These are a total trip-down-memory-lane kind of treat. Who didn’t love getting a box of animal crackers as a kid and biting the heads off of lions and tigers and bears? Guaranteed fun…until the box was empty of course.
I love recreating childhood favorites and introducing them to my kids. Having kids with dairy allergies means that many of the sugary, kid-pleasing, nostalgia-invoking treats of my youth are off-limits, so whenever I nail a vegan/allergy-friendly copycat version I get really excited. These cookies are no exception. Cinnamon sugar cookies coated in brightly coloured eggless royal icing and covered in sprinkles – what’s not to love?
Not only are these cookies adorable and delicious, but they are a great way to have some fun in the kitchen with your own kids. Little hands are perfect for cutting out and dipping these miniature treats.
What really makes these cookies stand out (aside from all the sprinkles) is the cookie base. It’s an amazing cinnamon sugar cookie that works well for any type of decorated cookie. I use this cookie base all the time – the boost of cinnamon really gives it a lovely flavor and texture and is just so much more interesting than a plain sugar cookie (not that there’s anything wrong with a good old-fashioned sugar cookie!)
If cookie decorating is your jam, I highly recommend saving the this recipe and using it the next time you’re getting creative in the kitchen. Just double up the bake time for larger cookies.
These cookies are best when the dough has had time to chill and set, at least 2 hours, but preferably overnight, so plan ahead on this one. The dough itself takes five minutes to prep, and uses ingredients I guarantee you’ve already got in your pantry and fridge, so get that hand (or stand) mixer ready! We are heading into a long weekend here so I’m stocking my fridge with a double batch of dough so that we can bake our little hearts out.
I found this eggless royal icing mix by Virgin Ice at my local Bulk Barn, but if you can’t find it, I’ve included a great vegan glaze recipe below that works just as well.
Frosted Animal Crackers
Ingredients – cookies:
2 ¼ cups all purpose flour
1 tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp baking powder
¼ tsp salt
3/4 cup vegan butter, softened
¾ cup granulated sugar
¼ cup unsweetened soy milk
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
Ingredients – glaze icing:
1 ½ cup icing sugar
3-4 tbsp non-dairy milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
Wilton gel food color
Directions – cookies:
In a medium size bowl, whisk flour, cinnamon, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or in a large bowl with a hand mixer), cream butter and sugar together until fluffy and smooth – approx 2 minutes. Add vanilla extract and beat until combined. Scrape down the sides as needed to ensure all ingredients are mixed well.
Set mixer on low speed and add half the flour mixture and mix to combine. Then add soy milk, and mix for 1 minute, then add remaining flour mix. If dough is crumbly, add more soy milk, 1 tbsp at a time, until dough comes together.
Turn dough out onto counter. Divide in half and shape into 2 discs. Wrap each disc in plastic wrap and refrigerate for a minimum of 2 hours (overnight is even better).
Preheat oven to 350F.
Once dough is chilled, remove one disc from fridge and place between two floured sheets of parchment paper. Roll out until ½ inch thick. Cut out shapes and place on parchment lined baking sheets, about 1-2 inches apart. Gather up remaining dough, re-roll and cut out more cookies. Repeat until all dough is used. (The dough keeps in the fridge for 2-3 days and freezes well, so you can make half a batch – which still yields about 2 1/2 dozen cookies, and save the other batch for another day.)
Bake for 9 minutes or until bottoms are ever-so-lightly golden. Let cool completely.
Directions – icing:
If you are using a prepackaged vegan royal icing, mix contents of package with cool water until a shiny, thick-but-pourable glaze forms. (The package in my picture used ¾ cup water to achieve this consistency.)
If you don’t have a vegan royal icing mix, you can try this recipe from A Beautiful Mess, or use my glaze icing recipe:
Whisk together icing sugar, unsweetened non-dairy milk and vanilla extract until glaze forms and is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. It should be thick but slightly pourable.
Separate icing into smaller bowls, one for each color, and add 1-2 drops of Wilton Gel Food Coloring into each bowl and stir to achieve desired color.
One at a time, dip the top of each cookie into the icing, let the excess drip off, then place back on a baking sheet and top with a few sprinkles. You will want to sprinkle each cookie as you dip it so that the icing is still wet enough to make the sprinkles stick.
Repeat until all cookies are iced. Allow icing to harden by placing baking trays in the fridge or letting them sit on the counter at room temperature for a couple of hours.