Gluten-Free + Vegan Animal Crackers for Kids of All Ages

 

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I have vague but delicious memories of animal crackers as a child, a rare and special treat to be given a box of Barnum’s Animals all to myself, to open the package and to pick out each animal one by one, savoring it before reaching in for another.

Later in my teen years, I discovered the pink and white frosting and sprinkle version of animal crackers and they too became their own ritual, a big bag to share on a school road trip, or otherwise special occasion.

 

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Until last spring I’d forgotten about animal crackers and then one quick weekend getaway, walking the aisles of the local co-op, I saw the “natural” brand versions of these childhood treats and unexpectedly found that a little handful of those delicious crackers would be just the sweet I needed. Unfortunately, even within the allergen-free and natural brands, animal crackers that I can actually enjoy safely are pretty difficult to track down, so I set out to make my own.

What began as a whim and a craving became a tiny lovely treat that both William and I love to snack on after dinner, and taking this childhood favorite into our adult years, we found they pair particularly well with a Sicilian Rosé we tend to favor.  ;)

 

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This recipe is part of my monthly contribution to The Recipe Redux, a recipe challenge founded by registered dietitians and focused on taking delicious dishes, keeping them delicious, but making them better for you. The theme this month is Kids That Cook and we’re recreating some of our childhood favorites or what we’re cooking with kids now. While I never made animal crackers as a child, I did bake a lot of cookies, make playdough, and loved to watch my mom make a special occasion gooey cinnamon swirl bread which somehow was even better because it was our neighbor’s recipe.

What were your favorite childhood foods, homemade or otherwise?

 

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Animal Crackers {GF + Vegan}, makes about 100
Roll these to your desired thickness. I prefer them extra thin, William enjoys a little more cookie width. Also make sure to give a good pinch of nutmeg (make sure it’s fresh), as it really makes the difference. 

1 1/3 cups Gluten-Free Flour Blend
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
generous pinch of nutmeg and a little pinch of cinnamon
1/4 cup cashew butter
3 Tbs. unsweetened applesauce
1/3 cup organic cane sugar
1 Tbs. ground flax + 2 Tbs. warm water – thickened for 5 minutes
1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract

  • In a small bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients and set aside.
  • In a larger bowl, whip the cashew butter with a fork until creamy and then add the applesauce and sugar and mix until thoroughly combined. Then add the flax and water mixture and vanilla  and blend it all together.
  • Add the dry ingredients slowly into the wet mixture and stir until the mixture comes together into a cookie dough ball.
  • Cover the bowl of dough well and chill in the fridge for at least an hour.
  • When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  • Coat a flat surface with a little flour and roll about 1/3 of the dough to 1/4″ thickness. Using mini animal cookie cutters, cut out the cookies. If you’d like to make them a little more realistic, simply use a toothpick to create an eye for each animal.
  • Place on a baking sheet and bake for 8-10 minutes, just until the edges begin to lightly brown.
  • Continue to roll out and bake the remaining cookies.

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