Bear Hug Almond Cookies

Aren't these cookies cute? I have to tell you this was my first time making cookies and I am super happy with the results. For the longest time I have been promising the boys that when we settled down from our traveling days we would make some time to make cookies. A few days ago I was invited to a healthy cookie exchange party, so I decided to give these a try. I made enough dough that I was able to make more cookies with the boys the day after and photograph the process. We truly did some beautiful team effort, I think it helped that I had made the dough the day before so I was more relaxed.

A while back I stumbled upon these adorable almond bear hug cookies done by Maa Tamagosan, a Japanese chef. However I wanted to do a recipe that was done without refined sugar or vegetable oil. So I found this very nice cookie recipe by Natasha Merchant a cake maker and blogger, who shared the perfect adaptation of brown sugar and cinnamon shortbread cookies. My next task was to find the right cookie cutterand I was set to go. Shortbread cookies are my all time favorite type of cookies, but what we also loved about our version is that is made with healthy ingredients, they have almonds, and are supper cute looking. I did a little twist to the recipe and instead of using brown sugar I used organic unrefined whole cane sugar.

1 cup of this unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup of organic unrefined whole cane sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon
2 1/4 cups organic enriched unbleached white flour 1/4 teaspoon salt

With an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy (about 2-3 minutes).
Add the cinnamon and beat to combine.
Add the flour and salt, and mix on low speed until the dough just comes together, being careful not to overmix.
If the dough is crumbly, use your hand to gently knead it until it comes together.
Put the dough in a gallon sized freezer bag and put it on a flat surface.
Leaving the top open, use the bag as a guide to roll the dough into a 9 x 10 1/2 inch rectangle. It should be about 1/4 inch thick.
Seal the bag and refrigerate the dough for at least one hour.
Preheat the oven to 300 degrees fahrenheit and line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
Use a cookie cutter to cut out shapes from the dough, and place them on the lined baking sheets.
Sprinkle them with additional cinnamon sugar and bake for 18-20 minutes, until they are just lightly golden but not browned around the edges.
Cool completely on wire racks.

-When you roll the dough make sure t's on the thick side so that the arms won't break so easily when you fold them.
-Use a small measuring spoon to gently push bear's extremities out of the cookie cutter.
-The bigger almonds work best to avoid having to stretch arms too much.
-You can use a meat thermometer to make the eyes and nose of the bears like we did ;)
-Have fun and enjoy!

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