Bears In My Belly

Every year our family has a tree trimming party. It might be big with friends over or it might be smaller with just family. The one thing that is a constant is the food. No big surprise there if you know how much I love food.  Like most families, I think, a lot of our celebrations might just have food as a larger part of the traditions.

The tree trimming party usually started with homemade meatball subs and a salad and then we decorate the tree and after there is eggnog or hot cider from a local farm and the thing my kids look forward to the most, Gingerbread Teddy Bears.

Cooling on the rack

Before I go on, this is not going to be in any way shape or form a recipe I have done over to make healthier. Only changes I have made to the original recipe I got in a Taste of Home Cookbook was to not use shorting and use butter and I admit to using a white wheat flour. Beyond those little changes, I really don’t care if this is healthy or not. We only have these deliciously wonderful bears once a year. I am not going to get caught up in calories, waistlines or anything else. Holidays are for enjoying and I personally believe anyone who tortures themselves, on purpose, at this time and doesn’t enjoy a treat now and then (notice I didn’t say daily or woof down all the cookies in front of you) just might be related to the Grinch or Ebenezer Scrooge.

This year I am making the bears twice. I know I said I only make them once a year. This year is different as my oldest son is deployed and a Christmas without Gingerbread Teddy Bears just can’t happen no matter where in the world he might be. I can’t supply the eggnog but I hope the chow hall will.  The year he was in boot camp I froze these bears along with some eggnog so when he came home on leave he was able to enjoy them. So I can say they freeze well, so does eggnog for that matter.  So I made up a batch already and they are in route to my son and his fellow Marines, if he shares. I’ll make a batch for us for when we do the tree.

Teddy assembly

While there is a little work involved in rolling out the balls and assembling them, it’s fun. I admit I don’t follow the directions and make each bear as I go and then flatten the whole bear. It just feels more fun for me.  You do need to chill the dough for about 2 hrs so take that in mind. It can be left in the fridge overnight with no harm.

Ready for the oven

Gingerbread Teddy Bears

    • 1 cup butter, cubed
    • 2/3 cup packed brown sugar
    • 2/3 cup molasses
    • 1 egg, lightly beaten
    • 1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
    • 4 cups white  whole wheat  flour
    • 1-1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
    • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
    • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
    • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
    • chocolate chips
    • In a small saucepan, combine the butter, brown sugar and molasses. Cook over medium heat until sugar is dissolved. Pour into a large bowl; let stand for 10 minutes. Stir in egg and vanilla. Combine the flour, cinnamon, ginger, baking soda and cloves; gradually add to butter mixture and mix well. Cover and refrigerate for 2 hours or overnight.
    • Shape dough into eight balls, 2 in. each; eight balls, 1 in. each; 32 balls, 1/2 in. each; and 16 balls, 3/8 in. each. Place the 2-in. balls on three foil-lined baking sheets for the body of eight bears; flatten to 1/2-in. thickness. Position 1-in. balls for heads; flatten to 1/2-in. thickness. Attach four 1/2-in. balls to each bear for arms and legs. Attach two 3/8-in. balls for ears. Add chocolate chips for eyes, nose and belly button.
    • Bake at 350° for 10-12 minutes or until set. Cool for 10 minutes before carefully removing to wire racks to cool completely. 
      Makes: 8 bears or more depending on how big you make each bear.

    These are great to have kids help with since they love to play with dough and rolling the balls and even flattening them is a lot of fun. I do hope you’ll give them a try. Eating them is a lot of fun too.

Untill next time,

Love and blessings,

Shelly

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