I'm often asked what are the best ingredients to use when making homemade animal crackers. Well obviously this totally depends on your own personal taste preferences, as animal crackers are flexible enough to accommodate many different ingredients. You can sweeten them with honey, white sugar, brown sugar, chocolate syrup, or even melted candy. You can grind different nuts into the flour base, such as almonds, walnuts, pecans, peanuts, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, and many others. When it comes to the flour itself, I have used just about every type to create animal crackers, such as white all purpose baking flour, whole wheat baking flour, ground oat flour, rice flour, organic flour, pastry flour, and gluten free flour. So if you're thinking about making a batch of homemade animal crackers, then don't limit yourself as to what ingredients can and cannot be incorporated into the recipe.
One of the key components in creating a batch of animal crackers, is deciding how sweet you want your crackers to be. If you plan to make the crackers for young children, then you will probably want to only lightly sweeten them. If you are diabetic, then you can make with a variety of sugar free sweeteners, and they will still taste great. If you are making them for yourself, however you are trying to lose weight, then again a low sugar or low honey batch is probably the way to go. I personally have a major sweet tooth, so I always add plenty of sugar or honey to my animal cracker batches. I don't make them as sweet as standard cookies, however it's close. When making these delicious homemade snacks, know that there is no standard or universal way to make them, you can really custom tailor them to your own needs, even if that means zero sugar. Make them as sweet as you need to, as it's very hard to mess up a batch.
With regard to the level of fat that each batch contains, there are numerous ingredients you can use. I personally don't worry too much about my fat intake, and I find that animal crackers made with salted or unsalted real butter taste the best. Coconut oil is another slightly unhealthy ingredient to use with them, however the finished crackers always taste amazing. If you are trying to regulate your fat intake, then you can use fat free vegan butter or fat free margarine. Extra virgin olive oil is another delicious ingredient to use when baking animal crackers, and it contains healthy fats that your body needs. Other fatty ingredients within animal crackers, are milk and eggs, however you can make delicious animal crackers without eggs, and the milk is easy to replace with healthier alternatives, such as homemade almond milk. Soy milk is another fat free ingredient that tastes greats cooked into the animal crackers.
When it comes to deciding how crazy to get with ingredient choice, I generally go all out. In the past I have made animal crackers with shredded coconut, peanut butter, graham cracker crumbs, toffee, grated apple, bananas, ground coffee beans, Reese's Pieces, cranberries, and many other off the beaten path ingredient choices. There is no limit to what you can do with these crackers, so by all means get creative. If you have a great ingredient idea that you aren't sure about, create dough samplers so that you can try different ingredient choices without changing the whole batch. For example when your dough is still in the unmixed stages, separate it out into different bowls, that way you can mix any crazy ingredient into the small mixtures. Just be sure that you know which ones they are when you bake them, so that you can pull them aside and give them a taste test. Thanks for checking out this article, have fun baking.