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Circus Animal Crackers

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Adorable circus animal crackers are a precious taste of childhood! Prepping for summer excursions to the zoo, or for cross-country trips in the yellow banana station wagon, my mother would often take us kids shopping for special snacks. I’d always reach for those sweet little boxes of Barnum’s circus animal crackers with the thin white-string handle. Today I’m excited to share my own delicious recipe for these darling childhood favorites. Get ready to fill up your cookie jar with a sprinkling of nostalgia and recapture the magic of childhood!

Childhood Circus Animal Cookies made from scratch.

Ingredients for Circus Animal Crackers

These are all the ingredients you’ll need to make sweet little circus animal crackers: butter, granulated sugar, one large egg, vanilla extract, all-purpose flour, yellow cornmeal, baking powder, ground mace, and ground nutmeg.

Homemade Circus Animal Crackers

Homemade Barnum’s Animal Crackers

This homemade Barnum’s animal cracker recipe is slightly sweeter and more flavorful than than the original, but we’re using a few select ingredients to recreate some of that well-known Barnum animal cracker taste.

Homemade Barnum Animal Crackers

Childhood Circus Animal Crackers

Using both nutmeg and mace creates a wonderful balance. Nutmeg is sweeter and more delicate, while mace is slightly more intense and pungent. The best way to describe mace: it’s the primary flavor you taste in donuts. When biting into Barnum’s animal crackers there’s a slight taste of corn. So we’re using cornmeal to bring out that flavor. Cornmeal also provides a very gentle yellow coloring that adds a bit of magic to their whimsical look.

Animal Cracker Cookies made from scratch.

Recipe for Homemade Barnum’s Animal Crackers

Here’s how to make homemade Barnum’s animal crackers: Add the softened butter and granulated sugar to the bowl of a stand mixer. Cream them together until the mixture is light and fluffy. Add the egg and vanilla to the bowl and mix again. Now it’s time to sift the dry ingredients!

Animal crackers recipe made with adorable animal cookie cutters.

Homemade Circus Animal Cracker Cookies

In a separate bowl, sift the flour, cornmeal and baking powder using a standard flour sifter. If a few unruly granules of cornmeal are left in the sifter because they don’t sift through, just toss those hardened pieces out. If you have a sifter with an even finer mesh, use that for sifting the nutmeg and mace. To reduce these spices to finer particles, use the back of a spoon or your clean fingertips to press them through the mesh of the sifter.

Homemade Barnum's Animal Crackers

How to Make Circus Animal Crackers

Add the sifted ingredients to the bowl of the stand mixer. Mix everything together until all ingredients are well incorporated, and the dough starts pulling away from the sides of the bowl.

Animal Crackers served in a clear carousel cookie jar.

Essential Tips for Perfect Cut-Out Animal Crackers

These are essential tips for making perfectly formed animal crackers that are super easy to cut out and will keep their shape while baking. Divide the cookie dough into 4 equal pieces. On a pastry board or cutting board, roll out each piece to form a 1/4-inch rectangle. Wrap each piece separately in waxed paper or plastic wrap, or you can simply use small Ziplock bags. Place the cookie dough in the freezer for 30 minutes. DO NOT SKIP THIS IMPORTANT STEP!

Homemade Barnum and Bailey animal crackers.

How to Make Animal Crackers That Keep Their Shape

After the dough has been in the freezer for 30 minutes, pull out the first piece of dough. For now, leave the other three pieces in the freezer. Because your dough is already rolled out to the correct thickness, you can start cutting out shapes right away. Dip the cookie cutter into a small bowl of flour. Shake off the excess flour. (When the dough is first removed from the freezer you may not even need to dip the cutters into flour!) Press the cookie cutter down firmly into the dough. Lift the cookie cutter straight up with the dough still attached. Move the cookie cutter over to a baking tray lined with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat. Hovering over the cookie sheet, press down on the knob of the cookie cutter (the plunger) to quickly release the animal cracker onto the cookie sheet.

Animal Crackers served on a platter.

Continue cutting out as many animal shapes as you can. Gather up the remaining scraps of dough and press them into a ball. Roll out the dough to a thickness of 1/4 inches. Wrap it and return it to the freezer. Take out the other three pieces from the freezer. Put two of the pieces into the refrigerator so they aren’t as hard as a rock, then work with the third piece cutting out shapes. Continue this process until all of the animal crackers have been formed. If you ever get to a point where the cookies are not easily releasing from the cookie cutters, simply return the dough to the freezer until it’s nice and cold again.

Circus Animal Cookies

How to Bake Circus Animal Crackers

Adjust the oven rack to the center position. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Stick the cookie sheet with all of the preformed animal crackers into the freezer for 15-20 minutes. DON’T SKIP THIS STEP! Remove the cookie sheet from the freezer and immediately place it the oven. Bake the animal crackers for 11-14 minutes. Keep a close eye on the cookies starting at the 10-minute mark. The cookies are done when the edges become just slightly golden. Childhood circus animal cookies are perfect for parties, summer-time gatherings, or any time you’re feeling a bit nostalgic!

Nostalgic animal cracker cookies.

Recommended Kitchen Tools for Making Circus Animal Crackers

I absolutely love my adorable animal cookie cutters! Not only do they cleanly release the cookie dough, but with this recipe their beautiful patterns stay put on the top of the animal crackers. After use, they clean up quickly and easily, and are top-rack dishwasher safe. If you’re planning a circus birthday party, I’ve left an affiliate link below for the nostalgic wooden play set you see in this post.

Gold Line: Sprinkles of Inspiration | confettiandbliss.com

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Animal Crackers served on a platter.

Childhood Circus Animal Crackers


  • Author: Denay | Confetti and Bliss
  • Prep Time: 60 minutes
  • Cook Time: 15 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour 15 minutes
  • Yield: 40-45 Cookies 1x

Description

Adorable circus animal crackers are a precious taste of childhood! This delicious animal cookie recipe is very easy to make. Included are instructions for making cookies that easily release from their cookie cutters AND keep their shape while baking. In no time flat, you’ll be enjoying these scrumptious little cookies that bring a whole lot of smiles!


Scale

Ingredients

  • 1 + 1/2 sticks of butter (12 tablespoons), softened
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg, room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 + 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup yellow cornmeal
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground mace
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Instructions

  1. Add the butter and granulated sugar to the bowl of a stand mixer. Cream them together until the mixture is light and fluffy. Add the egg and vanilla to the bowl and mix again.
  2. In a separate bowl, sift the flour, cornmeal, baking powder, mace and nutmeg. Add the sifted ingredients to the bowl of the stand mixer. Mix everything together until all ingredients are well incorporated, and the dough starts pulling away from the sides of the bowl.
  3. Divide the cookie dough into 4 equal pieces. On a pastry board roll out each piece to form a 1/4-inch rectangle. Wrap each piece separately in waxed paper or plastic wrap. Place the cookie dough in the freezer for 30 minutes. DON’T SKIP THIS STEP!
  4. After 30 minutes, pull out the first piece of dough. Leave the other three pieces in the freezer. Your dough is at the correct thickness, so you can start cutting out shapes. Dip the cookie cutter into a small bowl of flour. Shake off all excess flour. Press the cookie cutter down firmly into the dough. Lift the cookie cutter straight up with the dough still attached. Move the cookie cutter over to a baking tray lined with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat. Hovering over the cookie sheet, press down on the knob of the cookie cutter to quickly release the animal cracker onto the cookie sheet. Continue cutting out shapes. Gather up the remaining scraps of dough and press them into a ball. Roll out the dough to a thickness of 1/4 inches. Wrap it and return it to the freezer.
  5. Take out the other three pieces from the freezer. Put two of the pieces into the refrigerator, then work with the third piece cutting out shapes. Continue until all of the animal crackers have been formed.
  6. Stick the cookie sheet with all of the preformed animal crackers into the freezer for 15 minutes. DON’T SKIP THIS STEP! Adjust your oven rack to the middle position. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  7. Bake the circus animal crackers for 11-14 minutes. The cookies are done when the sides and tops are barely starting to become lightly golden in color. Allow the cookies to remain on the cookie sheet for 10-12 minutes or until they’re room temperature. Transfer the cookies to a cooling rack to continue the cooling process.
  8. Enjoy childhood circus animal cookies with a cold glass of milk, warm tea, or hot chocolate.

  • Category: Snack, Dessert, Party
  • Method: Oven
  • Cuisine: American

Keywords: animal crackers, animal cracker recipe, homemade animal crackers

Gold Line: Sprinkles of Inspiration | confettiandbliss.com

CIRCUS ANIMAL COOKIES RECIPE > PIN IT TO PINTEREST

Save this precious circus animal cookies recipe for later, and share it with your friends. Pin it to Pinterest!

Circus Animal Crackers


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Gold Line: Sprinkles of Inspiration | confettiandbliss.com

CHILDHOOD CIRCUS ANIMAL CRACKERS > YOUR THOUGHTS

Do you have childhood memories of vintage boxes of Barnum’s Animal Crackers? What do you think about this yummy recipe for homemade animal crackers? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!

38 thoughts on “Circus Animal Crackers”

  1. This is too cute! My nephews were obsessed with Animal Crackers growing up. This would’ve been a great theme for one of their birthdays.

  2. Wow! This looks amazing and m toddler is crazy about crackers. This would be an awesome idea to surprise her. B the way I love the pictures and the presentation u made.

  3. My 4 year old niece always wants to help when I am baking. This will surely be fun to make! So cute and creative!

  4. This absolutely got the childhood memories flooding in for me, and the fact that they are home made and also cute…is a bonus. Thanks for sharing!!! :)

  5. What child doesn’t love animal crackers? They have been around for years. I had no idea you could buy the stencil to make your own. I wish I had known when my son was younger. These would have been fun to make. Love them!

  6. This is such a cute snacks! kids will surely love these! I love making cookies for them so I’ll definitely try this out

  7. Omg! these are so cute… I don’t have kids yet but I still want to try this recipe. i’m sure they are tasty too.

  8. This is such a wonderful recipe, thanks for sharing. I am sure kids love it! And they are so much healthier than some of the other things kids want. :)

    • They certainly are. I love that this can be made all organic too so you don’t have to worry about added preservatives.

  9. These animal crackers are so stinkin cute?! Absolutely going to have to make these classic crackers!

  10. Some circus kids run away to a more normal life. Others join their parents under the Big Top. And some, like Christian Bale, seek out an even bigger spotlight and become A-list performers.

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