If you have small children then you are probably more than intimate with the almighty animal cracker. My pantry is never without a bag of these little beauties. They’re perfect for pacifying a cranky hungry toddler, they travel well, and they have the same soothing effect as a cookie, only there’s the added benefit of them not being quite as big as the real thing which ultimately allows for multiple handouts. (Aka… more handouts = greater spacing between crackers = happy child for longer period of time = happy adult for longer period of time). Heck, I’ve even been known to indulge in a handful or two of these sweet little treats when little eyes aren’t following my every move.
Some time ago, I was surfing around on ebay and ran into a cute little set of animal cookie cutters for a steal of a price. I thought to myself, “Now Julie, these would be perfect for making your own animal crackers. I mean really, why buy the preprocessed stuff when you can just as easily whip up a batch of your own?” And here we are today, homemade animal crackers in hand. And I have to say, they’re really good. I had to ration them out to my kids because they were practically clawing at each other to get to the bowl. I kept telling them they couldn’t eat any until I took pictures for the blog (I know, I know, terrible mom. But you can’t tell me it wasn’t worth the effort.) and they kept sneaking them when I wasn’t looking. Once I gave them the green light to dig in, it was like a tornado hit. Five minutes later all I had left was a bowl and some crumbs. Good thing I snuck a few away for myself when no one was looking. Even adults need an animal cracker every now and then.
This recipe was a two day process. The dough gets whipped up on day one and the cookies get baked on day two. To whip up a batch of dough, you’ll cream together a little butter and sugar and then add in an egg and some vanilla.
Next up you’ll add in a little flour, some oats, and baking powder along with a couple spices for good measure.
I actually made two different flavors of cracker. One as is and the other, chocolate. If you decide to chocolate up your animal crackers, you’ll simply substitute cocoa powder for a small amount of the flour and continue on as written. Take a peak at my two dough balls ready to be fridged.
Chill them for at least an hour and as long as overnight. When you’re ready to work on the crackers again, bring them out and give the dough five or so minutes to warm up. Pull off a piece and warm it up a bit in your hands, rolling it into a ball. Flatten the ball with your hand to get it started and then roll it out with a rolling pin to about 1/4″ thick.
Now cut out those stinkin’ cute animals.
This is about the point where Alex came into the picture and started helping me cut out the cookies. I swear this kid’s going to be a chef when he grows up.
Once you’ve cut out about a thousand little cookies and filled up your cookie sheet, you’ll throw them in the oven (use parchment on your cookie sheet for easier release) and let them cook up.
Tell me those aren’t adorable. Should I eat a cat first or a cow?
Rinse and repeat until you’ve made it through all your dough.
And if your natives are as restless for crackers as mine are, at this point you’ll drop a bowlful on the table and step back quickly to avoid the fray. Just make sure to save yourself a stash for later. You’ll definitely be glad you did.
Homemade Animal Crackers
Total Time: 2 Hours
1 Stick Butter
1 Cup Brown Sugar
1 tsp Vanilla
1 tsp Cinnamon
1/4 tsp Allspice
1/8 tsp Salt
1 tsp Baking Powder
1/2 Cup Oats
11/2 Cups Flour
2 Tbsp Cocoa Powder (Optional)
Cream together the butter and brown sugar.
Add in the egg and vanilla and combine well.
Mix in the cinnamon, allspice, and salt.
Finally, add in the baking powder, oats, flour, and optional cocoa powder. Cocoa powder should be subbed for flour. Simply add the powder to your measuring cup and then fill the rest of the way up with flour.
Mix it up good and form into a ball. Store in the fridge for a minimum of one hour and up to overnight.
When ready, pull dough from fridge, grab off a hunk and roll it out to 1/4" thick.
Cut out crackers and place on a cookie sheet lined with parchment.
Bake for 5-7 minutes in an oven preheated to 350 degrees.