Wednesday, March 20, 2013
Homemade Animal Crackers
Yes, you can make these at home, from scratch and still have them taste like the store bought cookies that come in the circus box. Animal crackers are one of those treats that you don't realize how much you like them until you haven't had them in a while. At my old job, they used to put out jars of candy, pretzels, nuts and animal crackers for an afternoon snack. I couldn't resist grabbing a few of those little cookies when I had a chance. Something about that almost but not quite vanilla flavor in a crisp cookie that just melts away. And of course, the fun animal shapes don't hurt their appeal. The great debate is how do you eat your animal crackers? Do you bite off their feet so they can't run away, or bite the head so they can't talk back? However you eat them, this simple recipe will remind you how much you love this children's treat.
Flipping through a King Arthur Flour catalog a few months ago, I saw this recipe and paused to check it out. Dave was over my shoulder and exclaimed how much he loved animal crackers. I marked the recipe, but didn't commit because I didn't have the right sized cutters. Sure, KAF would sell me their adorable Animal Pop Out Cookie Cutter Set, which will actually imprint the cookies with animal details, but I wasn't complete sold. Fast forward to me standing in the baking aisle at Michael's were I stumbled upon this cute little Noah's Ark themed cookie cutter set from Wilton for less than half the price, plus I had a coupon. Sold.
The recipe is great, and trust that the authentic flavor is a result of using the Princess Cake and Cookie Flavor emulsion because the taste of these was spot on. The oatmeal also aids in the flavor and was an unexpected ingredient to me. Be sure to grind it fine to a flour-like consistency, which will help when rolling the dough (I could have ground mine a bit more). These would make great treats for a kid's party or tuck them into your work bag for an afternoon pick me up that's fun and tasty.
Homemade Animal Crackers
3/4 cup butter, softened
1/4 cup sugar
3 Tablespoons honey
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon Princess Cake and Cookie Flavor emulsion
1 1/2 cups flour
1 cup rolled oats, finely ground, or oat flour
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, or a large bowl with a hand held mixer, beat butter, sugar, honey, salt, baking soda and emulsion until combined.
Add flour and ground oats, mixing until full incorporated.
Turn dough out onto a flexible mat and gather any loose pieces, forming dough into a large ball. Divide in half, flattening each half into a disc and wrap with plastic wrap. Chill for at least 1 hour.
Working with one half of dough at a time, roll out onto a lightly floured surface to about 1/4 inch thick.
Dip 1 inch animal cookie cutters into flour and cut the dough into shapes. Transfer cut dough to parchment or Silpat lined cookie sheets.
Bake at 350 degrees F for 8-10 minutes, until edges are lightly browned. Turn baking sheet 180 degrees halfway through. If using more than one sheet at a time, rotate positions in the oven for more even baking.
Remove from oven and cool on pan for a few minutes before transferring to wire racks to cool completely.
Store in an airtight container.
Makes about 100 cookies.
The Cookie Princess
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