Homemade animal crackers, from Stella Parks' new book BraveTart: Iconic American Desserts.
I have a handful of baking idols, and let me tell you: Stella Parks is one of them.
Stella was named by Food & Wine as one of America's Best New Pastry Chefs and is the pastry wizard at Serious Eats. You probably also know her as BraveTart. I started reading her blog BraveTart shortly after I first started blogging. She takes a completely no-nonese guide to baking (especially with her macaron manifesto), and I dig a girl that makes absolutely everything from scratch, even her sprinkles.
She's been working on her cookbook BraveTart: Iconic American Desserts for about 5 years now, I think. And after one look inside, you'll see why: Stella has mastered all of your favorite American desserts, from scratch. All of the cookies the elves make in the cookie aisle at the grocery store? Stella's got you covered. All of the cookies the girl scouts sell to you? Stella teaches you how to make them from scratch. Even the freaking McDonald's fried apple pies, she has down to a science. Homemade candy bars, ice cream (with all of the toppings you love), pies, doughnuts and impressive cakes---this book is seriously the new go-to baking book.
And if I haven't convinced you, I want to mention that her homemade cinnamon rolls are made in just one bowl: make the frosting first, then the filling, and then the dough. How genius is that?! But honestly, the entire book is full of genius tips and food history lessons---it's a freaking gem. This book is the new must-have for anyone who likes to bake.
When I saw she had a recipe for homemade animal crackers, I stopped in my tracks. My parents had just given Camille store-bought animal crackers (yes, I cried a little), and I had just bought animal cookie cutters at a local kitchen shop to try to mitigate the damage (heh). Also, once you make homemade graham crackers, homemade animal crackers are the logical next step.
It was completely meant to be. Plus, Stella's recipe for homemade animal cracker cookies uses a few unexpected ingredients to make them taste 100% authentic: ground freeze-dried corn and malted milk powder. While it's an extra trip to the store for these items, the recipe makes about 75 cookies, so the batch lasts me a few weeks (as long as I stay out of them!). But actually, I stock freeze-dried veggies in my pantry anyway because it's an awesome way to get kids to eat veggies, and my husband has malted milk powder in the pantry at all times because he drinks chocolate ice cream malts for lunch (<--I wish I was kidding about that).
The cookie cutters I used are more like a combo of a cutter and a stamp. The exact ones I used are on Amazon here.
And congrats, Stella. It is absolutely beautiful and I can't wait to bake my way through the entire thing. I'm tackling your cinnamon rolls next, and then pretty much the entire candy section :D
Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 15Total Fat: 0gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 0gCholesterol: 8mgSodium: 14mgCarbohydrates: 2gFiber: 0gSugar: 0gProtein: 1g