Animal Cracker Cookies

Animal Cracker Cookies Recipe


I picked up a box of cute, animal shaped cookie cutters at Williams-Sonoma the other day. The box contained one lion, one tiger, one giraffe, an elephant, and a seal with a ball on its nose. And although it took two tries, my second attempt at a dough worked out nicely - a couple of my favorite two-year-old friends told me so. Made from whole wheat pastry flour, a dollop of coconut oil, shredded coconut, ground walnuts, a touch of salt, and as little sugar as I thought I could get away with, the cookies baked up fragrant, golden and crisp.

Animal Cracker Cookies

I should mention that some of the circus animals are better behaved than others. The lion and tiger, with their open shapes, were a breeze to stamp out. The elephant was pretty great too - aside from the occasional missing trunk mishap. On the other side of the spectrum, I had a number of beheaded giraffes.

Animal Cracker Cookies

For those of you who are curious, my first attempt dabbled with olive oil as the fat, and honey as the sweetener - I wanted to explore a non-granulated sweetener in this type of cookie/cracker. They came out dry as Mojave Desert - dry, dry, suck the last drop of moisture from your mouth dry, and not very tasty on top of that. I took a moment to say good-bye to those little lions and tigers, and they spent the rest of the afternoon lounging around the compost bag.

Animal Cracker Cookies

I know some of you are going to ask - I don't see why you couldn't substitute unsalted butter for the coconut oil if you like, it should work out fine, but I haven't tested that variation. I should also mention how important it is to chop the shredded coconut in these cookies into tiny, tiny, flecks - this way it won't look like your animals have "grass" stuck to their feet, and will make stamping out the cookies easier.

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Animal Cracker Cookie Recipe

The kind of coconut oil you purchase is key. You want it to actually smell like coconut. You want pure, unrefined coconut oil - it will likely have the words virgin or extra-virgin and (hopefully) organic on the jar. If you see the word "refined" on the jar, find a different brand. I've just finished off a jar of Nutiva, and really enjoyed cooking with it - but there are other great brands out there as well. You can make your own walnut (or almond meal) by pulsing almonds in a food processor until it is the texture of sand - don't go too far or you'll end up with almond butter. For added depth feel free to use lightly toasted shredded coconut.

1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1/4 cup walnut of almond meal (see head notes)
1/2 cup unsweetened finely shredded coconut, very finely minced
1/4 cup extra-virgin coconut oil, softened
1/3 cup fine-grain natural cane sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 large egg, lightly beaten

a few tablespoons big-grain turbinado sugar

Whisk the flour, walnut meal and shredded coconut together in a medium bowl. Set aside. In a separate medium bowl, beat the coconut oil with the sugar and salt until it's smooth and looks a bit like a brown sugar frosting. Beat in the egg until everything is uniform in appearance. Add the flour mixture and stir just until incorporated. Turn the dough out onto the counter-top, knead it once or twice and gather it into a ball. Cut the dough in half, flatten each piece, wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour.

When you are ready to bake the cookies, preheat the oven to 350F degrees. Place the racks in the middle and line a couple baking sheets with parchment paper. On a floured work surface roll the dough out 1/8-inch thick. If the dough cracks, let it sit and warm up for a couple more minutes. Stamp out shapes with floured cookie cutters and place the cookies an inch apart on the baking sheets, sprinkle with a bit of the turbinado sugar. Bake until the cookie are just beginning to color at the edges 7-8 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool the cookies on racks if you have them.

Makes about 2 dozen cookies, depending on the size of your cookie cutters.

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Comments


Tomasina

Hey you are the true "maverick", lol. Great job. You know what i just finish watching, lol. The animals are sooo cute.

October 2, 2008
 

So cute! I want a tiger one!

October 2, 2008
 

AngelaofCookingImprov

Perfect. Just what I'm looking for. My neighbor's twins are my favorite little boys and I want to make these for them.

October 2, 2008
 

These are beautiful!

I added you to my blogroll, by the way - I always love your recipes. Hope that's okay!

October 2, 2008
 

I love these. We are throwing a baby shower for a friend soon and these will make perfect party favors.

October 2, 2008
 

Thanks so much for this recipe! I can't wait to see what my two-year-old son thinks of it!

October 2, 2008
 

katycooks

Heidi-I'm a newcomer & want to thank you for your journal...so much more than recipes; just adore it. These cookies are EXACTLY what I want for my 3yrold nephew who has largely "grown out" of autism (with a wonderful program) but who still watches his diet to continue healthy development. Bless your heart for this one.:)

October 2, 2008
 

Jessica

We have these cookie cutters, too, but I haven't had the time or energy to find a good recipe for them. Thanks!! Can't wait to try this - maybe this weekend!

October 2, 2008
 

Haha, I love the prose on this one. I needed a good animal cracker recipe! I will try to find coconut oil here and give them a try!

October 2, 2008
 

D

Just the other day, I finally was able to make time to bake Nikki's Healthy Cookies. It was delicious and I love using the coconut oil.

Since then, I had dispose my canola oil and will never purchase another bottle of canola oil ever again. I'm starting to check food labels for canola oil as one of the ingredients. I was dissappointed that some salad dressings and hummus at TJs contained canola oil or canola oil and olive oil blend. Thanks to you and the readers for an education on canola oil.

Nikki's Healthy Cookie tastes great and I can't believe that it tastes so good without any type of sweetners, flour, eggs, or dairy. (I ommitted the cinnamon since I like to taste the full flavor of banana.) I love it!

This morning I cooked Grandma's Grains and is loving that too. Thank you again for having a great blog with tasty and healthy recipes.

October 2, 2008
 

I just love these! I am so saving this recipe for my future kiddies one day! Simply adorable!

October 2, 2008
 

Apres Ski

Would have loved to see the a giraffe or two. But this is perfect for the bored 2 & 3 year olds looking for something to do . . .

When I get time, I'm going to try this and pray the giraffes will be in tact.

October 2, 2008
 

This recipe is going back to Seattle with me--I've got two little moppets up there who will love to make these. Thanks!

October 2, 2008
 

cooker

Hi Heidi
I have been following your posts for sometime now. I think what is amazing about your "work" is that its so different from the usual traditional recipes.I'm learning about ingredients I didnt know existed :-) You also have this skill of writing so well that everything you make sounds "technicolor" if thats the word to use. Esp when you use words like "the fruit burst forth & bled color into the cake".....I feel like I'm watching a NatGeo :-) .
This comment is too long already.....I just wanted to ask how you manage to transfer the cookies to the sheet after stamping out. They look so fragile already :-)

October 2, 2008
 

John

Perhaps; "Animal Crackers with a California Academy of Sciences education" ? Or "Animal Crackers with a PhD"?

Tomasina: I would never put Heidi in the "maverick" camp now, that term is ruined for me.

October 2, 2008
 

OMG, those are just so cute that I just want to eat them up! they're just so adorable and i bet fun to make! thanks for the post

October 2, 2008
 

Cookie Maker

I am wondering - what is the latest word on coconut oil and health? It used to be considered one of the worst oils in terms of saturated fats. Now I am hearing it is healthy. Does anyone out there know the truth about coconut oil? Thanks!

HS: Hi CM, I cover this in more depth in Super Natural Cooking, but in short the fats & oils I like to use nearly always meet a few criteria - they are often made by simply pressing the oil from the fruit or nut, they have been used for hundreds/thousands of years in traditional cultures, and they smell and taste of the source ingredients - all natural, minimally processed. Unrefined, natural coconut oil fits this criteria for me. Many island cultures with diets rich in coconut oil (and unprocessed foods in general), saw very few cases of "western" diseases before processed foods washed up on their shores. That being said, I use a wide range of fats & oils in my cooking, and try to use them in a balanced way in relation to the rest of my diet. -h

October 2, 2008
 

Lynn Bruce

Would these work without the coconut? I really dislike coconut.

October 2, 2008
 

Those are so cute!

October 2, 2008
 

oooh yummo! how adorable!! can i have some??

October 2, 2008
 

These look super! I have recently acquired a Kangaroo shaped cookie cutter in honour of family who are heading off to Australia for a year from Ireland.
While I always use a simple butter, lemon, flour and sugar recipe, this is definately going to go down a treat!
With a bit of luck, the family will make like boomerangs and come back to us soon!
Thanks Heidi!

October 3, 2008
 

Now, you're making me regret passing up the animal cutters at Williams-Sonomsa...

October 3, 2008
 

Laura

I was wondering what I could substitute instead of walnut or almond meal. I am allergic to nuts, but really wanted to make these cookies!!

October 3, 2008
 

This is exactly my kind of recipe!
I always look for alternatives when it comes to cookie dough. I usually want to reduce the fat and the sugar but too afraid to mess around with the amounts...don't want them to turn all dry.

So thank you for this! Great :)

October 3, 2008
 

DARLING cracker-cookies!!

October 3, 2008
 

Adorable! My kiddos would love this.

Thanks for mentioning how to pick out a "good" coconut oil. I get asked that in my classes quite a lot these days b/c apparently coconut oil is en vogue for the wellness crew as some magic panacea. I do tell them if it doesn't SMELL like coconut then it is most likely refined and whatever natural benefits that are in the oil have been lost. Still, fat is fat, good fat or bad fat, and should be consumed in moderation. Hey... I'm WAY off topic here.

Lovely cookies!

October 3, 2008
 

These are about the cutest cookies ever! They might be difficult to pull off gluten-free, but if I ever feel daring, I'll try substituting a mix of sorghum and brown rice flour (and a few other odds and ends). I love using coconut oil for baking as well. And sauteing. And as a skin lotion. Lots of good uses for coconut oil.
This is such a fun post; even if I never use the recipe, I've thoroughly enjoyed it. The photos are some of your best!
Melissa

October 3, 2008
 

Heidi, these cookies are adorable!! I love that you incorporated walnut meal and coconut oil.

A few of the comments above asked about coconut oil - I recently wrote an indepth article on the benefits that it holds.

If anyone is interested, they can check out the article here:
http://livewell360.com/2008/08/coconut-oil-the-magic-potion/

Sheila

October 3, 2008
 

Lee Cockrum

Even when you post about things that are not particularly to my taste, I want to make them cause you take such great photos, and make them sound so tasty, and not TOO difficult!! And most of the stuff does sound great to me, even without your lovely photos etc!

October 3, 2008
 

MSMama

I just saw a Cook's Illustrated tip for dealing with fragile forms like the giraffes and elephants: roll out the dough right onto the parchment/Silpat, stamp out the cookies as close together as possible, and remove the dough between. I haven't tried it yet, but it seems to have great possibilities.
Love the site and your recipes!

October 3, 2008
 

Heidi, these are too cute! I love them. I have a photo-related question...how do you light your photos? Is it always natural light? I absolutely swoon over your blog, especially the pictures. I'm always wondering just how you do it! :)

HS: Yes, I always use natural (or available) light. No artificial lights.

October 3, 2008
 

They look adorable....

October 3, 2008
 

Is it just me, or would these make excellent wedding or party favours? I think receiving a little bag of these would make guests of all ages feel welcome.

October 3, 2008
 

These are just lovely! Thanks!

October 3, 2008
 

Kristin

This is a great recipe! I'd love to make this as a treat to bring to my daughters school except there is a tree nut allergy in her class.

Any suggestions for substituting the nut meal?

Thank you for your wonderful blog I really look forward to reading it.

October 3, 2008
 

Nushma

oh...I would love to bake these..I am constantly looking for healthy treates for my 14 mo. old daughter.but, she is not allowed to eat nuts yet...Heidi, do you think roasted sunflower seeds can be substituted for walnut or almonds?

October 3, 2008
 

Oh my gosh, those are adorable! Great recipe.

October 3, 2008
 

these are quite possibly the cutest animal crackers i've ever seen.

October 3, 2008
 

Ooh i haven't baked with coconut oil before but sounds like a great thing to try. And just bought a bag of Almond Meal (real cheap) at Trader Joe's the other day. These animals are great!

October 3, 2008
 

In my latest issue of Cooks Illustrated there was a great tip for cutting out cookies with soft dough: cut the cookies out on the cookie sheet, that way you don't have tor risk smooshing them when you move them to the sheet. Just roll out the dough on a piece of parchment cut to fit your cookie sheet. Place the parchment with the rolled out dough on to the cookie sheet, cut out the cookies, and then remove the pieces of dough left between the cookies with a small metal spatula.

October 3, 2008
 

Fantastic! Too bad about the honey not working out, the flavor would have been great. What about brushing on a little honey just before they go in the oven?

October 3, 2008
 

Heidi, you are too much. Love these.

October 3, 2008
 

Lily

These are adorably cute!! Thanks for the fun post. I would love to try making these sometime. ;-)

October 3, 2008
 

These are too cute. I might have to buy these cookie cutters! My niece is coming into town soon and she would probably love these.

October 3, 2008
 

These are even cuter than the ones I used to eat when I was a kid. They probably taste much better too!

October 3, 2008
 

Great job!
I moonlight as a KitchenAid consultant, and happen to demo in Williams-Sonoma often. I thought about getting the animal cutters last time I was in, and did not.....next time I will most definitely get them.

October 3, 2008
 

those are darlin..

October 3, 2008
 

Those cookies are just gorgeous. No child (or adult for that matter!) could resist them. Thank you for sharing this recipe. I will have to try it soon for my girls.

October 3, 2008
 

These are so cute!

October 3, 2008
 

Erin in AK

In the lovely photo it looks as though you've sprinkled a touch of coarse sugar on top of each cookie (maybe turbinado?). If so, was this done just after pulling from the oven? And if not...what is that substance atop the animals?

HS: Yes! Good eyes Erin. I sprinkled a bit on top of each cookie before baking. I'll add a note up above.

October 3, 2008
 

LisaBee

Hello Heidi,
I discovered your site about a year ago and visit almost every day now. The writing, the pictures and, of course, the recipes are amazing. In addition you have a wonderful community of people who post on the site. I have learned so much from you in the past year!

I now have both of your books and have made many of your recipes. I also have the W.S. cookie cutters and can't wait to try these. I purchased some coconut oil from Whole Foods to make Nikki's Healthy Cookies (365 Organic Virgin Coconut Oil). It is labeled as "expeller pressed". Does this mean that it is refined? Also, it states "medium heat" (up to 280 degrees). If the oil can only be heated up to 280 degrees does that mean I should not bake in a 350 degree oven? I thought that coconut oil could withstand high heat.

Please let me know so I can start baking!!!

Thank you,
Lisa

October 3, 2008
 

I am jealous! These look fun and yummy!!! Thanks for sharing!!

October 3, 2008
 

Monique

Hello!
This is unrelated to this post but I was wondering how you organize your kitchen! With so many grains and salts and sugars I have trouble keeping them neat and easily accessible.
I would love to see a post about your kitchen

October 3, 2008
 

These cookies look amazing---and I love that they use WW flour! I have some almond meal that I'd been wanting to to use....so thanks! :)

October 3, 2008
 

I'd like to pretend that there were children that I will share these with when I eventually make them.... but rather I will eat them all with a big glass of milk. Yum.

By the way, I also added to you to my blogroll.

October 3, 2008
 

bree

Yeah for a great recipe. My mother-in-law gave me these cookie cutters, but my son is allergic to dairy, so I wasn't able to use the recipe on the box and I have been unsuccessful in finding another recipe that was able to hold the shapes.

October 3, 2008
 

sky

Thank you for the recipe - I've never tried making animal cracker cookies before. But where do I find the tiny cookie cutters?

October 3, 2008
 

What an awesome recipe, thanks for sharing it. I love using coconut oil in place of butter in my baking, it adds such a nice texture to baked good and the flavor is awesome... not to mention the health benefits.

October 3, 2008
 

sunil

Great art in the cookies, whenever someone makes his/her favourite dish, or say a chocolate and carving some design into it, then it looks very fine, and people also get especially the children get a much enjoyment through eating it. Really the long vision of you is just more appreciating, H'di. (nice making)

Sunil.

October 4, 2008
 

These are really cute and completely unexpected.

October 4, 2008
 

Carol Tibbs

I made Nicki's cookies and i added some ground plump raisins and some raspberry cho-chips, along with olive instead of coconut oil. They were so good and a big hit with my granddaughter, i told her since she liked them so much i would name them after her. Next time i will put less cho chips in a little too sweet for me, other wise, great.

October 4, 2008
 

Animal crackers are deadly, they're so delicious and fun to eat that I can't stop. They're so cheap at the store that I always pick up a bag like I'm going to buy them but usually put them back. I'll make these when I get home but since I don't have coconut oil I'll try it with something else. They look delicious and mostly nutritious!

October 4, 2008
 

I used these cookie cutters and the enclosed recipe to make favors for my kid's circus-themed birthday party last month, and also iced some of the animals to use as cake toppers. They were so cute and yummy. A bit tricky at first to cut out, but eventually got the hang of it. I'll definitely have to give your recipe a try.

October 4, 2008
 

I just bought animal crackers today for my daughter - $2 for a giant bag!

But these look SO good!!

October 4, 2008
 

I LOVE that you featured animal crackers! They're probably one of my favorite treats in the world and I've wondered many times how to recreate a version at home without the artificial ingredients featured in the store-bought products. Thanks so much!

Also love the results from the darling cutters--is W-S paying you for promoting these? They should be!

October 4, 2008
 

these are absolutely adorable. in the absence of little children, i'm going to make them for all the 35-year-old in my life.

October 5, 2008
 

TMonster

My little niece would love these. Just wanted to share that I'm a novice cook but I've tried a few recipes from this site and they've turned out great! I have a few other cookbooks that gather dust on my shelf but this site has recipes that are easy, interesting, and healthy so I'm ordering both your books today. I just made the Slurptastic Herb Noodles last night (minus the coconut milk since I didn't have any) -- so so so good. My boyfriend ate 4 bowls full! This will be a repeat for our foggy SF evenings.

October 5, 2008
 

beautiful!

October 5, 2008
 

TMonster

Update 1: I just made the spinach rice gratin for lunch -- another winner! I didn't have pine nuts so I used walnuts.

Update 2: I ordered Cook 1.0 and SNC on Amazon this morning. Will keep you posted on my attempts.

I am just so thrilled to find a healthy, easy source of interesting recipes since I am a such newbie in the kitchen!!

October 5, 2008
 

MEA

When I need finley minced unsweetened coconut i use Dessicated coconut. Works great in candies as well. This can be found in speciality bakery shops and catalogs like Maid of Scandinavia I think they are still in business).

October 5, 2008
 

These cookies are adorable!

October 5, 2008