Sugar cookies are decorated to look like a polar bear floating in the deep blue sea. A sweet winter treat that is a wonderful addition to your Christmas cookie trays.
Walking through the Columbus Zoo's winter wonderland is always a magical experience for me. I just love strolling hand in hand with my husband through the zoo basking in the glow of twinkling lights while trying to spot animals in the darkness of their habitats. Our trip to the zoo this Christmas was particularly exciting because we got to see the new polar bear exhibit which was completely aglow in lights. The bears were spectacularly beautiful and I fell in love with their giant, yet adorable, paws. I was inspired to create cookies featuring the polar bears with special emphasis on their sweet paws and this is what I came up with. Aren't they cute?
Step 2: What You'll Need to Make These Cookies:
Modeling chocolate/chocolate clay is used to create the polar bear head and paws, as well as, the blue water on each cookie. It is simple to make, but store bought fondant can easily be substituted. Click here for the recipe and a tutorial on making modeling chocolate.
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)
parchment paper lined baking sheets
Step 3: Make Cookie Dough Then Roll Out and Cut Into Wavy Water Shapes.
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.
Step 4: Make Polar Bear Heads
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.
Step 5: Or If You Want, Make Cartoonish Looking Polar Bear Heads.
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.
Step 6: Make Polar Bear Paws.
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.
Step 7: Color Some Modeling Chocolate Ocean Blue.
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.
Step 8: Roll and Cut Out Ocean Blue Modeling Chocolate.
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.
Step 9: Frost Cookies and Top With a Piece of the Ocean.
Frost each cookie with a thin layer of vanilla frosting. Press one piece of modeling chocolate water on top of each cookie.
Step 10: Add Icy Waves to 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 set of pictures. I liked it better but didn't think to retake the picture above. If you can't find clear sanding sugar, you could also use light blue instead.
Step 11: Add White Caps.
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.
Step 12: Top Cookies With Polar Bears.
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.
Step 13: Your Back Float Bear Cookies Are Ready!
Store your cookies in an airtight container for up to a week.
Step 14: Serve Along With Your Other Christmas Cookies.
These cookies will make a great addition to any holiday or winter cookie platter. If you really want to dress them up for Christmas, you can add a red and green hat or give the polar bears a red and green ball to play with. These cookies will make great gifts if individually wrapped in clear cellophane bags.