, like pointy witch hats.

"They're acorns! For fall!" Emily said, beaming. "My teacher brought some to school. She said they'd be fun to make at home."

"Wow, these are really clever," I said, smiling and sampling a few. "They're yummy, too."

Ignoring the frosting-covered countertop, I focused on Julia's big chocolatey grin.

"My assistant took off all the wrappers!" Emily bragged. "I spread the frosting and stuck on the kisses."

As I sat at the kitchen table with my daughters, eating too many acorn treats, I realized that, like chocolate, this moment should be savored.

After all, how often do my girls actually work together, cooperating in a joint venture without whining, complaining, or crying? How often do we take the time to laugh together? And how often are they allowed to indulge in a sweet treat?

For once, I was wise enough to step back and let my daughters take the lead. The result? Something surprisingly delicious.

It felt good to indulge once in awhile. Like the squirrels in my backyard, I decided I might stockpile a few acorns, saving them as a reminder of a perfect autumn afternoon.

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