These colorful gluten-free frosted animal cookies will take you right back to childhood!
Pregnancy makes you crave weird things. Sure, there’s the cliche pickles and ice cream thing (yes, I’ve been craving pickles but thankfully NOT as a side for ice cream) but there are other things that you crave that seriously baffle you. There are endless moments where I think: HOW ON EARTH did I decide that I need X food right now or else when I haven’t had that food in years. As in 15-20 years.
My most recent craving: Frosted animal crackers/cookies.
Random, right? Especially considering that growing up I was much more of the UNfrosted Barnum’s Animal Crackers type of gal, not the frosted circus animal cookies kind of gal.
In fact, now that I think about it, a lot of my cravings recently have been for what I would consider “kid foods” – applesauce, mac and cheese, spaghetti-os, animal crackers, goldfish, etc. Totally random, but maybe that’s just nature’s way of preparing me for momhood?
Whatever the reason, I’m rolling with it. Starting (but not ending) with gluten-free frosted animal cookies. Because heaven forbid my cravings would be easy to satisfy.
I must admit that these gluten-free frosted animal cookies aren’t an exact match for the flavor of the animal cookies you might remember growing up, but I will say that they (a) completely satisfied my craving (b) are darn good (c) are the cutest things ever (I used these cookie cutters!)
The cookies are made from a relatively simple gluten-free shortbread cookie base, and the frosting is also a super simple powder-sugar based frosting but there is one little secret ingredient that makes a BIG difference: almond extract. DON’T LEAVE IT OUT!
I know – not exactly an earth shattering secret ingredient – but I pinky promise that it takes these cookies from your average run-of-the-mill frosted shortbread cookies (a la Christmas), and makes them pure perfection as a frosted animal cookie stand-in. It lends an unexpected but very welcomed pizazz to the cookie.
PRO TIP for making these cookies: your refrigerator is the most essential tool you have in your whole kitchen.
Since there’s a relatively high butter content to these cookies and, as you may know, gluten-free flour isn’t exactly as kind as gluten-full flour when it comes to stickiness factor, once the dough sits out at room temperature for just a few minutes it can turn into a wet, sticky, impossible-to-work-with mess. BUT, thanks to your handy-dandy fridge and a few tips from me (that I may have been forced to learn the very hard way) these cookies are just as easy to make as gluten-full cut-outs.
- Make sure you chill the dough well. I’m talking not a minute less than 2 hours.
- Roll out the dough on a silicone baking mat, covering the dough with a layer of plastic wrap before taking your rolling pin to it. This will save you more frustration that I will ever be able to express.
- Make sure your work area is a cool area. Do not roll out or cut the cookies right beside the oven, where the temperature of your countertop is likely a bit warmer.
- Once the dough is rolled out, place the silicone baking mat with the rolled out dough on it back in the fridge for 10 minutes before using your cookie cutters. Annoying? Yes. Crucial to being able to cut out the cookies in discernible shapes? Absolutely.
- Work quickly once you start cutting out the cookies! The quicker the better.
- Refrigerate the dough again between each roll of the dough.
Follow these tips to a T, and you will have animal cookie perfection.
The frosting is also super, super simple to make: Powdered sugar, milk, almond extract, food coloring. That’s it!
Pink and white was a must for me to follow animal cookie tradition, but I also had to make some blue cookies as well in honor of our bundle-of-joy-to-be. Speaking of which, how adorable would these be to serve or give away as favors at a baby shower?
Another craving satisfied, but now the question is: WHAT’S NEXT?!
((Did somebody say oatmeal cream pies?!? ha))
- ½ cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
- ⅓ cup sugar
- 1 egg white
- ½ teaspoon gluten-free pure vanilla extract
- ½ teaspoon pure almond extract
- 1 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
- ⅛ teaspoon salt
- 1 cup powdered sugar
- 3 Tablespoons milk
- ½ teaspoon pure almond extract
- Red and blue food coloring
- Sprinkles, if desired
- In a large mixing bowl, cream together butter and sugar. Beat in egg white, vanilla extract, and almond extract. Add in the flour and salt, mixing thoroughly.
- Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator to chill for at least 2 hours.
- Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.
- Place your chilled cookie dough on a silicone baking mat or a large sheet of parchment paper, cover with a sheet of plastic wrap, and roll the dough to about ¼” thickness using a rolling pin. Place the rolled out dough back in the refrigerator for 15 minutes to chill.
- Once the dough is rolled out and chilled, cut into desired shapes and place the cut outs on a baking sheet, working quickly.
- Repeat steps 4 & 5, until all the dough is cut out.
- Bake cookies for 8-10 minutes, or until just barely starting to brown on the bottom. Remove from oven and allow to cool completely.
- Once the cookies are cool, mix all of the icing ingredients together, except for the food coloring. Separate into 3 small, deep bowls. Add two drops of blue food coloring to one bowl, and two drops of food coloring to another bowl, stirring both until color is fully incorporated.
- Dip each cookie into the desired frosting (pink, blue,or white) and then add sprinkles on top. Allow the cookies to set completely before eating.