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.



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