These yummy treats were one of our recent projects.
I’d been wanting to do something that incorporated polar bears, since it’s winter, and when I realized I could shape little minty patties to look like bear paw prints, I got pretty excited.
It’s kind of like a teddy bear paw… but a polar bear instead.
My girls and I had been rotating through a couple of books that featured polar bears, which is one of the main reasons they were on my mind. The books include East of the Sun, West of the Moon and Hush Little Polar Bear, both of which I’ve reviewed below.
The bear paws are easy to make. The patty is just sugar, cream cheese, and peppermint extract.
Then, for decoration, I added Junior Mints and milk chocolate chips.
You could use semi-sweet or dark chocolate chips instead, but I liked the milk chocolate flavor with these.
Here are the necessary ingredients. I didn’t actually count out the candies ahead of time: I just poured a bunch in a bowl for my girls to pick from.
My 4yo did a pretty good job, and my 2yo had a lot of fun shaping the dough… when she wasn’t busy eating the candy.
To make the mint patties look like bear paws, add one Junior Mint and top with three chocolate chips.
You have to press them in right away, since the heat of your hand is what helps form the shape. Once you’ve formed the disc and placed it on the counter, it will begin to harden. So you’ll want to *gently* push in your candy right away.
Then store them in the fridge.
They look really cute on Christmas cookie platters, and would also be fun at winter birthday parties. Or just, you know, to eat yourself. :)
I love this book. East of the Sun, West of the Moon is a retelling of a 19th century Norwegian fairytale. It’s retold by Susanna Davidson and illustrated by Petra Brown.
It’s part of the Usborne Young Readers: Series Two books. It’s meant to be read by children who are 8+ years and are gaining confidence in reading on their own. I bought it to read to my 2 1/2 and 4 1/2 year old girls. It’s certainly much more appealing to the older child, who get’s very excited about it, but my youngest still enjoys the pictures and does listen to the story. And older kids will definitely enjoy reading it for themselves.
I think it’s wonderful, especially because it’s a fairy tale written for a younger audience that isn’t one of the same old, worn stories that are told over and over and over in other books. It’s a fresh tale. There’s adventure and excitement, and it’s even a little scary – as all fairy tales are – but not too much.
It’s terribly romantic, too, but not in a mushy, flowery way. This is a story about a brave girl who goes to the ends of the earth to save the man she loves. She enlists the help of the Four Winds and outsmarts an evil Troll to break the spell that turns her beloved prince into a polar bear.
There’s even a little message hidden in the ending promoting the importance of love and family over money and riches.
The retelling is written to be easily understood by kids. There are a limited number of words on every page, so as not to be overwhelming, and it’s 64 pages are separated into six chapters. The illustrations are absolutely gorgeous and many are displayed across a double page spread.
The physical book itself is also great. It’s small, about 5.5 by 8 inches, with thick pages, and its sturdy hardcover is a silky, soft texture. It feels nice to hold.
I completely and ardently recommend this book. It is unfortunately no longer available from my Usborne site, but you can sometimes find used copies on Amazon. You can also check out the other Young Readers: Series Two books.
Hush Little Polar Bear, by Jeff Mack, is a charming picture book. It’s available as a hardcover or a board book, and we have the hardcover version, since ours was a decommissioned purchase from our local library.
And I’m so glad I came across this gem while hunting for new books to read. It’s colorful and adventurous, and a wonderful bedtime read.
It’s written in verse as a little girl talking to her stuffed toy polar bear and about what exciting dreams he may be having. The bear sails the high seas on the back of a whale, swims through a waterfall, swings through the trees, forges through a desert, and floats through the sky … all the way home to her, where they curl up together to sleep.
The text has a good rhythm and the illustrations are a lot of fun. The little girl appears somewhere on every page, watching the polar bear’s adventures from up close or afar, and my kids enjoy pointing her out.
Plus, I love reading stories at bedtime that end with the characters drifting off to sleep. It helps set the mood. :)
If you have Little Ones, you should really consider adding it to your collection. It’s such a fun read!
And now, back to the recipe that was inspired by these fantastic books:
Peppermint Polar Bear Paws
4 1/2 cups confectionery sugar
4 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract
20 Junior Mints candies
60 milk chocolate chips
In a large bowl, use a mixer to combine the softened cream cheese and confectionery sugar until smooth.
Add the peppermint extract and mix until fully blended.
Scoop large spoonfuls of peppermint mixture out and use your hands to shape it into a disc. It won’t “roll” in your hands very well, so you’ll need to form them mostly by pressing them into shape.
Immediately add a Junior Mint and 3 chocolate chips to the peppermint disc in a pattern that represents a bear paw while still malleable. The disc will begin to harden once you stop moving it around in your hands, so make one at a time.
Store covered in the refrigerator. Makes 20.
[Notes: place the chocolate chips in upside down, so that the flat sides are facing up. And when placing the Junior Mints on the disc, press very gently on the edges, instead of in the middle, to avoid cracking them.]
Click here for the free printable PDF version:
Enjoy! And Happy Reading!