It’s that time of year again! The season when you can bake to your heart’s content and finally get around to any cookie recipes you’ve been craving. Well, here’s another recipe to add to your list: Tea Loving Gingerbread Bears! Who needs a gingerbread man when you can have Gingerbread Bears…presenting you with tea!A large cookie cutter sets the stage for these Gingerbread Bears. Instead of using regular molasses, I use blackstrap molasses here for a richer, deeper, and stronger taste. The blackstrap molasses also creates a chocolatey shade of brown to enhance the grizzly effect.
This dough is extremely forgiving and easy to work with. After you cut out your bear shapes, any remaining scraps can be re-mixed and re-rolled, multiple times. And if you want to plan ahead, the dough can be made up to 2 days ahead of time.
It’s best to roll out large cookies like these on the thick side. As I do with any decorated cut-out cookies, I roll the dough just shy of 1/4″. The thickness helps with shaping the dough (fold the arms over gently!) and also makes for a more professional look.
Use regular cut-out sugar cookie dough if you want to enjoy these during other months of the year. For Christmas, I love to pair this spicy treat with black or green chai, like these from Stash Tea. A colorfully wrapped tea bag envelope is a must here. It’s the best way for these adorable Tea Loving Gingerbread Bears to make a big statement with a big hug!
Tea Loving Gingerbread Bears (Inspired by Maa Tamagosan’s Nut-Hugging Bear Cookies)
Makes 10 large cookies.
1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/3 cup dark brown sugar
1/2 cup molasses (regular or blackstrap)
1 tsp vanilla
3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 tsp baking soda
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp allspice
1/2 tsp cloves
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp salt
small black confetti/dot sprinkles, for eyes & nose
large heart sprinkles, for bows
gold dragées, for bows
marzipan, for snout
individually wrapped tea bags (I used Stash’s Double Spice Chai Black Tea & Chai Green Tea)
2 Tbsp chocolate chips, melted, for attaching decorations
stand mixer with paddle attachment
large mixing bowl
2 large baking sheets lined with parchment
10 sheets of foil, folded into the size of your tea bag envelopes (see instructions below)
1. In a mixing bowl, mix together the flour, baking soda, spices, and salt. Cream the butter together with the sugar in the stand mixer until light and fluffy. Add the egg, then the molasses, then mix thoroughly. Gradually incorporate the dry ingredients, then add the vanilla, scraping the sides of the bowl down periodically. Place the dough onto a large piece of plastic wrap, form it into a disk, then place it in the fridge to chill for a few hours.
2. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. On a work surface generously dusted with bench flour, roll the dough out to just under a 1/4″ thickness. Cut bear shapes out with the cookie cutter, then transfer them to a baking sheet lined with parchment. Place 5 bears on each baking sheet, leaving 1″ between them.
3. Create foil tea-bag molds by wrapping a piece of foil around a tea bag completely. Shape the foil around the tea bag envelope, then slide the tea bag envelope out and remove it, leaving the molded shape of the envelope with the foil.
4. Place a foil-tea bag mold in the center of each bear cut-out. Gradually and gently, fold over each arm of the bear over the foil until the bear looks like it’s hugging the foil mold. Repeat the process for all 10 bears, then bake them in the oven for 10 minutes.
6. When the bears have cooled completely, gently remove the foil molds by sliding them out. Slide a tea bag envelope into the empty space where the foil mold was removed. If you need to, use a thin knife to more easily guide the foil mold out and envelope into place.6. Create the bear’s “snout” area by taking a 1/2 teaspoon of marzipan and shaping it into a flattened oval. Use a toothpick to “draw” the bear’s mouth. Now, use a toothpick to apply small dabs of melted chocolate to attach the snout to the face, and the black sprinkle/nose to the snout. Also use the chocolate to attach the eyes to the face and the bow tie (2 heart sprinkles & a gold dragée) to the ear or neck.Decorating Tip: If one of the arms breaks off for some reason, no worries, just use some dabs of the same melted chocolate to reattach it!