I had the best birthday last Thursday! I hadn’t been to Asheville in two years and I really wanted to go see my grandkids. So we took a mini-vacation and drove there for a couple of days.
We have lots of rituals and lots of things to accomplish when we go. Number one is baking! The two older kids are in school during the day but preschooler Tucker chose to stay home with me so we could cook together with no big brother or sister around. We went through my cookbooks to see what he thought would be fun, and he chose the chocolate teddy bear cookies. He said he wanted to make something from “scratch” — a term he thought was funny!
The recipe was perfect for him. Instead of rolling out the dough and then cutting it, you make balls — one for the body, a slightly smaller one for the head, tiny balls for the arms and legs and ears, and the tiniest for the nose. We put the little teddy bears on the cookie sheet and baked them. While they baked, we even made up a silly little poem about the 10 little bears in the oven — running into the back yard when the oven door opened — inspired by the gingerbread man!
Part of our “tradition” when I visit them is to make cinnamon rolls, so big brother Parker and I made some roll dough and refrigerated it for the next day. Tucker took some of that dough the next day and made bread sticks. Then he took some of the leftover chocolate cookie dough, rolled it into a worm, and embedded it into the bread dough stick. He just had the best time rolling the chocolate “worms” and was so proud of his invention! Addi made some dinner rolls, too, but what she really loved was illustrating our little story about the chocolate bears. She also loved our trip to the arboretum.
Our evenings were all about baseball. We watched Tucker play the first night, the Asheville Tourists minor league team the second night, and Parker the third night. Kali bought incredibly delicious, perfectly-ripe peaches at the farmer’s market for a birthday shortcake!
Grandkids, baking, and baseball made for a perfect birthday!
Chocolate Teddy Bears
Cream together in large mixer bowl:
2/3 cup butter
1 cup sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
Blend in and mix well:
Combine and add to creamed mixture:
2 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup cocoa
1/2 teaspoon soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
Blend thoroughly. Chill until firm.
To make bears, roll out balls:
1 – 1 1/4-inch ball for body
1 – 1-inch ball for head
4 – 1/2-inch balls for arms and legs
2 smaller balls for ears
1 tiny ball for nose
4 tiny balls for paws
Flatten large ball on cookie sheet. Slightly overlap medium ball onto body. Arrange arms and legs. Draw eyes and mouth with wooden pick. Bake for 6 to 8 minutes at 350 degrees until set. Makes 12.
Ohio First Lady Fran DeWine is a Cedarville resident, Yellow Springs native and guest columnist.