Animal Crackers

Animal Crackers Recipe


I've been making spring rolls quite often lately and had half a pack of extra-large wonton wrappers leftover in the refrigerator. We've had fresh spring rolls, baked spring rolls, and steamed dumplings - so I wanted to explore a use for the wrappers that didn't involved stuffing them. Armed with a menagerie of animal-shaped cookie cutters I made cut-outs and baked them off into thin, crispy, light (and sweet) crackers.

The great thing about this cracker concept is that the wrappers provide a quick and easy blank canvas to experiment with - sweet or savory, spicy or seedy - there are countless directions to explore. I opted for sweet this time and topped each cracker with a few ingredients including cane sugar, ground ginger and sesame seeds. My rational for this direction was to keep the palette in the Asian realm and to create a garnish that would give some visual flair to the ginger panna cotta I made last night (agar-thickened, for the vegetarians out there). I suspect they would also compliment tropical sorbets and sherbets like mango, coconut, or pineapple nicely as well. They might even hold up as the structure in an extra skinny ice-cream sandwich.

Animal Crackers - ready for the oven

Other ideas:
- Bake extra, extra-large ones and use them as a platform for an Asian-style tostada.

- Cut the wrappers into thin strips, season and use them as a crunchy element in salads.

- Instead of bread-based crostini, use these as your foundation.

- I was tempted to use a touch of ground tea as a seasoning after they came out of the oven, maybe I'll do that next time in place of the ginger.

Anyone else have ideas? Serving ideas or variations on the seasonings? Throw them out there!

 
 
 
 

Animal Cracker Recipe

I've found chia seeds make nice eyes, but only if you have the patience to drop them into place with tweezers. Be vigilante once the crackers are in the oven, they go from undercooked to burnt in a flash, so you need to watch them closely. Use a mix of whatever seeds you like, I used a sesame-heavy bunch of seeds left in the bottom a container of my favorite seed-crusted crackers. I should also mention, for those of you who would like to do a nut-free version, Crystal wrote to me and said she had great success using the following substitutions: she substituted McCann's quick oats (pulsed in a food processor a little bit with the shredded coconut) for the nuts, and upped the amount of coconut oil by 1 1/2 teaspoons to make up for the nut fat.

1 packet of extra-large wonton wrappers
1/4 cup natural sugar, evaporated cane sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
1 organic egg
tiny splash of heavy cream
1/4 cup mixed seeds

Special equipment: cookie cutters

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and place racks in the middle. Line a couple baking sheets with Silpats or parchment paper.

In a small bowl combine the sugar, ginger, and salt. In a separate bowl whisk the egg and cream together. Cut the wonton wrappers into various shapes using the cookie cutters. Brush the wontons with a thin glaze of the egg wash and be sure to get anyplace you want seeds to stick. Sprinkle each cracker with seeds, and then a generous dusting of the sugar mixture.

Move the crackers into a single layer on the baking sheets and bake until the wontons are golden and crisp 5 to 8 minutes. Don't let them burn!

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Your Comments


Geneve
July 9, 2006

I LOVE this idea! Thanks for sharing. I imagine these would be great topped with some tuna tartar and avocado... My mind is whirling with lots of applications for these crackers!

 

Amy
July 9, 2006

Heidi you are endlessly creative! I'm thinking a cinnamon sugar one might be good or a Moroccan spiced one with cinnamon and cumin.

 

feli
July 9, 2006

What a great Idea!!! I always have left over wonton skins that I dont know what to do with. Now I know thanks for idea.

 

Faith
July 9, 2006

These are adorable! I imagine this would also be an easy, fun snack activity for little kids - what with pre-rolled dough and all. I know a three-year-old who might be making her own animal crackers soon...

 

Elise
July 9, 2006

I love the little dark sesame seeds as eyes. How adorable!

 

Melissa
July 9, 2006

I can see these working with garlic or basil oil and grated parmesan cheese. I can also see butter and cinnamon sugar to accompany vanilla ice cream. As a desert by themselves, maybe some chopped macadamia nuts and grated white chocolate, ground almonds and honey, vanilla or banana liqueur. These have a multitude of possibilities.

 

Lydia
July 9, 2006

Brilliant!

 

graham shead
July 9, 2006

I used turbanado sugar and served with tangerine sobet

 

Micah
July 9, 2006

Maybe a little lemon peel and ginger? Or..... chai-spiced? Me loves chai. =D

 

Souris
July 9, 2006

Hey Heidi, this is a great idea and incredibly cute. However, I want to hear more about your fresh and baked spring rolls! When are you going to share those?

 

tangaloor
July 9, 2006

I agree these cookies are cute & a great idea, but I want to hear more about the panna cotta! How did it turn out with agar? How was the texture? lovely shots as usual, heidi!

 

Heidi
July 9, 2006

Guess I'm not all that clever, I just noticed Delicious Days has fried wonton chips on their site from two weeks ago. Maybe its in the air or something...

Souris! Some of those recipes are going in my book. Let me know if you want a sneak peek or want to test the baked spring rolls for me ;) Either way you'll see them soon enough. Or, even better, I'll make them for you in your fancy-pants kitchen next time I come to visit you and The Don in LA.

 

Heidi
July 9, 2006

Thanks Tangaloor,

The panna cotta is another one I've been working on for my book. I've been experimenting with agar flakes (and now powder) as a thickener. I love it. Neutral tasting, fantastic thickening properties, derived from sea-weed, all-natural...It also sets at room temperature, you don't have to chill like gelatin. The trick is figuring out how much to use. With something delicate like panna cotta you don't want to go overboard or you end up with a slab of rubber, err on the other side and you don't get a set. A few things I've learned: if you are using acidic ingredients you need to bump up the amount of agar. Also, certain fruits break down its enzymes, and it won't set - quite a lot of trpoical fruits actually.

Maybe I'll do a series of recipes using agar in the coming weeks if people are interested, I'm anxious to use it more and have some ideas I'd like to try out.

So, the panna cotta will be in the book, as well as the baked spring rolls. Can't wait to share those recipes.

More about gelatin on Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gelatin

 

David
July 9, 2006

I love the idea. They sound nice and easy to make and there isnt a whole lot you can do with wonton wrappers and the like so this is something I will definately try.

I also would like the agar recipe as it would be nice to have a couple of room temperature setting 'jellies'. Do they set quickly?

-David

 

Stefanie
July 9, 2006

Cutest food I've seen in a while!

 

amanda
July 10, 2006

omg, thos are too cute! they look like the multi-seed flat breads from trader joe's only in mega cute animal shapes! great post.

 

fanny
July 10, 2006

Wow, these are SO cute. I'm sure they were delicious along with the ginger pannacotta (and by the way i can't wait to discover all the treasures of your new cookbook! -- and i'll be happy to test the recipes for you if needed)

xoxo
Fanny

 

Jess
July 10, 2006

Heidi,

What an adorable idea...I too am looking forward to the panna cotta recipe and can't wait to see your book! When did you say it's coming out?

Jess

 

stef
July 10, 2006

you could cut the wrappers into thin strips and deep-fry them (or bake). serve these as snacks or appetizers with an Asian-flavored dip. These strips can also be used in dim-sum type meat, shrimp or fish balls -- coat them in the wrapper strips and deep-fry or bake. (Bake for a healthier treat, but deep-frying really works best as the strips curl up and become an even golden brown.

 

Esther
July 10, 2006

Heidi I think it is the most wonderful experiment one can do with the leftover wanton wrappers.

Though this cracker reminded me of the typically Asian cracker made of rice or flour, yet I feel that Asian cuisine can adapt this cracker to make the sweet tuck that you had rolled out.

{The best thing that I have come across in a cracker typical to Asian cuisine is its appetising quality. You can deep fry or roast the cracker and make it as a salsa, bake it with lots of cheese or make oil-free chips out of them.

As far as seasoning is concerned you have shown your creativity, but you can also make your cracker spread to go along with it.

In Asia we sprinkle deep-fried, spicy crackers with lots of lime juice, cucumbers, tomatoes and chilies.

 

Nic
July 10, 2006

How cute! I just love finding new ways to use cookie cutters.

 

Latifa
July 10, 2006

LOVE THE IDEA THANKS

 

Rich
July 10, 2006

Very creative idea, but I don't think the pictures do them justice. They remind me of some birdfeed crackers we made in our Scout Troop. I'm sure they are delicious but the pictures make me want to hang them from our trees.

 

tangaloor
July 10, 2006

Thanks, Heidi. Had a feeling the mentioned dishes were for the book--piles upon piles of wontons sounds like recipe testing to me :) Can't wait to see it!

Regarding the vegetarian panna cotta, I've also considered using konnyaku to set veg gelatin type dishes. The prepared jellies I've had made with this substance are much more jelly-like than I've found with agar. Has anybody here tried konnyaku (or glucomannan, its setting agent) for this purpose?

 

Peach
July 10, 2006

I love your idea with the cookie cutters. I was taking left over wrappers and making little cones with them. Sweetened and served with red bean ice cream in them or savory with tuna tartare or seviche in them.

 

Carla
July 10, 2006

Dear Heidi
My sister has an alergy to wheat,are there any cakes or cookies made withou flour?I want to bake some sweets for her.
I would be so grateful.
Thank you for your website,I LOVE it.
Sincerely Carla

 

jenny
July 10, 2006

just stummbled upon your site! the photographs...They are stellar! are you are prof photographer?

 

susan g
July 10, 2006

next segue...can you use the rice paper wraps this way? I got some that are quarter-circles and would love some guidance!
...and curious about cookbook making: maybe a post, biography of a cookbook?

 

Human
July 11, 2006

Briliant !

 

Rachael
July 11, 2006

That is just about the cutest thing ever...and such a clever idea! Thanks!

 

Ruth
July 11, 2006

Thanks so much for the idea. I was wondering what I was going to do with the eggroll wrappers I bought.

So all sorts of savory crackers await my friends who are coming for lunch tomorrow and will accompany the lima bean & mint dip and the smoky chipotle hummus.

Thanks for spurring me on

 

Marilyn
July 11, 2006

A fabulous idea, and unbelievably cute and fun.

 

JAYAKAANNTHAN
July 11, 2006

Nothing its every thing is simple and good to evalaute it.Although I am a Catering Student it helps me lot over in my daily classes.

Thanks

 

St├ęphane
July 12, 2006

You are a genius!!! I love these crackers, they seem so simple, but beautiful! Hummm, and I always buy too much wontons when I make Raviolis... Thank you! Beautiful pictures...

 

mrscrumley
July 12, 2006

Something I will definitely try.

 

Estelle
July 12, 2006

Testing recipes? Wow, I would love to be your guinea pig! Just let me know how I can help :)

 

christianne
July 12, 2006

Those are so adorable. I've been using my leftover wonton wrappers to make beet root ravioli, but I definitely think these crackers are worth a try.

 

Briana
July 12, 2006

Ah! Synchronicity! I've been pondering the xtra wonton wrapper myself quite a bit lately to no avail... This is brilliant - seriously. Thank you my dear!

 

Lisa B.
July 12, 2006

I've been looking for a vegetarian panna cotta recipe. Please do post it! And the crackers are adorable.

 

Stephanie
July 12, 2006

wow - those are adorable, and a fantastic idea:) thanks so much for sharing it!

 

chanelle
July 13, 2006

what a SPLENDID idea! love it!!!! you are so very creative. i always bake my extra wonton wrappers up for alternative chips - but this - this takes the cake! (or cracker...)

my son would LOVE these. now, i just need to find animal cookie cutters - any suggestions?

 

Gigi
July 13, 2006

Love this.. you are simply awesome!

 

Duane
July 13, 2006

I like it. Very Creative.

 

Martha
July 14, 2006

What a great idea! I love crispy little crackers, and now I know what I can do with my fancy cookie cutters. It might not be the ideal weather to turn on my oven--it's really hot here in NYC--but I have a feeling I'll be picking up a package of wonton wrappers this weekend!

Martha

 

Shaula Evans
July 14, 2006

My nephews would be wild about the crackers -- all the more so if they were dinosaur shaped! What a great idea.

 

Matt
July 15, 2006

I think someone should make some bear crackers.

 

 

mj
July 16, 2006

my mom has been using them in salads for a few years now. Very delicious! she fries them though, but i think baking is a much better idea.

we also use them as a topping with chinese rice porridge.

 

Cin
July 17, 2006

Thanks for sharing this great idea. I love that you can use different cookie cutters to make them look extra adorable.

 

jessemsb
July 17, 2006

I quite liked some of the things on here thanks.

 

kitchenbeard
July 25, 2006

I am SO stealing this for my next catering gig.