A sweet and simple recipe for Frosted Animal Cookies! Today’s recipe starts with an easy (no-chilling-required) vanilla cookie base and is decorated with royal icing (and sprinkles!). Recipe includes a how-to video!
Frosted Animal Cookies
Remember how I told you a few weeks ago that my grandmother let me raid her recipe collection? I’ve already shared plenty of her recipes here, (Black Bottom Cupcakes, Gobs, and my current favorite: Cream Puffs) and here is another winner from her collection: Frosted Animal Cookies
I may be just slightly obsessed with these fun, colorful, and super cute frosted animal cookies. Lions, elephants, zebras, and giraffes all covered with pretty pink and white frosting… what’s not to love? These would be adorable for a circus or safari themed baby shower or birthday party, but so far I’ve just been enjoying eating them for no occasion whatsoever.
Flavoring for Animal Cookies
I originally bought these animal cookie cutters with the goal in mind of making animal crackers (you know the kind that comes in that red circus animal box), not cookies. If you’ve tasted those before you know that they have a subtle but distinct flavor that sets them apart from any other animal cracker. Because of this, I’d bought a citrus-y/almond-y flavor emulsion known as “Princess emulsion” or “Princess flavoring” at the advice of the owner of my local cake shop (I’ve mentioned this emulsion before and used it in the frosting for my Funfetti cake).
Well an animal cracker recipe is still forthcoming, and when the recipe from my grandmother called for almond extract I decided to try a splash of the Princess emulsion flavoring instead, and I’m so glad I did. While I don’t think it’s necessary for anyone to rush out and spend $6 on a bottle just for this cookie recipe, if you think you might be making these animal cookies over and and over again (you will be) or want to experiment with the flavoring in other recipes, it’s a worthy purchase! I’ve linked to the flavoring in the recipe, but my local Walmart actually carries it, too.
Animal Cookie Frosting
The original animal cookie recipe called for a royal icing, but one made with unpasteurized and uncooked egg whites.
Since I’m currently pregnant (as I typed this, baby kicked me hard in the ribs, ouch), that wasn’t an option I could consider. Instead I opted to use a meringue powder-based royal icing. This is honestly an easier route than using egg whites, but if you’re not feeling royal icing or don’t feel like running out to buy meringue powder you can always use the easy frosting that I use in my sugar cookie recipe instead.
Tips for Making Frosted Animal Cookies
- This recipe makes over 100 (small) cookies (assuming you’re using the same cookie cutters I did, listed in the recipe!). Feel free to cut the recipe in half if you don’t feel like rolling, dipping, and decorating 100 cookies. Alternatively you can divide the dough in half, bake one half, and then tightly wrap the other and store it in the refrigerator for up to a week.
- If the frosting in your bowl becomes too thick to dip or begins to crust over, just make sure to give it a stir before dipping your cookies. Royal icing hardens quickly! If you have several bowls of frosting (of different colors, maybe?) keep the bowls you aren’t actively using tightly wrapped with plastic wrap and then stir before dipping.
- Let me reiterate: Royal icing hardens quickly! If you want to decorate your cookies with sprinkles, add them immediately after dipping each cookie. Otherwise the frosting will begin to harden and the sprinkles will just slide right off. Sad 🙁
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Let’s bake together! Be sure to check out my video at the bottom of the recipe where I’ll show you exactly how I make these adorable Animal Cookies in my own kitchen! If you enjoy watching, make sure to subscribe to my YouTube channel where I’ve already uploaded over 150 recipe videos that you can watch for free!
Frosted Animal Cookies
- 12 Tablespoons unsalted butter softened, but still slightly cool. Should not be melting or your cookie dough will be too soft and you may end up needing to chill it.
- 1 ½ cups granulated sugar (300g)
- 2 large eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ½ teaspoon Princess emulsion¹ or almond extract optional
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 4 ½ cups all-purpose flour (560g)
- 2 cups powdered sugar (230g)
- 1 Tablespoon meringue powder
- 3 Tablespoons water
- ¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
- Food coloring² optional
- Nonpareil sprinkles optional
- Preheat oven to 350F (175C).
- In a large bowl (or in a stand mixer), use an electric mixer to beat butter and sugar together until well-creamed and thoroughly combined.
- Add egg, salt, and extracts, and beat until combined.
- With mixer on low speed, gradually add flour, stirring until completely combined.
- Divide dough into two equal parts. Lightly flour a clean surface and roll one portion of dough to be ¼” thick.
- Cut out animal shape, cutting cookies as close together as possible then regroup any scraps and re-roll to get more cookies. Repeat with second half of dough once you have finished with the first.
- Transfer cookies to parchment paper lined baking sheet, spacing at least 1 inch apart.
- Bake in 350F (175C) oven until cookies are just beginning to turn a light golden brown, about 8-10 minutes. Allow cookies to cool for 5 minutes on baking sheet before transferring to cooling rack to cool completely before icing.
- Whisk together powdered sugar and meringue powder. Add water and vanilla extract. Use an electric mixer to beat until soft peaks form. Stir in food coloring, if using.
- Holding cookies gently by their base, dip the surface of each cookie in the icing. Return to cooling rack or a wax paper lined baking sheet and sprinkle immediately with nonpareils, if using. Allow icing to harden before enjoying (about 15-30 minutes).
²I used Americolor gel “electric pink” food coloring