Animal Crackers

[Photograph: Anna Markow]

These unique snacky treats require a couple ingredients you might consider hard to find, but graham flour and whole wheat flour are interchangeable so don't worry if you can't find the former. Bob's Red Mill is a fairly common brand these days and they make a graham flour, but any whole wheat pastry flour will work. Mace is a little more difficult to locate but middle eastern stores or any store with a good selection of spices should have it.

At the restaurant we served these frosted with royal icing tinted pink with powdered strawberries, but I prefer them plain. Keeping them plain also extends the shelf life from a day to up to a month.

Note: If you don't have a food processor, this dough can be made entirely by hand, and you can grind the oatmeal into a coarse flour with a spice grinder. If you don't have that either, you can use a pastry cutter to roughly break up the oats but you won't be able to cut the crackers into smaller shapes. By hand, combine the oat flour/whole oats, sugar, graham flour, cinnamon, mace, baking soda and salt in a large bowl, mixing thoroughly. Cut in the butter with a pastry cutter or just rub it into the dry with your hands, then add the hot water and vanilla. Incorporate fully by hand with a flexible bowl scraper, then incorporate the flour the same way.

About the Author: Anna Markow is a pastry chef obsessed with doing things that no one else does and giving unusual ingredients their time to shine. You can follow her sometimes-pastry-related thoughts on Twitter @VerySmallAnna and see her adventures in creativity on her website, VerySmallAnna.

Every recipe we publish is tested, tasted, and Serious Eats-approved by our staff. Never miss a recipe again by following @SeriousRecipes on Twitter!

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Animal Crackers

About This Recipe

Yield:makes hundreds of tiny ones or a few dozen big ones
Active time:10 minutes to mix, 10 minutes for each batch to bake
Total time:20 minutes to over an hour depending on how many sheets you bake
Special equipment:Food processor, spice grinder or pastry cutter, flexible bowl scraper, rolling pin, cookie cutters
This recipe appears in: Very Small Anna: Animal Crackers
Rated:

Ingredients

  • 7 ounces (about 2 cups) whole rolled oats
  • 14 ounces (2 cups) granulated sugar
  • 1 ounce (1/4 cup) graham or whole wheat flour
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground mace
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 4 ounces (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut in 1/4 inch cubes and thoroughly chilled
  • 1/2 cup hot water
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 8 3/4 ounces (about 1 3/4 cup) all-purpose flour

Procedures

  1. 1

    In the bowl of a food processor, combine oats, sugar, graham/whole wheat flour, cinnamon, mace, salt, and baking soda. Process until oats are powdered and mixture is homogenous, about 30 seconds.

  2. 2

    Distribute butter cubes evenly over surface and pulse until mixture is mealy with no large chunks of butter remaining, about 10 quick pulses. Add hot water and vanilla. Pulse until fully incorporated, about 10 quick pulses.

  3. 3

    Turn out dough into a medium mixing bowl. Add flour and knead in with a flexible dough scraper or by hand until fully incorporated. Wrape dough tightly in plastic, form into a disk, and transfer to refrigerator for 30 minutes.

  4. 4

    Remove dough from refrigerator and unwrap. Place on a lightly floured work surface. Using rolling pin, roll dough out until roughly 1/8-inch thick, flouring as necessary. Use cutters or a knife to cut into desired shape. Gather scraps, re-roll, and cut more shapes. At this point you can freeze your cut crackers for later, layering with parchment paper in between and wrapping tightly with plastic. Crackers baked from frozen will puff up less and keep their shape better which is good for smaller, more detailed shapes.

  5. 5

    When ready to bake, adjust oven racks to upper and lower middle positions and preheat oven to 350°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment or silicone mats, space crackers an inch apart. Bake for 8 minutes, then rotate sheet(s) and bake for additional 2 minutes. Cookies should be firm to the touch and lightly golden brown. Allow to cool and harden fully before removing from baking sheets. Store in airtight containers for up to 1 month.

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