April 18th is National Animal Crackers Day–so our first instinct is to go out and buy a bag of the things. They’re pretty cheap. Kind of iconic, too, since people in the United States began to crave these delights during the late 1800s. Stauffer’s Biscuit Company took the lead in 1871 and became the first company to mass-produce animal crackers. Nabisco Brands also began to make these crackers and, in 1902, debuted the well-known circus theme box “Barnum’s Animals.” [photo via flicker]
Nabisco pretty much owned the market after that. But we’re giving them serious competition now that we’ve bought some animal-shaped cookie cutters and tried making our own at home. It’s easier than we expected, and was also plenty of fun for the kids. Go ahead and check out the recipe–and don’t wait until next April 18th to make your own…
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 1 stick butter
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 egg
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon allspice
- ½ cup oats
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 ½ cups flour
- 2 tablespoons cocoa powder (optional)
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
- Cream together the brown sugar and butter.
- Add in the vanilla and egg and combine well.
- Mix in the allspice, cinnamon and salt.
- Add in the flour, oats, baking powder and optional cocoa powder. Cocoa powder should be subbed for flour. This can be down by simply adding the cocoa powder to the measuring cup and then fill the rest of the measuring cup with flour.
- Mix the ingredients together well and form a ball. Store the dough in the refrigerator for at least one hour or overnight.
- Pull the dough from the refrigerator and allow it to warm up to room temperature for about five minutes. Grab a hunk off and begin to roll it out to ¼ inches thick.
- Cut out the crackers with a cookie cutter shaped as animals and place them on a cookie sheet that is lined with parchment paper.
- Bake the animal crackers for 5 to 7 minutes in the oven. Allow the crackers to cool to room temperature.
Now you are able to have your very own homemade zoo animal crackers anytime you like for a simple snack. And here’s a helpful hint for cutting out the animals: Dip the cookie cutters into flour before cutting the shapes from the dough. This will give a nice, clean cut on each animal cracker.