Parents looking for a lunch-box surprise might try Green Mountain Trading Company's Feast of Fun circus cookies. These are small, animal-shaped cookies coated with white or dark chocolate. And the cookie can makes a good toy. It's brightly painted with animals seated at a banquet table, an adaptation of a turn-of-the-century illustration.
Each can contains two 3-ounce bags of cookies, one set covered with white chocolate, the other with dark chocolate. The price is $8.50 at Sadie, 167 S. Crescent Heights Blvd., Los Angeles, or at Bullock's in South Coast Plaza, Costa Mesa.
More serious students can increase their knowledge while snacking on Japanese animal cookies distributed by Hosoda Brothers of Gardena and San Francisco. Each cookie is printed with the English name of the animal as a guide for young spellers. The back of the box is a language lesson--a chart of animal names in English, Spanish and Japanese.
The cookies come from Tokyo, and the box is printed in Japanese characters. However, a side panel indicates that the contents are "animal shaped biscuits with butter tasting," and the distributors have added a paste-on strip with an ingredients list. The Japanese name of the product is Tabekko Dohbutsu ( dohbutsu means "animal").
The 2.8-ounce box is easily identified by a photograph of the cookies above a lineup of cartoon animals. It's $1.39 at the Modern Food Market, 332 E. Second St. in Little Tokyo.
Beth Setrakian of Beth's Fine Desserts Inc. had her children--Nicholas, 6, and Sophia, 2--pose for the angel drawings that adorn the bags of her cookies, called, appropriately, Beth's Babies.
Setrakian only recently started this business--the first bags of cookies were put on the market in June. But she's had lots of baking experience. Her first job after graduating from Stanford was making dessert for chef Mark Miller's at the Fourth Street Grill in Berkeley. She's also worked at Il Fornaio in San Francisco and presently teaches at a Bay Area cooking school and serves as a baking consultant.
Beth's Babies are labeled "handmade little cookies." They average about an inch in diameter, "a perfect size for wee hands," she observes. But actually, the cookies seem designed and priced with adults in mind. High-end premium ingredients, such as hazelnuts, imported chocolate and butter are used. Flavors are bittersweet chocolate chunk, lemon butter crunch, butter pecan, nocciolata (hazelnuts and chocolate) and triple ginger snaps. The ginger snaps get their triple wallop from crystallized ginger, ground ginger and fresh ginger root, and they're as snappy a cookie as you can find.
Setrakian has a couple of local appearances scheduled. She'll do a tasting at Irvine Ranch Farmers Market in Woodland Hills Sept. 14 and the following day at Irvine Ranch in the Beverly Center. Each session will last from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. The market is carrying her cookies in 130-gram bags for $3.99 and 50 gram bags for $1.49.
Note for small shoppers: Irvine Ranch has installed down-sized shopping carts for grade-school children who accompany their parents to the store.