These polar bear cookies are so darn cute. Each has a 3 dimensional polar bear floating on it’s back in a cookie ocean with it’s big fluffy paws and head sticking up out of the modeling chocolate water.
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.
Polar 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
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.
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.
Aren’t they adorable?
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 these you might also like these other polar bear treats.
If you make and share these polar bear cookies on your own website be sure to link back to this post and credit Hungry Happenings. Thanks!
Be sure to check out all my fun Christmas Recipes!