Homemade Frosted Animal Crackers

These frosted animal crackers are shaped like backcountry critters: deer, llamas, squirrels, and bears! Covered in white and pink frosting that gets its color from dragon fruit powder, these homemade cookies are a nostalgic treat.

If you’re of a certain age you probably grew up eating frosted animal crackers. Do you remember those? They were circus animal shaped cookies made by a company called Mother’s, frosted in pink and white frosting, and covered with colorful sprinkles. I loved eating them after school on the rare occasions my family would buy an off-the-shelf treat at the grocery store.

I haven’t seen those cookies around in ages… and honestly, I’m sometimes afraid to buy foods I associate with childhood memories because it’s never quite the same. So when I found some fun animal cookie cutters in my giant bin of baking supplies the other day I decided to make frosted animal cookies. I have some pretty fantastic cookie cutter shapes that I use to make sugar cookies and gingerbread, which I’ll have to post soon!

But for today, I decided to make frosted animal crackers in the shape of deer, llamas, squirrels, and bears. In other words, we’re making backcountry animal cookies. 🙂

A plate filled with a pile of pink and white frosted animal cookies

The Pink Color Comes from Dragonfruit

I used dragon fruit powder to add that deep pink hue to the colored frosting. You could also use butterfly pea powder (blue matcha) if you wanted to do a variation with blue frosting. (Tangentially, if you want to experiment with butterfly pea powder you should try my Blue Matcha Baby Yoda Sugar Cookies!)

What is Dragon Fruit Powder?

Dragon fruit powder is made from a fruit that’s also known as pitaya or strawberry pear fruit. It grows on the Hylocereus cactus and is from warm places like Mexico, South America, and Central America. The fruit is a deep purple-pink color on the outside and white on the inside with tiny black seeds. The powder adds a subtle sweetness to food, which makes it perfect for coloring frosting.

Pitaya is a sweet fruit that has become popular as a dried powder in recent years because of its high antioxidant, vitamin, and mineral content. Similar to blue matcha, you can use it in drinks, smoothies, and baked goods! I like to use this Dragon Fruit Powder by Terrasoul Superfoods (affiliate link).

Frosted animal crackers shaped like a squirrel, deer and sheep
Frosted animal crackers shaped like squirrels, bears, llamas, and deer.

Tips for Success

  • Don’t over bake. The cookies will look underdone when you take them out of the oven but they will harden as they cool down. The cookies are done when the edges are set and a light golden brown color.
  • Let them cool. It’s tempting to decorate the cookies immediately, but they need to cool to room temperature before you add the icing. If you try to add it when the cookies are warm it will slide right off.
  • Decorate cookies with sprinkles right after dipping them in the icing. The frosting hardens quickly and the sprinkles will fall off if you wait too long to add them.
  • Can I make the dough in advance? If you want to make the dough in advance, wrap it tightly with plastic wrap and store it in the refrigerator for up to 2-3 days. Just bring the dough to room temperature before rolling and cutting.

Have Fun with the Shapes

You can use whatever animal shapes you like! The cookie cutters I used ranged from 3 to 4 inches long, so if you use smaller cutters the bake time may need to be shortened a bit. Likewise, if you use larger cutters you may need to add a couple more minutes of bake time.

A plate of frosted animal crackers

How to Store Frosted Animal Cookies

These cookies can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for 5 days. They can also be kept in the freezer for about 2 months. Just let the icing harden completely, then transfer them to an airtight, freezer-safe container. Thaw on the counter when you’re ready to eat a cookie.

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Frosted Animal Crackers

A plate of frosted animal crackers
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These frosted animal crackers are shaped like backcountry critters: deer, llamas, squirrels, and bears! Covered in white and pink frosting that gets its color from dragon fruit powder, these homemade cookies are a nostalgic treat.

  • Author: Rustic Family Recipes
  • Prep Time: 30 minutes
  • Chill Time: 30 minutes
  • Cook Time: 8 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour 8 minutes
  • Yield: 24 cookies
  • Category: Cookies
  • Method: Oven
  • Cuisine: American

Ingredients

For the cookies:

  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg, room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the icing:

  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 tablespoon meringue powder
  • 3 tablespoons whole milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon dragonfruit powder
  • Colorful sprinkles, for decoration

Instructions

Make the Cookies

Prep your tools. Preheat oven to 350F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Combine dry ingredients. In a large bowl, combine all-purpose flour, baking powder, salt and set aside.

Mix wet ingredients. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the egg and vanilla extract and beat again.

Add dry ingredients. Turn speed to low and gradually add the flour mixture until a dough is formed.

Shape the cookies. Turn the dough on a floured surface and roll out to about 1/2 inch thickness. Using animal cookie cutters, cut cookies in different shapes. Depending on the size of your cutters, you should get around 24-30 cookies.

Bake. Place cookies onto prepared baking sheet and bake at 350F for 7-8 minutes, until the edges are set and light golden in color. Let cool completely on the baking sheet before icing.

Make the Icing & Decorate

Make the icing base. In a medium bowl, mix the powdered sugar, meringue powder, milk and vanilla extract until smooth, with no lumps of sugar remaining.

Add color to half the icing. Transfer half of the icing to a different bowl and add the dragonfruit powder. Mix well.

Dip the surface of each cookie into the icing and lift up. Hold the cookies by the side with the tips of your fingers and let the icing drip off for a few seconds. Repeat for all cookies, dipping half of them in the white icing and the other half in the pink one.

Add sprinkles and allow to set. Transfer cookies onto a cooling rack, decorate with sprinkles and let sit for about 20-30 minutes.

Notes

  • Counter: These cookies can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for 5 days.
  • Freezer: They can also be kept in the freezer for about 2 months. Just let the icing harden completely, then transfer them to an airtight, freezer-safe container.

Keywords: frosted animal crackers, frosted animal cookies, mothers cookies, dragon fruit powder

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