Homemade Circus Animal Cookies. You bring me back to my childhood, you. 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.
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?Print
Homemade Circus Animal Cookies
- Prep Time: 25 mins
- Cook Time: 10 mins
- Total Time: 35 mins
These Circus Animal Cookies are a delicious and allergen-friendly safe treat to bring anyone back to their childhood.
- 1 3/4 c. Cara’s All-Purpose Flour Blend
- 1/2 tsp xanthan gum
- 3/4 tsp. baking powder
- 1/4 tsp. sea salt
- 1/2 c. vegan butter, softened, or use shortening
- 2/3 c. granulated sugar
- 1 Tbsp. vegan cream cheese, softened
- 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
- 1/2 tsp. almond extract
- 1 c. nondairy white chocolate, melted
- 2 tsp. shortening (you might need this to completely smooth out the melted white chocolate)
- 1 drop red all-natural food coloring
- Sprinklez sprinkles
- Sift together the flour, xanthan gum, baking powder, and salt together until well combined.
- Cream together butter and sugar until fluffy and light. Add cream cheese and extracts until fluffy and combined. Gradually add flour mixture and stir with wooden spoon.
- Separate the dough in 3 balls and knead each ball until smooth. Chill for 1-2 hours.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- 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. Bake for 10 minutes, or until brown along the edges. Allow to cool 5 minutes off cookie sheet.
- Dip the cookies into the melted white chocolate that has been mixed with the red food coloring. Allow to drip the excess white chocolate off. Lightly coated with sprinkles and allow to set (you can freeze these as well). Store in an air-tight container in the fridge or freezer.
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…
Looking for more gluten free copycat snack ideas? Here are these:
This post makes me smile every time I look at it. Thank you for creating this recipe for me, Kookie!
You make ME smile, special little girl! Love you so much <3
The set includes fish, dogs, felines, birds, butterflies as well as reptiles – someone for each
Cara can u tell me were to get the vegan white chocolate? Or what brand you use? I CAN NOT find white chocolate!!
King David Kosher and Lieber’s both have a brand of white chocolate chips and (my personal favorite) Polar White Dream are white chocolate bars. Go on Amazon or http://www.premiumchocolatiers.com and you will find them there.
What is Earth Balance butter and what could you substitute it for? We don’t have it here in NZ, so was wondering what to use. These look soo cute!
Hi Rebecca! Earth Balance is a vegan butter brand so I suggest going with whatever brand you have in NZ. OR you can try solid coconut oil. Hope that helps!
Try Veganbaking.net ‘s vegan butter recipe. It works great for me here in Israel. And is healthier that any margarine
And thanx Cara. You are an inspiration!!!
Those were my ALL TIME favorite cookies prior to being GF (diagnosed) and vegan (by choice). I can’t wait to try these!!!
I made these once and loved, loved, loved them. So I wanted to make another batch, but I didn’t have time for the whole process. I made the dough and put it in the fridge. 48 hours later I took it out to roll it out for the cookies, and it had become a fine powder. I suppose the gluten-free quality had something to do with it, but it also could have been the gluten-free all purpose flour I used. I did make them again, this time with a different gf all-purpose flour and waiting an hour after putting the dough in the fridge, and they worked fine.
The issue becomes when gf dough is too cold they can do that. If that even happens again, simply allow it to warm up a little and you should find that once you start playing with the dough, it will be fine 🙂
I want to make these but see that the flour blend you used is not listed on the company’s website. I’d like to recreate it if possible. Your pop tarts are divine but I worry that that flour blend would be too crumbly for cookies?
Thanks for your thoughts!
Just click the link in this recipe and her recipe is there.
I have since then changed the flour I use (I make my own as opposed to buying it directly from the store already mixed). Hope that helps!
OH MY GOD. animal cookies! I loved these as a child!
Jennifer Bandy, MA
I share the dedication you showed to your niece with our children- my goal is to prepare an equivalent for the endless birthdays, holidays, etc. at school and elsewhere. The feelings you describe are feelings we have experienced, it is emotionally challenging to be the only one in the room not eating something (or everything). I admire your dedication and thank you for sharing this knowledge. Teachers, principals, parents, etc. need this info. so that there is an increased sensitivity to the emotional side of food consumption choices/needs.
Omg. Lol. I loved these as a child! They were a favorite that’s for sure! Just as when I was younger, now that I see them … I need a bright pink one now!
I wonder if its possible to make these refined sugar free. White sugar replaced by coconut or date or maple sugar .. Or honey or maple syrup!
Thank you so much for making these amazing cookies vegan! This was seriously one of my favorite childhood snacks and when I first became vegan I was having trouble giving those kind of things up.
But I have learned that going vegan is not a sacrifice, but a blessing! So many more doors have been open to me now, and I couldn’t be happier. Plus, many times the “substitutes” taste better than “the real thing”.
I can’t wait to make these. Although I’m not gluten-free, I have been seriously considering eating less of it.
By the way, Is there a substitute for xanthan gum? What is xanthan gum used for?
The Sweet Prima Donna (Brooke B.)
These look fantastic! I’m not vegan, but love to replace non-vegan processed goodies with vegan goodies because I find them tastier! I’ll definitely be giving these a try. Thanks for sharing.(:
Thanks for the recipe, can’t wait to try it! The picture looks like the animals are moving, but maybe it’s just me.
hahaha. They kinda *do* look like that! 🙂
These cookies are sooooo amazing! I feel like I can now survive being gluten free. I lover sugar/rollout cookies and these are a perfect replacement. I made big ones with train cookie cutters and they were so cute. Even unfrosted they are AMAZING!!!! Thank you so much!
🙂 🙂 :0 Grinning after today’s visit to F&B!
Oh wow, I don’t know how I stumbled onto your blog, but am I glad!!
I loved animal crackers when I was younger, I haven’t had them in years.
I will definitely make these this weekend, Yummy, I can taste them already.
I am most certainly happy you found your way over here as well! Thank you for stopping by 🙂 Hope you like the cookies. They don’t have the waxy flavor from your youth, but they are just as cute! xo, Cara
Another tearjerker. Damn you.
My work is done here folks. You know what party I am referencing?
how cute are these cute teeny cookies! i need some teeny cookie cutters too! Its super amazing that you are recreating these memories without the need for the dairy,eggs and gluten!
Darn i made pink coconut balls, they were cooked on the stove.. so i am not sure if they work for the bake off.. i think i saw raw works fine.. so does any dessert cooked any way or uncooked work?
Absolutely! Raw is vegan and gluten free so it works!
Everything tastes better when they are teeny, right? I got my cookie cutters at Michael’s–they are the Noah’s Ark cutters. I will say this, I am having the best time ever recreating all my fav kiddie snacks, that is for sure. xo
OMG this is what has been missing in my life – why have I never seen or tasted these adorable little cookies before now – clearly my childhood wasn’t as wonderful as I thought it too be, considering these cookies were missing from it!
Whaaaaaa? You never had Mother’s Circus Animal Cookies???? <–you are not missing out on much, except how cute they look. Despite the waxy taste, I would still eat them… See? Wax? Not missing out…
you are awesome. these are awesome. Cambria is lucky to have an awesome auntie.
I am so happy you are taking a positive approach to your allergies – and so happy you reached out to me back then! 🙂 your attitude and creativity is an inspiration every day.
Girl, I am so happy you reached BACK out to me 🙂 hehe. You have a very special place in my heart because of that, for reals. xo
Thank you for your sweet words. You are MY inspiration so it’s funny to hear you say that 🙂
Crap, I wasn’t ready for that. Now I have to get up and chase you around the circle… I suck at running!
Well, you live by the water. You’re always prodding people to get on with it and not be soggy and I’m glad you suck at running. I suck at walking. 🙂 I’d be jabbed to smithereens. I wouldn’t mind if they were pink and white and covered in sprinkles though.
Aren’t we both the perfect couple. One sucks at walking, one sucks at running. Together, they are amazing 🙂 Oh, and did I tell you how the waves were crashing and I could hear them from the kitchen window??? haha
These are perfect! I love those dang cookies! I bet your inner child is doing a happy dance right now! (And awesomesauce on the guest post!)
My inner child was having a hay day! (what does that mean anyway?) And those dang cookies love YOU. They are saying: Make us! Make us!
If I liked to bake… yummmmm. 🙂 These are adorable.
Carolyn, this means you have to befriend those who do like to bake and convince them to cook tasty treats for you 🙂
You are rockin’ that front page! I left a comment there but wanted to tell you again – these are PERFECT looking and I can only imagine how yummy they taste 🙂 Genius, just genius!
I was super thrilled with how they turned out! I think I even squealed a few times in Greg’s ears 🙂 hehe. I cannot help it though, my childhood was brought into the kitchen… THANK YOU, Nora! xo
Thank you, Nobody. That always makes me feel weird to refer to you as nobody because you ARE somebody 🙂 xo
These look awesome and so adorable!!
Thank you my little fellow baker 🙂
I am merely a copy-cat.
Aren’t we all in some way or fashion? There is no such thing as an original idea 😉
These are so adorable! I love animal crackers. Now I will have to search for tiny cookie cutters!
If you have a Michaels nearby, that is where I found mine. I believe it is the Noah’s Ark animal cutters 🙂