When it's cold outside, it can be a treat. . .
. . . to huddle together in a warm kitchen. . .
. . . and bake something sweet. . .
. . . with a dash of discovery . . .
. . . and a pinch of creativity. . .
. . . that come together to make one great lesson and a lot of lovely cookies.
These animal tracks cookies are a great way to mix a little learning into your sweet treats. The dough is quick to pull together and can be done ahead of time and left in the freezer for just the right moment. And, with the slicing method, you don't even need to pull out the rolling pin!
Check out the "With the Kids" section for a list of educational activities and games to play with these animal tracks cookies.
Animal Tracks Cookies
- 8oz butter (softened)
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/4 cup maple syrup
- 1 egg yolk
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 2 cups flour
- Red, Yellow & Blue food coloring
- Paintbrush, paper, scotch tape, Exacto knife OR These Animal Track Stamps
In a bowl combine butter, sugar, and maple syrup until light and fluffy. Add the egg yolk and beat until well incorporated and do the same with the vanilla and salt.
Add the flour a 1/2 cup at a time and mix until everything just comes together. Dump the cookie dough onto a sheet of parchment or plastic wrap and roll it into a log with a diameter of roughly 2".
Place in the freezer for 45min - 1 hour or until it hardens (can also be left overnight, or longer if you like to pan ahead).
When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 325°F
Cut the log into 1/4" slices and place them on a lined baking sheet about 1" apart. Bake for 15-18 minutes or until the edges are golden. Allow to cool completely on a wire rack.
To make the decorations you can use this template to make paper stencils or you can use these natural rubber tracking stamps.
If you are going the stencil route simply print out the stencil (the tracks should be about 1 1/4" wide). Place scotch tape over the front and the back of the sheet of paper in the area you will be cutting out the track shapes. Using an Exacto knife cut out the tracks for a bear, coyote, and deer. After the tracks are cut out, cut them into their own individual sheets so you can use them more easily.
Mix 12 drops each of yellow, blue, and red food coloring together to make a brown color. If you prefer a warmer brown you can add a couple extra drops of red.
Using the stencils, paint the tracks on cooled cookies. To play a matching game, also use the food coloring to paint the names of the tracks on different cookies (as pictured above).
To make the cookies using these track stamps, simply wash the stamps with dish soap and paint on the food coloring before gently pressing them on the cookies.
With the Kids: