Animal Crackers or Cookies

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ANIMAL CRACKERS OR COOKIES by Sarah Phillips and Kelly CA © 3-5-2013 Sarah Phillips
Makes about 100 1 1/2-inch cookies

Food styling and photos by Kelly CA © Sarah Phillips
Sarah and I have been wanting to make a homemade alternative to store-bought animal crackers or cookies for quite some time. We tweaked and altered and tweaked some more and came up with an absolute winner! Crispy, crunchy, and cute, these adorable cookies taste just like the real thing.
I used the Fox Run Animal Mini Cookie Cutter Set to make these cookies. This cutter set is uber cute!

2 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour; spoon into measuring cup and level to rim
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon ground mace

3/4 cup (12 tablespoons or 1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter
1/4 cup sugar
3 tablespoons mild honey
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon lemon extract
1 to 2 tablespoons whole or 2% milk
Make the cookie dough:
1. Sift the flour, salt, baking soda and mace into a large bowl.

2. Put the butter in the bowl of a stand mixer and beat with the paddle attachment, on medium low speed, until softened.
Then add the sugar, in a steady stream at the side of the bowl.

Beat for about 30 seconds, then add the honey.

When the honey is combined, add the vanilla and the lemon extracts. Mix for about 15 seconds, then scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula.

3. Add the dry ingredients and mix on low until combined. The mixture should form large crumbs, but will be somewhat dry.

4. Add one tablespoon of milk and mix on low. If the mixture is still too dry to clump together and form a dough, dribble in the second tablespoon of milk, stopping when the dough starts to clump together. Do not overmix the dough.

5. Gather the dough together, then pat it into a disk. Cut the disk in half and wrap both halves in plastic wrap.
Place disks in the refrigerator for about an hour to chill.

Bake the cookies:
1. Position the oven shelves in the upper and lower thirds of the oven. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silpat nonstick baking mats. (Do not grease the baking sheets.) Set aside.

2. When dough is chilled, roll one disk out on a lightly floured surface to about 1/4-inch thick.
Cut cookies out with the cutters and place the prepared baking sheet, about 1-inch apart.

3. Use the tip of a narrow chopstick, or a wooden skewer, to impress eyes in all of the cookies, being careful not to go all the way through.

4. You may add other textures to the cookies, if you desire. A fluted cutting wheel makes a nice feather impression on the owls. Do not press all the way through.

5. Bake the cookies for 7-8 minutes or until they are just set.
You do not want them to brown, but the bottoms of the cookies will be light golden brown when done.

Serve cookies to your kids with a cold glass of milk, or sneak some with your afternoon coffee and enjoy a little bit of tasty nostalgia yourself. :)

THe baked cookies store well in an airtight container for a week. They also freeze well for a month or more; thaw in its wrappers at room temperature.
The cookie dough can be refrigerated for a few days. Freeze the cookie dough for about a month; thaw in its wrappers in the refrigerator.

Food styling and photos by Kelly CA © Sarah Phillips