Homemade Whole Wheat Animal Cookies (Vegan)

I don't know about you, but I absolutely despise myself after giving my daughter a big handful of animal crackers. Acutally, I have never given my daughter a handful of animal crackers, but I'm sure that if I ever did, I would absoutely despise myself. What do they consist of? Flour, sugar, and shortening? And...a handful of other unknown ingredients of unknown origin that number in the teens and extend a quarter of the way up the box? On a scale of 1-10 they rank a 0 on nutritional value. Healthy snack? I think not!! That is why a little lightbulb went on inside my head when I spied these cool "Noah's Ark" tiny cookie cutters at the craft store. Homemade animal cookies? Whole wheat homemade animal cookies? Now these are a snack I can sort of get behind. I know what I'm putting in and it sure is't hydrogenated oils or some other mystery ingedient. They don't taste bad either, and I'm pretty sure if I swapped out the sugar for some pulverized chicken they would make excellent dog treats for my little pug Gizmo...

These are definitly worth a try if you have young children. They are adorable and your kids won't know the difference...that is if they ever knew what an animal cracker was to begin with...

Homemade Whole Wheat Animal Cookies (Vegan)

1 1/4 cups whole wheat flour
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cinnamon
pinch of salt
1/2 cup organic vegan butter (like Earth Balance) or shortening
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and cover a baking sheet in parchment paper. In a large bowl whisk together the flour, ginger, cinnamon, and salt. Set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment cream together the vegan butter, brown sugar, and vanilla on medium-high speed until light and fluffy. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and slowly add the flour mixture at low speed until a dough ball forms. Add a few drops of water if the dough is too dry or does not come together.

Gather the dough and form into a ball. Roll out onto a work surface dusted with whole wheat flour to about 1/8" thickness. Use floured cokie cutters to cut out shapes and place on a cookie sheet covered in parchment paper. Continue reforming and rolling out dough until it is gone. Bake for 5-10 minute or until the cookies are firm to the touch.

Vanilla Royal Icing

1 tbl meringue powder
2 tbl warm water
 1 1/3 cups powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract

Beat all ingredients in a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment at medium speed until peaks form. Use to ice cookies, preferrably with a pastry bag fitted with a very small tip.

Cookies adapted from The Ultimate Cookie Book, Icing adapted from Wilton

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