yummy polar bear cookies…and a Christmas-cookie catastrophe

When my kids were smaller, we often baked up small platefuls of goodies to give to friends at Christmastime, including these polar bear cookies — so cute and jolly!  Perhaps some young bakers you know would also enjoy mixing these up.  While the dough is in the fridge, you could read a story about another attempt at baking cookies for a Christmas gift — one which is a Swanson family favorite.

Cinnamon Polar Bears

1 cup sugar
1 cup butter, softened
1 egg
2-1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
powdered sugar
apx. 1 tablespoon miniature chocolate chips
48 red cinnamon candies

In a large bowl, beat sugar and butter until light and fluffy.  Add egg and beat well.  Add flour and cinnamon and blend well.  Cover dough with plastic wrap and refrigerate about an hour for easier handling.

Divide the dough into 48 lumps! One lump per bear!  Out of each lump, you will make one big ball (1-inch) and 3 small balls (1/4 inch).

Put a large dough-ball on an ungreased cookie sheet and flatten it slightly — with your hand or a small glass.  Set two small balls above the head, but touching it, to form the ears.  Put one small ball on top of the cookie as the bear’s snout.  Flatten this one slightly.  Keep making bears, setting the cookies a couple inches apart on the cookie sheets.

Bake @ 350 ° for 11-15 minutes, until firm.  Immediately remove from cookie sheets.  Dust lightly with powdered sugar.  Set two mini chocolate chips in place as eyes, and one cinnamon red hot candy on the snout for his nose.  Ta da!


Arthur’s Christmas Cookies, words and pictures by Lillian Hoban

This is not the Arthur-and-DW characters, created by Marc Brown and spilling from bookshelves everywhere.  This is Lillian Hoban’s Arthur.  A monkey.  And his little sister Violet.  Introduced to us some 40 years ago.

In this story, Arthur and Violet are busy making Christmas gifts for the family.  These are groovy vintage crafts — popsicle stick napkin holders, clay handprint paperweights.  Arthur decides to bake some delicious sugar cookies in Violet’s Bake-E-Z oven to give to his parents.  His friends Norman and Wilma stop by, and everyone is eager to help.  Perhaps…too eager.  Things get a tad chaotic, much to Arthur’s dismay.

At any rate, when the cookies have finished baking and it’s tasting time, Arthur realizes that something has gone terribly wrong.  Turns out that Norman has handed him salt instead of sugar, and the result is a collection of hard-as-rock, inedible disasters.

How will Arthur redeem this mess?  Hmmmm…after a nice cup of hot chocolate and a good think, Arthur comes up with a great way to make those nasty cookies into dandy Christmas gifts.  What a happy ending!

We have loved this story over the years.  It’s an I-Can-Read level, nice enough to read aloud, but easy enough for an advanced-beginner reader to read independently as well.

Happy Baking-and-Reading!