Way back when I was a kid, animal crackers that came in a little circus box were only for special occasions. The taste of the actual cookie was a little bland, but we all loved the little box and playing with the lions, zebras, elephants and giraffes. Kids today have a lot more choices and, it seems, a lot more dietary restrictions.
Enter the new animal cracker/cookie. Because it's homemade, you can adjust the recipe to suit your tastes and diet. This recipe easily can be made gluten-free and it doesn't contain any refined sugar. Plus it's much tastier than the original circus crackers!
Our recipe, adapted from one by King Arthur Flour, uses almond flour instead of oat flour. We use the same style of spring-loaded cookie cutters (available in our store), but you can use any miniature size cookie cutter or just cut our little squares of dough and prick them with a knife to put a pattern on them.
ingredients & equipment
Love Oreos but not so much the stuff inside? These treats should appeal to you. Perfect for dunking in milk, these tender, delicate, crumbly chocolate cookies are gluten-free, egg-free and can be easily made vegan, as well. We made them as drop-and-smash cookies and mini cut-out cookies. We sprinkled the tops with sugar in the raw for a little sparkle a little more sweetness.
These cookies have an intense chocolate flavor and practically melt in your mouth. They are best the same day as baked, but the dough refrigerates and freezes well for quick bakes anytime. Our founder/inventor didn't want to share these cookies, so we popped the extras into the freezer.
Recipe is adapted from Jerrelle Guy, Black Girl Baking.
option - rolled cookies
We also made these are rolled mini-cookies. We rolled dough about 1/4-inch tick, then cut out small butterflies. We baked these cookies, which were about half the size of the ones above, about 6 minutes.
These no-bake treats are perfect for after-school snacks, post workout pick-me-ups, or team snacks. They're loaded with healthy ingredients and delicious to boot. Just don't eat too many - they pack around 125 calories each.
We made ours in a stand mixer (naturally), which allows you to easily combine tough-to-mix ingredients and double your recipe without wearing out your mixing elbow. The entire measuring and mixing process took less than 10 minutes. After a 30 minute cooling period, the balls came together in about 5 minutes.
Pictured are our selected combinations, based on what we had on hand. Almond butter-chia-almond-golden-raisin; almond butter-chia-coconut-mini chocolate chip; and almond butter-cranberry-white chocolate.
You can substitute your favorites and develop your own combinations using whichever ingredients you find in your pantry. These are gluten-free if you used an oat brand certified as such (Bob's Red Mill makes one) and can also be nut-free with a butter substitution.
SUGGESTED RECIPE COMBINATIONS
For nut allergies: In place of the almond or peanut butter, try sunflower seed butter.
NUTRITION INFORMATION: One ball = one serving. For the chocolate chip peanut butter version: Calories: 123, Total Fat: 6g, Saturated Fat: 2g, Sodium: 27mg, Carbohydrates: 16g, Fiber: 2g, Sugar: 9g, Protein: 3g.
Here's our latest recommendation in the SideSwipe Chocolate Chip Cookie Month bakeoff. Almond flour is the secret ingredient in these "healthier" crisp and tender chocolate chip cookies from King Arthur Flour. The texture is a bit grainy like a pecan sandie; a non-greasy shortbread. This is a good cookie, never mind that it's gluten free! We're definitely going to add it to our rotation and use it as a base for other cookies.
To play up the almond meal, we substituted almond extract for half the vanilla and added a few chopped, toasted almonds. We also used Guittard's super cookie chips for a fun, bold look. They're non GMO, peanut and gluten-free. The sprinkle of salt was just for the photos. It doesn't enhance the flavor.
You can make these cookies dairy-free by using coconut oil in place of the butter, but you should chill it to get a good creaming, which creates the structure of the cookie. Coconut oil produces a cookie that is more dense than butter, but still tasty.
For the chewiest cookies, eat them warm from the oven. Store any remaining cookies in an airtight container at room temperature for up to three days.
Makes about 24-30 mini cookies (pictured) or 14 2.5-inch cookies. We think it tasted better in its 2-bite mini size.
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