Homemade animal crackers kick store-bought animal crackers to the curb. Made from scratch, these frosted cookies are relatively healthy and remarkably easy to make. Here’s how to make your own.
If you’re like most Americans of a certain age, the mention of animal crackers summons memories of curious little creatures held captive in wee cardboard boxes resembling Barnum’s circus cars. No more. Not after you’ve sampled these homemade animal crackers from cookbook author Ivy Manning. “I loved animal crackers as a child,” Manning explains. “But as an adult, I find them to be overly sweet and bland at the same time.” Sometimes recollection tends to be more forgiving than it ought in terms of taste and texture, yes? She’s fixed that. What we think you’ll call to mind going forward is this terrific-tasting cookie made with all-natural ingredients and lotsa love. Here’s how to make your own from scratch. Originally published September 5, 2014.–Renee Schettler Rossi
How To Make Animal Crackers In Any Shape
Okay, so the name “animal crackers” sorta leads one to expect these cookie-like crackers to be in the shape of, you know, animals. But we’re not averse to the notion of reaching for whatever cookie cutters you happen to have on hand, be they in the shape of an animal, heart, angel, dreidel, or vintage mustang convertible. It’s the taste that counts.
Special Equipment: Animal-shaped cookie cutters
Homemade Animal Crackers
- Quick Glance
- 40 M
- 2 H
- Makes 45 animal crackers
- For the animal crackers
- 1 1/2 cups plus 2 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour, plus more for the work surface
- 1/3 cup oat flour (you can simply blitz oats in a blender until fine and powdery)
- 1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest, preferably organic
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 4 tablespoons (2 ounces) unsalted butter, chilled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
- 1/4 cup buttermilk
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- For the frosting
- 1 3/4 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon milk
- 2 tablespoons sprinkles (optional)
- Make the animal crackers
- 1. In the bowl of a food processor or in a large bowl, pulse or whisk the all-purpose flour, oat flour, brown sugar, granulated sugar, lemon zest, baking powder, and salt to combine. Add the butter and pulse about 15 times if using a food processor or use a pastry blender or your fingers to cut the butter into the flour mixture until it resembles coarse meal.
- 2. In a large liquid measuring cup, combine the buttermilk, honey, and vanilla and stir until the honey has dissolved. Add to the flour mixture and pulse or stir with a wooden spoon until the dough just comes together. Remove the dough from the processor or bowl and knead gently on a lightly floured surface until smooth, about 10 times. Divide the dough into 2 portions, shape them into equal-size disks, wrap them in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 1 hour and up to 2 days.
- 3. Preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C). Line 2 baking sheets with silicone baking mats or parchment paper.
- 4. Unwrap the dough and place 1 disk on a well-floured surface. Roll out the dough until it’s 1/8 inch thick, lifting and rotating the dough to make sure it’s not sticking to the work surface. You may need to sprinkle the surface with more flour if necessary.
- 5. Use lightly floured cookie cutters to cut out animal shapes. Using a lightly floured bench scraper or offset spatula, transfer the cut-outs to the prepared baking sheets. Reroll the scraps once and cut them out. Bake the animal crackers until light golden brown around the edges, 6 to 10 minutes, rotating the baking sheet once from back to front while baking. Cool the crackers on the sheet until they firm up, 5 minutes, and then transfer them to a wire rack to cool to room temperature. While the first batch of crackers is cooling, repeat the rolling, cutting, and baking process with the remaining dough and dough scraps.
- Make the frosting
- 6. In a small bowl, combine the confectioners’ sugar, lemon juice, and milk and stir until smooth.
- Frost the animal crackers
- 7. Spread a thin layer of frosting over each animal cracker, scattering sprinkles over the crackers immediately after you frost, if desired. Let them stand at room temperature until the frosting is completely set, at least 1 hour. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 week.