Growing up doesn’t seem too bad when your May Day baskets mature as well. These “grown-up” May Day baskets, featuring Whole Grain Animal Cracker Cookies, Prosecco, and gorgeously designed recipe cards and tea towels from Doe A Deer, make the ho-hum of “adulting” a little sweeter. And what’s not love when an old childhood favorite, like animal crackers, gets a healthy makeover while maintaining its charm?
The topic of May Day came up a few weeks ago around the butcher-block table in the test kitchen. I had never imagined that some people could think the tradition of leaving baskets filled with treats and candy on doorsteps as weird. “So you’re telling me you’ve never eating a treat that’s been left on your doorstep from an unknown admirer? How weird…” Wait, am I weird?
I realize now I sounded absolutely nutty. But I’m curious, do you partake in this tradition of leaving treats on doorsteps, ringing the doorbell, and dashing? Only a few of us at work have done this and the majority had never heard of it. I wonder if this is mostly a midwest thing or even a central Iowa thing. But that also sounds crazy.
The baskets I usually got were filled with popcorn and a few pieces of highly sought after candy, it was like winning the lottery as a kid. Two pink starbursts?! They must really like me! Nowadays, it’s less about the candy and more about the tradition. And the Prosecco. Oh, and these adorable Animal Cracker Cookies, the reason you’re probably here.
I love everything about these Whole Grain Animal Cracker Cookies. First off, they’re made entirely with whole grains, so as someone who is trying to be an adult and make “smart choices”, well whole grains fit the bill. Simply flavored with honey, cinnamon, and nutmeg, these animal cracker cookies don’t really need much to finish them off, but for a festive touch I like to give them a glaze. What’s even better, the glaze is colored with natural ingredients, no fake food coloring in sight. Freeze dried strawberries, matcha powder, and turmeric do the trick nicely.
Although this dough would work wonderfully with any cookie cutter shape you desire, these animal cracker cookie cutters are personally a must. They easily stamp and release the dough, they’re simple to clean, they’re perfect size, and add just enough design that makes these cookies statement-worthy.
All wrapped up in a gorgeous tea towel and set in a basket along with a mini bottle of Prosecco and a handwritten recipe card for these Whole Grain Animal Cracker Cookies, you’ll be the most popular admirer in town!
If you can’t tell by now, I’m currently crushing on Doe A Deer products. Designed and sold by local Iowa graphic designer, Regan Doely, her tea towels and recipe cards (among other great products) are fabulous for gifting, or gifting to yourself! Check out her site for more information or head over to her Etsy shop for an array of goods.
Whole Grain Animal Cracker Cookies
- Prep Time: 20 mins
- Cook Time: 40 mins
- Total Time: 1 hour + chilling
- Yield: 90 cookies 1x
An old childhood favorite, animal crackers, gets a healthy makeover while maintaining its charm. Made with whole grains, naturally sweetened, and naturally colored, these cookies are a feel-good treat.
For the Animal Cracker Cookies:
- 1 ½ cups whole-wheat pastry flour
- 1 cup oat flour
- 2 tablespoons milk powder
- ½ teaspoon baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon table salt
- ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ⅛ teaspoon grated fresh nutmeg
- 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
- ¼ cup sugar
- 3 tablespoons honey
- 1 large egg
- ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
For the glaze:
- 2 cups powdered sugar or powdered coconut sugar*
- 2 tablespoons milk or almond milk
- ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 2½ teaspoons finely ground freeze dried strawberries
- 1 teaspoon matcha powder
- ½ teaspoon turmeric
Animal Cracker Cookies:
Whisk together whole-wheat pastry flour, oat flour, milk powder, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter, sugar, and honey at medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes; scraping down sides of the bowl as needed. Add egg and vanilla and beat at medium to combine. Add half of the flour mixture to mixer and beat at low until nearly combined, add remaining flour mixture and beat until completely combined.
Transfer dough to a sheet of plastic wrap, form into a disk, and wrap tightly; chill in refrigerator for at least two hours for overnight.
When ready to bake, remove dough from refrigerator and let rest at room temperature for 5 minutes. Heat oven to 350°F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper.
On a lightly floured work surface, roll dough to ¼-inch thick.
Stamp out dough with cookie cutters. Transfer cookies to prepared baking sheets spacing ½-inch apart. Bake cookies, one sheet at a time, until cookies are golden and crisp around the edges, 10–12 minutes, rotating sheet halfway through baking. Let cookies cool on sheet 5 minutes then transfer to wire racks to cool completely. Reroll remaining dough and repeat until all is used.
Mix powdered sugar, milk, and vanilla together in a medium bowl until smooth; divide glaze into three separate bowls. Whisk ground strawberries into one bowl until smooth. Whisk matcha powder into another bowl until smooth and whisk turmeric in last bowl until smooth; adding more of each ingredient, respectively, until desired hue is reached.
Brush glaze on cooled cookies, let glaze dry until firm then store cookies in an airtight container for up to 1 week.
To make oat flour, process old-fashioned rolled oats in a food processor until a fine meal is formed.
The amount of oats you use yields the same amount of flour, so you’ll need 1 cup oats for this. I like to grind a few cups at a time and store the remaining for future use, it saves time down the road!
Bob’s Red Mill has an oat flour product, I haven’t used it in these cookies, but that should work here as well.
As you should with any flour, make sure to fluff the flour before spooning it into your measuring cup to avoid packing and over measuring.
*Making powdered coconut sugar is easy. Simply process 1 cup coconut sugar and 2 teaspoons cornstarch in a food processor or blender until pulverized and powdery.
Happy May Day to all us weirdos who celebrate it!
Want some animal cracker cookie cutters for yourself? Here’s where I found mine!
These are so adorable!! I love all of the natural ingredients you chose for coloring 😀
Thanks Lindsay! Such an easy swap for food coloring!
What adorable cookies! I’ve never heard of this particular May Day tradition (we always delivered baskets to assisted living centers growing up), but I can definitely see it being practiced in my rural hometown in Eastern Oregon–so perhaps it is more of a rural tradition where everyone knows their neighbor? Either way, it sounds so fun!
I love your tradition of delivering baskets to assisted living centers, what a great idea! Small town traditions are so wonderful!
I have never heard of this May Day tradition but what a terrific one – and how lucky are those people getting these adorable cookies (and Prosecco no less!) Pinning these 🙂
Haha it is an odd tradition 🙂 Thanks Deanna!
These are fantastic Lauren! I had never heard of May Day baskets (even though I grew up in the midwest), but I do have fond memories of animal crackers!! I think you have given us reason to start this tradition next year! Beautiful work.
Thanks Jackie! Crazy how just a short distance away traditions can be so different! 🙂 I hope you enjoy them if you give them a try!
I was wondering if you omitted the milk powder if you thought these would still work, or if there is a good substitute for the milk powder. Thank you!
I think they would still work just fine! The milk powder just helps them crisp up a bit. Let me know how it goes!