This recipe makes a lot of these little beauties, about 48 in all (we are estimating - we forgot to count!). And once you get the hang of it, it goes pretty fast. The cutters take a little coordination, so this may not be a good option for your toddlers, but school age kids and above should be able work the mechanism without tears. Check out our NOTES section below for tips on cutting and handling.
You have the option of keeping the cookies plain, as shown, or dipping them in a simple or royal icing. This gives you the option of adding color and nonpareil style sprinkles. And sprinkles are always a good idea!
These cookies are best in the first couple of days if not iced; maybe 4 days if iced. We usually freeze half the cookies after we cut them out. Our preferred method: first freeze on a tray, then transfer frozen cookies to a zip bag. They will keep in the freezer for a couple of months and make it easy and fast to bake a super-cute treat for your family.
INGREDIENTS & TOOLS
- 1 cup (114g) unsalted butter , softened to room temperature
- 1 cup (200g) granulated sugar
- 1 egg, room temperature
- 1-1/2 teaspoons almond extract
- 1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon table salt (half that for kosher)
- 3 cups (375g) all-purpose flour
- Mini animal cookie cutters
- In a small bowl, whisk together the flour and salt and set aside. We like to use a flexible silicone bowl.
- In your stand mixer fitted with SideSwipe or your flat paddle, cream together butter and sugar. Begin on low speed, then increase speed to medium high. This should take a couple of minutes and is done when the butter is lighter in color and appears fluffy.
- Add egg and beat on medium until combined.
- Add the vanilla and almond extracts and mix until combined.
- On your mixer's lowest speed: add the flour, about 1/3 of the total (1 cup) at a time, adding the next cup when the flour is mostly incorporated. After the final cup, mix until just combined. The dough will be quite heavy and will stick to your bowl and beater.
- Remove the dough from the mixer. Roll onto parchment paper, dusted with a little flour, to about 1/4 inch (.6cm) thick. Chill in refrigerator for 30 minutes or more.
- Heat oven to 375F (190C). Arrange racks so you can bake in the center of the oven.
- Cut cookies into the desired shapes and place on a parchment lined baking sheet. They can be placed fairly close together as they spread very little. Reroll and re-refrigerate extra dough before cutting additional shapes.
- Bake cookies for about 7-8 minutes. For soft cookies, you will want to bake only until the bottom edge barely turn a golden brown. For us, that was 7 minutes. You may want to check your cookies a little early if you don't use an oven thermometer. See NOTES below for tips on arranging and baking.
- Cool on the baking sheet for 5-10 minutes to allow them to set up. Remove to a plate or container to enjoy.
NOTES AND TIPS
- For easiest removal of the dough, either spray the inside of the cutter with vegetable cooking spray or dip the cutter into a small bowl of flour before each use. This will allow easy release and will provide a detailed imprint.
- Use chilled dough. Don't try to cut out warm dough, which makes the cookies very difficult to handle.
- We got best results when we baked the cookies with all one type of animal per tray. You'll find that the giraffe and zebra bake faster than the lion and elephant. You may want to bake the larger cutters for another minute.
- Find these cutters on our website's SHOP page.