Teddy Bear Mugs n’ Hugs Cookies

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I was inspired to make these by a video one of my friends posted on my Facebook page, showing adorable teddy bear cookies that you can hang off the side of a mug.

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Knowing my daughter’s love for both hot cocoa and animal-shaped food, I knew that these would be appearing in my kitchen at some point. I also couldn’t help but notice that the teddy bears would be perfect for making these bear-shaped cookies hugging almonds, which I’ve also seen around and coveted, so it would be like killing two birds with one stone, right?

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I went on Amazon and bought the Rilakkuma cutter set (which would also come in handy for cute bento lunches), and I was off!

The first video (which is a much-shortened version of a more comprehensive one available here) doesn’t include the full recipe, but this longer one does, so I’ve reproduced it below. If you don’t want to follow it, you can use basically any shortbread recipe. I didn’t bother with the squash powder variation, but I did try the espresso one, and it was very tasty.

For the nut-hugging bears (hee, nut-hugging…) I decided to use a variety of nuts, rather than just almonds. I didn’t feel like buying three different kinds of nuts separately, so I just got a can of premium, lightly salted mixed nuts (the no-peanut blend) to get almonds, cashews, and pecans. I thought about getting the honey-roasted kind, but I worried that the honey coating would burn in the oven so decided to do without it, figuring that I could always brush the nuts with honey glaze after baking if I needed to (spoiler: I didn’t need to).

Teddy Bear Cookies (makes about 3 dozen small cookies)

150 g butter, room temperature

90 g powdered sugar

1 tsp. vanilla extract

1 egg, room temperature

1 pinch salt

200 g cake flour (I used 180 g all-purpose flour and 20 g cornstarch)

80 g almond meal

about 1-2 tbs. chocolate chips

** Optional 1 1/2 tsp. instant coffee/espresso powder

1. Thoroughly mix softened butter with powdered sugar until smooth.

2. Add egg, vanilla, and salt. If your egg is any cooler than room temperature it may not incorporate smoothly (the butter will coagulate into little granules from the cold), but that’s okay. Just keep mixing to get it as smooth as possible.

3. Sift flour and almond meal over butter mixture, then mix thoroughly into a soft dough.

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4. If doing the espresso variation, dissolve instant coffee in 1/2 tsp. hot water, then mix resulting liquid into half of your dough.

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5. Wrap dough(s) in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 1 hour.

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6. On a generously floured board, roll dough to 1/4″ thick and cut out teddy bears. This particular cutter/mold combination is difficult to work with, so you need the thicker dough to make things easier. First, you’ll use the mold portion of the cutter to make the teddy bear impression with facial features, etc. Then you’ll use the cutter portion to cut out the edges. It’s very important to do it in this order, because if you cut the edges first the dough will get completely stuck in the mold section and you’ll never get it out intact.

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7. Once bears are cut out, use a butter knife to cut the arms apart from the sides of the bear. Do NOT cut along the impressed arm-lines– those make the arms too thin. Cut the arms about twice as wide.

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** For bears that hang on the side of your cup **

  • Using 3″ wide strips of parchment paper, fold the strips in half lengthwise, then in half again to make long, thinner strips. Cut each strip into shorter pieces to create a little paper shelf for the arms, and a small footrest for the legs.

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  • Prop the arms up onto the shelf, making sure to tap the very ends of the “paws” flat onto the shelf– this will enable the paws to keep the cookies on your cups. Prop up the ends of the legs onto the shorter paper strip as shown.

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** For bears that hug nuts **

  • Place nuts diagonally across the bears’ chests, then nudge the arms over the nut to “hug” them. Press gently so they adhere to the nut.

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8. Chill cookies in the freezer for 10-15 minutes.

9. Bake at 350 degrees F for about 10-12 minutes, until edges just turn golden brown.

10. Remove from oven and let cool at least 5 minutes before removing paper from cup-hanging bears.

11. Melt chocolate chips and transfer to a piping bag,  plastic sandwich bag, or parchment cone. Cut a teeny, tiny hole in the end and pipe chocolate into the eye- and nose-dents in the teddy bears. If your piping tip is fine enough, pipe the mouth lines as well. If not, use a toothpick to drag chocolate out of the nose into the mouth lines. I did the latter and it looked fine.

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Just look at how cute these are! Even our kitty got in on the action!

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Notes:

  1. This is a very soft dough. You may need to chill your rolled-out dough several times during the cutting process to firm it up enough to work with. Be generous with the flour on the board to keep the dough from sticking.
  2. The chilling of the dough after cutting out the cookies is also a crucial step here– you want your cookies to keep their molded shapes, and chilling will reduce spreading and puffing to make that happen.
  3. I think next time I would use a simpler cookie recipe, one that doesn’t need cake flour or almond meal and perhaps isn’t quite as soft to roll out. A basic shortbread, maybe, or even my standard vanilla cutout recipe (omitting the baking powder).
  4. The amount of espresso in these was nice, but I like my shortbread fairly non-sweet. If you like your cookies sweeter you may want to add a little extra sugar to the espresso cookies since the bitterness is noticeable.
  5. By the way, these cookies were not able to hang off the side of a standard mug– the mug walls were too thick for the bears’ tiny arms to hang over. Luckily they fit just fine over the side of a more delicate teacup.
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