Thursday, February 12, 2015

Animal Cookies

Aren't these just the cutest little cookies ever?  Homemade animal cookies, my friend.  Simple and DELICIOUS and without the random multi-syllable chemical ingredients and random preservatives that the store-bought ones have.  You don't actually NEED the special animal cookies cutters, but they are super awesome and, let's face it, ADORABLE.  If you want a set, you can find them here.  The awesome thing about these cutters is that they have a pop-up button.  You place the cutter on the dough and then press a little button that lowers a piece that presses the detail into the animal.  SOLD.  I have way way too many cookie cutters, but these are WORTH IT.  I wish I could find more like this!  Tip:  flour the heck out of these cutters before use!

Anyway, back to the actual cookies.  I have always loved animal crackers (as they were called when I was growing up).  They used to come in that little red box that looked like a circus car or something, remember?  Ahh, I am probably aging myself.  Anyway, when I received a set of the animal cookie cutters as a gift, I clearly needed to make my own batch of these little treats.

And, no surprise here, the homemade ones are WORLDS better than the ones from the store!  They aren't as break-your-tooth hard, and they have a delicious flavor.  Yum.  The recipe is from King Arthur Flour, and it calls for one of their specific extracts, Princess Cake and Cookie Flavor.  I do not have this so I substituted vanilla extract and lemon extract, on the advice of one of the people who reviewed the recipe on the KAF site.  I have no idea what the Princess flavor tastes like, but supposedly it is vanilla/lemon-ish.  Regardless, my substitution was delicious, so it worked for me! 

Animal Cookies
makes a ton (recipe says 80-90), I got way more than that!
3/4 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/4 cup sugar
3 TB honey
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon Princess Cake and Cookie Flavor, OR 3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract + 1/4 teaspoon lemon extract
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup oat flour, or finely ground rolled oats

In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat together the butter, sugar, honey, salt, baking soda and flavor/extracts until combined.  Add the flour and oat flour and mix to combine.  Divide the dough in half and make into flattened disks.  Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

Preheat the oven to 350F.  Line several baking sheets with parchment.

Take one piece of dough out of the refrigerator, leaving the other in to stay cool.  Place it on a lightly floured surface and roll the dough 1/4 inch thick.  (Mine were probably thinner, thus my zillion cookies!)

Dip the animal cookie cutters in flour (very important!) then cut the dough and transfer to prepared baking sheets.  You can place these pretty close together, as they don't spread much at all.  Place the cookie sheet with the cut out cookies in the freezer for about 15 minutes.  This helps the cookies retain their shape and details.  Bake for 8-10 minutes, until they are lightly browned around the edges.  Remove from the oven and let them cool on the cookie sheet for a few minutes, until they are set.  Transfer the cookies to a rack and allow to cool completely.  Repeat with the remaining dough.
Printable Recipe

These are delicious.  They are dangerously small, making it very easy to justify eating 4-5 in a sitting, or popping in a few every time you walk near the kitchen.  The clever boy LOVED them.  They will become a regular item in our house!

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