…and we can have a party…
Last Christmas, I volunteered to make Marie Biscuit teddy bears for a childrens’ home Teddy Bears Picnic Christmas party. Which seemed like a great idea at the time, until I realised I had no idea how to make Marie Biscuit teddy bears. Searching the web (the first step for almost any project, kitchen or not) produced some biscuit animal photos, and some bear cakes, but nothing specific for Marie Biscuit bears. And the funny thing with a Teddy Bears Picnic theme, is that bears are kind of non-negotiable.
So, I made it up as I went along and put together the simplest of ingredients which turned into pretty good girl and boy bears which delighted the littlies. So, for those who may volunteer for something similar and have a similar realisation that they need to search the web for help, here is a quick guide to making Marie Biscuit Teddy Bears.
Hot water (from the kettle, but not boiling)
Chocolate marshmallows (or any beige coloured equivalent)
Silver and Gold edible decorative balls
Icing-based small coloured balls (or similar coloured decorations) (optional)
Red food colouring
Large board/ work surface
2 plastic bowls (1 medium, 1 small)
Cut the marshmallows into 3-5mm slices for the snouts and ears (you’re cutting the narrow ends, moving down the length, getting “circles”)
Here are some little tricks I picked up while doing this:
- For the bear snouts, you only want to use the ends of the marshmallows – they look best with the smooth rounded surface facing up. So, you’ll get 2 snouts per marshmallow.
- The easiest way to cut marshmallows is with a pair of kitchen scissors. The best way to cut marshmallows is with a pair of kitchen scissors sprayed with non-stick cooking spray. They are incredibly sticky on the inside, and go out of shape when you have to unstick them from an unsprayed blade.
- The slices that are not ends are halved to make a pair of ears. Keep the pairs close together, as the matching set looks better than 2 randomly selected ears.
- Keep the cut ears and snouts to one side, as it’s better to have them ready to stick on to a few biscuits at a time while the icing is still wet instead of doing one at a time.
Face Base (Brown Icing)
This is more art than science, it’s hard to give specific amounts as it depends on how many bears you’re making, how thickly you spread the icing, how thick you make the icing. Luckily, you can always make more if you need it. Here are the tricks to this part:
- In the medium size plastic bowl, place as much icing sugar as looks enough for the number of Marie Biscuits you have.
- Add hot water very slowly to the icing sugar. Use a teaspoon- you can always add a little more, but too much water and you have to add more icing sugar or have an unspreadable watery icing. Add water till your icing is slightly wetter than you want it, because you need to add cocoa to make it brown.
- Add cocoa a little bit at a time. Again, the amount depends on how much icing you have made. You want it a nice dark brown but not bitter.
- Once the cocoa is added, you want a consistency that doesn’t drip off a knife if you lift it, but not so thick and dry that it clumps on the biscuit and won’t spread.
Spread a thin layer of the brown icing on the flat side of the Marie Biscuits.
One tip here:
Ice about 4 Marie Biscuits at a time then add the snouts and ears to these. This is the most efficient way to do it, but don’t do more than this – the icing will dry before you get a chance to add the snouts and ears and they won’t stick properly.
Snout and Ears (Marshmallow slices)
- Place a marshmallow snout in the centre of the iced biscuit, 5-10 mm from what will be the “chin”, rounded side up
- Position a pair of marshmallow ears at a slight angle about 2cm apart at the top of each biscuit
Leave the iced, snouted and eared biscuits to dry for a bit while you ice, snout and ear the next 4. This helps make them a firmer surface and a bit easier to handle when you do the finer decorations. Once all the bears are complete to this point, you can add their features:
Nose (Brown icing)
- With the tip of a teaspoon, take a little bit of brown icing from the bowl and, using fingers or a knife, form a small ball.
- Carefully place the ball in the middle near the top of the snout.
Eyes (White icing)
- In the small plastic bowl, add a little bit of icing sugar.
- Even more slowly than before, using not more than 1/2 a teaspoon at a time, drop hot water into the icing sugar to make a thickish white icing (paste).
- Use the tip of a teaspoon or knife and fingers to position 2 small drops of white icing as eyes, between the ears and the snout.
- Gently press a silver/ gold decorative ball into the centre of each “eye”.
Mouth (Red food colouring)
Dip the tip of a toothpick into red food colouring and – using it like a delicate pencil – carefully draw a vertical line on the snout from the nose to about 2mm from the edge. Also draw a smile about 2mm from the edge, following the shape of the snout.
Some notes on working with food colouring:
- To make it easier to work with, pour a little colouring into the lid of the food colouring bottle. Then you can dip your toothpick into the shallow lid instead of into the bottle. You can also move the bottle out of your way completely, and reduce the risks of accidents and spills.
- No matter how careful you are, the stuff tends to get all over your fingers. It’s the strangest thing, but it happens. It does tend to wash off with dishwashing liquid and sometimes even just hot soapy water, especially if you wash your hands soon.
- I found it worked best to work with the colouring bottle on folded pieces of kitchen towel. And then to stand the bottle on paper in an old plastic bowl, just in case I knocked it over/ bumped it – spills would be on the paper in the bowl. The stuff gets everywhere else too. And stains.
Bows and Bowties (optional)
While the bears looked fine as is, I wanted to add a little more colour and character for the orphans who would be enjoying them. Using icing decorations mum had bought as a lark, I added 2 small balls to each bear – under the snout as a bowtie for each “boy” bear, and between the ears as a bow for each “girl” bear. These extras just seemed to finish the bears nicely. (You can use any candy, or some coloured icing, to do something similar)
Once all the decorations are done, leave the bears on a flat surface in a cool area to dry.