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.

If you make this recipe, I'd love to see it - tag it #101cookbooks on Instagram!

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Comments

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

    Sneh
  • Those are so cute!

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

    Lynn Bruce
  • 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

    Cookie Maker
  • 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

    baking chamber
  • 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.

    John
  • 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 :-)

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

    Tea
  • 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.

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

    Samantha
  • 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.

    D
  • 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!

    kristina
  • 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!

    Jessica
  • 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.:)

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

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

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

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

    AngelaofCookingImprov
  • So cute! I want a tiger one!

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

    Tomasina
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