Back Float Bear Cookies… floating along in the deep blue sea.

Walking through the Columbus Zoo’s winter wonderland is always a magical experience for me. One of my first dates with my husband was spent strolling hand in hand through the zoo basking in the glow of twinkling lights while trying to spot animals in the darkness of their habitats. I was particularly excited about our visit  this year because we got to see the new polar bears. When I visited the zoo this summer, their exhibit was complete but the bears weren’t in it, to my disappointment. This time, they were there – two enormous, billowy creatures. So beautiful. Their habitat is truly spectacular. It’s unlike any other I’ve seen before and we’ve visited a lot of zoos. There’s an underwater viewing area that spans nearly the entire length of the gargantuan exhibit. It was so nice to see how much room these huge animals have to roam, play, and swim.
During out visit, we also got to witness two other giant bears hibernating. At first we couldn’t see a thing in the dark enclosure, but every so often a soft light would flash so we could see the sleeping Grizzlies. At one point one bear rolled over and stretched out his leg pushing his unbelievably large paw up against the window. I was within a few inches of this furry foot and I had this overwhelming urge to reach out and tickle it. Crazy, I know. What sleeping bear would have appreciated that?
My visit to the zoo inspired me to create a winter themed sweet featuring a polar bear. I kept thinking about how cute the giant bear paws were and wanted to create something to showcase them, so I decided to replicate a bear floating around on it’s back with it’s big floppy paws sticking out of the water. Being so many of you said you like decorating frosted sugar cookies, I decided to use that as the base for my design. Each cookie is frosted before some modeling chocolate water is added. More frosting and some white sanding sugar creates an icy effect around each cookie. Then modeling chocolate and a black food coloring marker  are used to make the polar bear’s head and paws. These cookies are a bit time consuming, but they are so darn cute, that I believe they are worth the effort.

When I set out to take pictures of my cookies, at first I grabbed some background paper, but it just didn’t have the effect I was looking for, so I rolled out a big piece of modeling chocolate water, created some waves, set the cookie on top, and sprinkled on some powdered sugar snow so it looks like my bears are floating around in the big blue sea amidst snow flurries.

Back Float Bear Cookies (makes 12-15 cookies)


1/2 cup salted butter, softened
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 egg yolk
1 1/2 teaspoons almond (or vanilla) extract
1 1/4 cup all purpose flour, plus more for dusting

1 tub vanilla frosting (or use your favorite very white frosting recipe)
white sanding sugar, optional

1 recipe of white modeling chocolate (recipe here)
powdered sugar for dusting
blue and black food coloring (grocery store variety is fine)
black food coloring marker

food handling gloves (wear when coloring modeling chocolate)

* I’ve been trying out different cut out cookie recipes and this one was shared by my sister who used to make it when she was a Tupperware consultant. It was a recipe used by Tupperware, but I’m not sure of the actual origination of the recipe.

Supplies Needed:

plastic wrap
rolling pin
cutting board
sharp knife
parchment paper lined baking sheets


Make cookies: Cream butter and powdered sugar together until light and fluffy. Add egg yolk and almond extract and beat to combine. Add flour and beat just until dough comes together.  Roll into a ball, flatten into a disc, and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least an hour.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Dust cutting board with flour. Roll out cookie dough to 1/4″-1/3″ thick.  Draw a wavy water template that is about 4″ long and 2 1/4″ wide on a piece of paper. Cut it out. Set the template over the dough and cut out around it. Re-roll dough as needed until you have 12-15 cookies. Save the template.

Place the cookies on parchment paper lined baking sheets and bake for 8-10 minutes until they are set but not browned. Allow cookies to cool completely.

Meanwhile prepare the modeling chocolate decorations:

Pinch off a small amount of white modeling chocolate and color it black.

To create a realistic looking polar bear head, pinch off about two teaspoons of white modeling chocolate and roll it in a ball. Shape the ball into a pointed oval. Pinch off a small piece of black modeling chocolate and shape it into a rounded triangle for the nose. Dab a very small amount of water on the back side of the nose and press it onto the pointed end of the bear’s head. Pinch off two tiny pieces of modeling chocolate and roll them into balls and attach to the face for the bear’s eyes. (I like to use tweezers for such small detail work. You could also just draw on the eyes with the food coloring marker, if you prefer.) Pinch off two small pieces of white, roll them into balls, and flatten them into circles. Pinch together the bottom of each circle to create a rounded ear. Dab the pinched bottom edge with water and press it onto the head. Make enough heads to go on all of your cookies.

To create a more cartoon looking polar bear, roll some white into an oval, add the eyes, and ears, and a big oval nose. At first this was how I planned to make the bears and took several pictures using these heads, but after creating the more realistic looking head, I decided I liked it better, but both are cute, so you can decide which to make.

To make the paws pinch off and roll two small balls of white and two that are just slightly larger. Flatten the two smaller balls and keep them in a round shape. Flatten the two larger pieces making them more elongated. Use a sharp knife to make four slits in each paw for the toes. Use a black food coloring marker to draw a spot on each of the five toes on each paw and one pad on each paw. Allow the ink to dry before handling the paws. Make four paws for each bear cookie.

Add some drops of blue coloring into the remaining white modeling chocolate and knead leaving streaks of white and dark blue throughout. Set it aside for about 5 minutes to allow the food coloring to dry.

Dust your cutting board lightly with powdered sugar. Roll out the blue modeling chocolate as thin as you can get it. Take the template you used to cut out the cookies and cut off about 1/8″-1/4″ all around the edge.  Set the template on the blue modeling chocolate and use it as a guide to cut out the water for each cookie.

Frost each cookie with a thin layer of vanilla frosting.  Press one piece of modeling chocolate water on top of each cookie.

Add a border of frosting all around the edge of the cookie. Don’t smooth it out, you want it to look like waves. The reason I made the blue water a bit smaller than the cookie was so it wouldn’t show through the frosting here. I wanted the edges of the cookie to be white, not blue.

Sprinkle white sanding sugar all over the frosting. Just a note: The cookie pictured above has regular sugar on it. I didn’t think it sparkled enough so I found some big crystal sanding sugar and used it for the rest of the cookies which you’ll see in the next picture. I liked it better but didn’t think to retake the picture above.

Add some frosting white caps (the top of a wave) to each of the cookies. Press a small amount of frosting onto the blue modeling chocolate water and pull up creating peaks. Add as many as you’d like.

Use frosting to attach the head and paws to the modeling chocolate water. Spread some on the bottom of the head and press it onto the water. You want the frosting to look like white caps around the head and paws, not just a blob of frosting, so use a knife to make some peaks out of the frosting.

Store your cookies in an airtight container for up to a week.

So, I’m curious, which polar bear do you like better, the more realistic looking one or the more cartoon looking one?

If you like this recipe, please share it with others by using the share buttons below. I really appreciate being Stumbled Upon and Pinned, and am always grateful to those of you that share my ideas on your website. I do request that you don’t post my entire tutorial, but rather share a picture with a link. If you make this recipe, I’d love for you to send me a photo to [email protected] so that I can share it here. I link up to lots of websites that are listed hereThank you for visiting Hungry Happenings
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Thanks for sharing!


  1. says

    I grew up in Ohio and LOVE the Columbus Zoo! Once when we were there we even met Jack Hanna. My now 15 yr old had her picture taken with him when she was 9 months old. =) I love both of the bears, but I think I like the more realistic one a teeny bit better.

  2. says

    Thanks everyone!

    Pam, how wonderful that you got to meet Jack Hannah. He has been such a great asset to the Columbus Zoo. If you haven't been to the zoo in a while, it has gone through an amazing transformation in the past few years. I wish we lived much closer as I'd go all the time. I really love visiting there. It is now the number one rated zoo in America and I can see why.

    Jo and Sue – super genius – how sweet!

    Dave, yes I agree they are too pretty to eat, but somehow I've managed to snack on two of them. They taste as sweet as they look.

  3. says

    Wow! I'm so glad I found your site through Fun Finds Friday!!! These cookies are outstanding – definitely going to try this! Thank you for sharing – new follower of your blog, be back quite often! :)


  4. says

  5. says

    wow, what fun to see you linked up at Tea Party Tuesday…I have to tell you a quick thing about these…my daughter who is in 2nd grade is learning about BEARS in her science unit…grizzly, brown bear and the….drum roll please…POLAR BEAR! Guess what I am going to TRY to make for them next Friday after their unit test….THESE!!!!!!!! So cute.

  6. says

    Trish – so happy to hear you are going to make these for your daughter's class. What a fun treat to celebrate their completion of a test. Be sure to take pictures and send them to me so I can add them to my new reader's gallery and have fun!

  7. says

    Thanks everyone.

    Janel, yeah, I did eat two of them after they sat around for a few days. I just couldn't help myself. The other cookies went to friends, and I'm not sure if they ate them or are just enjoying them as decorations!

  8. says

    Those are the most creative cookies I've ever seen!! I found you via For the Kids Friday and am a new follower. I have a new meme called Thematic Thursday and this week's theme is Winter/Snow. I'd love to see this post linked up. Find Thematic Thursday here.

  9. says

    I featured this AMAZING cookie at TGIF Linky Party #12 – as it is your second feature feel free to email me at livinglifeintentionallyblog to get your special featured more than once button =-) Thanks for sharing your creativity with the rest of us & I can't wait to see what you link up this week!!!
    Beth =-)

  10. says

    Wow, Thanks everyone for all the wonderfully nice comments and the links and features. I've entered these cookies in a cookie challenge contest on the website and hope the judges enjoy them as much as all of you.

  11. says

    Aaaaack! Your beautiful, imaginative, and delicious looking creations are ruining my afternoon! :-) I just hopped over from Fun Stuff Friday to look at the sleeping bag wraps and I have been paging back through your blog for way too long. I should be making dinner. You do A-M-A-Z-I-N-G things with food.

  12. Anonymous says

    Have you written a Christmas book yet? I would love to buy it. I am going to buy your Halloween book this weekend. You should write a Party book also.
    Don't waste your talent, let everyones see what a real fun food designer does. Love, Trish Butler (motheroverkill)

    P.S. What is a profile?

    • says

      Hi, I have thought a lot about my next book, and think it will be a general holiday themed cuisine book. I'm too busy with hosting an exchange student this year to work on it, but have plans to do so next year.

      A profile is how you want to sign in to leave your name. If you have an account with Google or any of the other profile options, then your comments will link directly to your profile page. That way I can contact you directly, see what you blog about, or learn a bit about you. It is how Blogger does comments, and I don't like it, but I don't know how to change it.

  13. says

    Seriously creative, Id love the patience to make these they would be great at my daughters party, having just seen a polar bear at seaworld gold coast Australia, thankyou for posting these beautiful biscuits!

  14. says

    Seriously creative, Id love the patience to make these they would be great at my daughters party, having just seen a polar bear at seaworld gold coast Australia, thankyou for posting these beautiful biscuits!

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