Chocolate Animal Crackers

Chocolate Animal Crackers

Stack of cookies and milk on wooden table

So it’s Leap Day. Huh.

Ever wonder what it would be like to be born on February 29? Yeah, me either. Except I totally have. Here’s what I’ve come up with so far: It would either be totally fabulous, or intensely sad. That’s as far as I’ve gotten.

I’m at loose ends over here. You might want to take me with a grain of salt.

Animal crackers in a jar

I delivered the manuscript for my second cookbook two weeks ago today. I was so used to cramming in daily blog recipes, all the while writing a book. A big project has the power to focus, you know?

Big project done for now, and I’m still thinking too big these days. But nothing’s panning out. And I’m restless! Perhaps I should chill out. That’s good advice right there.

So I’ve been trying to cope. By making a lot of cookies. Chocolate Animal Crackers, then, this time around. The yin to the  Vanilla Animal Crackers yang.

Animal crackers on beige surface

You roll them out, chill ’em, and then cut ’em out.

Animal crackers on metal surface

They’re snappy! And seriously cocoa-y. Deep. These little guys are deep. I think they might be able to solve all of my problems. I think I might consider doing some other stuff with this dough. I’m kinda sweet on it.

More cookies!

I have a thing for ducks. They look all chilled out on the surface. Like they don’t even care. Swim, float, it’s all the same to them.

Except it isn’t. They’re paddling like lunatics just beneath the water’s surface. I think that’s what we expect of our heroes. Tireless effort that looks effortless. But every president gets tons of grey hair in office. Effortless effort. It can’t be done.

Close up of stack of animal crackers

But these cookies? They can be done. We can bake them, and we can eat them. I know. I’ve done both. ;)

Chocolate Animal Crackers
Recipe Type: Cookies
Author: Nicole @ Gluten-Free on a Shoestring.com
Prep time: 10 mins
Cook time: 8 mins
Total time: 18 mins
Serves: 20
Gluten-free chocolate animal crackers
  • 1 cup plus 1 tablespoon (149g) all-purpose gluten-free flour (I use Better Batter)
  • 1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum (omit if using Better Batter)
  • 5 tablespoons (25g) natural unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 tablespoons (12g) cultured buttermilk blend (I use Saco brand)
  • Dash (1/8 teaspoon) kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup (50g) granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup (55g) packed light brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons (42g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon (14g) canola oil
  • 1 extra-large egg, beaten
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste (can substitute pure vanilla extract)
  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper and set it aside.
  2. In a large bowl, place flour, xanthan gum, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, buttermilk blend, salt, granulated sugar and light brown sugar, and whisk to combine well. Add butter, oil, egg and vanilla, and mix to combine until the dough begins to come together. If necessary, knead the dough to incorporate all of the dry ingredients.
  3. Place the dough between two sheets of unbleached parchment paper, and roll out until about 1/4 inch thick. Place the dough, still covered in parchment on both sides, in the freezer until firm, about 15 minutes. When the dough is firm, cut out shapes with cookie cutters. Place cut outs less than an inch apart on prepared baking sheet (they won’t spread much during baking), and place the baking sheet in the freezer once again until very firm once again, about another 5 minutes.
  4. Place the baking sheet in the center of the preheated oven and bake for about 8 minutes or until just set, rotating once during baking. Unlike the vanilla cookies, you will not be able to see these cookies brown to know that they are ready. Better to underbake than to risk burning the cookies.
  5. Remove from the oven and allow to cool on the baking sheet until firm, about 5 minutes.
  6. Store leftover cookies in an airtight container at room temperature.



Like this recipe?

Comments are closed.

  • […] Gluten-free chocolate animal crackers. (via The Kitchn) […]

  • Sara
    March 4, 2012 at 7:46 PM

    These look great but I don’t need to do gluten free. Can I just substitute flour for the gluten free flour and skip the xantham gum or would something need to be substituted for the xantham gum?

    • March 5, 2012 at 8:37 AM

      Hi, Sara,
      I’ve never made these with conventional flour. You should be able to sub in conventional flour one-for-one (you don’t need to replace the xanthan gum – just omit it), but you’ll have to experiment to find out!
      xoxo Nicole

  • Chris
    March 4, 2012 at 4:26 PM

    RATS! I have those silly “Ritz” crackers totally figured out and now I NEED to make these, too! And I’ve been having fun with those ‘Nilla wafers! Of course, then I had to make some vanilla pudding with bananas….. (BTW, how long do you keep comments open after a new posting? Wanted to add a comment about those “Ritz” crackers but could not….. :( My son wasn’t feeling well and “just wanted a salty cracker” and, boy, did he create a monster with that request!) Anyway, I need to locate a few adorable cookie cutters now! Like I need one more ‘tool’ for my kitchen….. <<>> :-)

    • March 4, 2012 at 7:47 PM

      Hi, Chris,
      I only keep comments on posts open during the week in which they were posted. Come Monday, when the first post of the week goes up, I close the comments on the previous week’s comments. So glad you’re enjoying all of the clone recipes. They’re some of my favorite to write – and to make!
      xoxo Nicole

  • March 1, 2012 at 11:32 PM

    I love the little duckies & bunnies ! This post has definitely inspired me to create my own little animal crackers. These cutesy little animals are undoubtedly a twist to the circus animal look. Thank you !


  • chris
    March 1, 2012 at 10:53 AM

    Hi Nicole. Just wanted to tell you that I love this post…”They look all chilled out on the surface. Like they don’t even care. Swim, float, it’s all the same to them. Except it isn’t. They’re paddling like lunatics just beneath the water’s surface.” So true, but I never thought of it that way!

    Thanks for the smile…happy March!

    • March 1, 2012 at 7:26 PM

      Hi, Chris,
      So nice to hear from you. Glad you enjoyed my duck perspective. :)
      xoxo Nicole

  • February 29, 2012 at 12:20 PM

    Sounds like you’ feeling little leap-y on the Leap Day…. :)

    Love these. Am going to bake some this weekend. Tea and Animals, yeah!

    Waht no cocoa-y floating bunny heads? :)


    • February 29, 2012 at 1:24 PM

      That floating bunny head freaks me out. Why a dismembered head, I ask. Why??
      xoxo Nicole

  • February 29, 2012 at 12:19 PM

    I hear from a reliable source that chicken soup followed by chocolate cures that cold. I think these cookies count as the chocolate. My day is complete! Now I can make the vanilla and chocolate animal cookies, or should I say ducks because that’s the cookie cutter I have. I think I need that scary bunny, too. I’d eat the ears first. : )

    • February 29, 2012 at 1:23 PM

      I just had a little heart to heart. With myself. ‘Cause I realized that those can’t be ducks. They have to be chicks. They’re from a set of mini Easter cookie cutters. I’m all for chicks. I mean, I am one myself. But I really do love ducks. *sigh* Yeah, I definitely recommend deafening the floating bunny head. So he can’t hear your screams.
      xoxo Nicole

  • Pamela G
    February 29, 2012 at 11:37 AM

    LOVE aminal (yes, aminal) crackers….great snacking! Cup o’tea & a handful for me….thanking YOUUU!
    ps.. I’m wigged out on cold medicine, so it makes two of us at wits end!

    • February 29, 2012 at 11:58 AM

      Hey, Pam!
      We’re quite a pair, then, you and me. I hope your cold goes away soon. I have one, too, but it’s a wimp of a cold compared to my usual winter doozies. :)
      xoxo Nicole

      • Pamela G
        March 1, 2012 at 9:54 AM

        I’ve got the doozy this year…but I’ll gladly take it if it means you creating more goodies like these. Feel better soon! XOXO

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