Homemade Circus Animal Cookies. You bring me back to my childhood, you.

Homemade Gluten-free Vegan Circus Animals - Fork & Beans

One memory I hold dear to my heart occurred 3 years ago when I was at a birthday party. My 6-year-old niece sat at the table, looking at all of the kids bite into their pieces of pizza while she sat there with an empty plate. My niece, Cambria, has had severe life-threatening food allergies since birth and is unable to eat dairy, eggs, and tree nuts. It broke my heart to see her without food and I couldn’t stand the thought of her not eating any lunch like the rest of the kids so I made a run to get her fast food. The look of surprise and sheer delight on her face when I put a sandwich on her plate was priceless. It was relief for her to not be the only the one without lunch.

Homemade Gluten-free Vegan Circus Animals - Fork & Beans

Rewind to 5 months ago when I was diagnosed with a dairy allergy and gluten intolerance, and I found myself several times in the same predicament as my niece. Sitting at dinner, unable to eat most of it — it wasn’t a good feeling, I’ll tell you that. In fact, at times, it felt alientating when I had to explain to someone that I was unable to eat the food served at a party.  But something clicked for me the last time when it occurred: I promised myself that I would not only handle it with same grace that Cambria does, but that I would change my perspective and make it my mission to figure out how to make the same types of foods that I have once loved, sans gluten and animal products.  Since then, I have spent countless hours in the kitchen, attempting to recreate my favorite childhood classics that not only I can enjoy, but all the little kiddos like Cambria can as well. And what else screams childhood than Mother’s Circus Animal Cookies?

Homemade Circus Animal Cookies

  • 1 3/4 c. All-Purpose Gluten-Free flour (I like Authentic Foods Rice Flour Blend)
  • 1/2 tsp xanthan gum
  • 3/4 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 stick (1/2 c.) Earth Balance butter (softened)
  • 2/3 c. sugar
  • 1 Tb vegan cream cheese (softened) — as egg replacer
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp almond extract
  • Royal Icing (as follows)
  • Rainbow Sprinkle balls


  1. Sift together the flour, xanthan gum, baking powder, and salt together until well combined.
  2. Cream together butter and sugar until fluffy and light. Add cream cheese and extracts until fluffy and combined.
  3. Gradually add flour mixture and stir with wooden spoon.
  4. Separate the dough in 3 balls and knead each ball until smooth. Chill for 1-2 hours.
  5. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  6. Roll the dough out in between 2 pieces of wax paper until 1/4″ thick. Cut out with animal cookie cutters and place on greased cookie sheet.
  7. Bake for 10 minutes, or until brown along the edges. Allow to cool 5 minutes off cookie sheet.


  • 2 Tbs Ener-G egg relacer plus 4 Tbs warm water, mixed until frothy
  • 3 c. powdered sugar
  • 1 1/2 Tb vegan cream cheese
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 1-2 tsp. pure dark cherry or cranberry juice for pink coloring (or all-natural food coloring of choice)
  1. Using an electric mixer, combine everything together until thick. Add more sugar if needs to be thicker.
  2. Dip the cookies into the bowl of icing and allow to set on wax paper. Top off with sprinkles.
  3. Store in an air-tight container in the fridge or freezer.

Homemade Gluten-free Vegan Circus Animals - Fork & Beans

The best feeling in the world is standing in the kitchen, knowing that you just baked a cookie comparable to what you remembered from your childhood. I guarantee you that not only will you have fun making these cookies, but those who get to eat them will have even more fun! Currently, I am boxing these up to give to my niece…

Homemade Gluten-free Vegan Circus Animals - Fork & Beans