BraveTart

Food and Wine Best Pastry Chef winner Stella Parks recreates and re-imagines childhood favorites into sophisticated modern desserts.

BraveTart: How to Make Animal Crackers

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[Photographs: Sarah Jane Sanders]

The variety of sanctioned nomenclature for Stylized Animal Snacks boggles the mind. "Wait, what's a Stylized Animal Snack?" you ask. Well, I'd call 'em Animal Crackers, but you might've called them Animal Cookies. Unless you called them Circus Animals. Or did you prefer Zoo or Carousel Animals?

Some of these have frosting while others have icing and some complain that some come plain. Of the plain sort, we have Barnum's "Animal Crackers" which taste like cookies and come in a box and Carley's "Animal Cookies" which taste like crackers and come in a bag.

If you'd like to sugar coat the issue, you'll have to choose between cookies "fully" or "lightly" frosted. Keebler, unwilling to miss out on any potential consumer base, offers both frosted animal crackers and iced animal cookies. Still waiting to see if they'll debut frosted animal cookies and iced animal crackers to round out the collection.

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The glazed animals (to use a neutral term) can come in white, or pink and white, the latter of which may or may not be bedazzled with rainbow sprinkles. And just when it seems all of the possible permutations of the above options have been calculated, you realize you forgot about Japan.

Enough! Give me a damned animal cracker. No sugar rush, no icing or frosting or whatever you call it, no sprinkles, no boxcar. I want the kind of off-brand business you can only find in some vending machine at an abandoned rest stop somewhere between Pennsylvania and Kentucky. The kind of cracker that never tastes quite like you want but perhaps like what you need. Barely sweet, hyper crisp and just a little playful.

Don't get me wrong, I have every intention of tackling the frosted, iced, sprinkled, and cookie versions over my illustrious industrial copy catting career. But for now, with the holiday excess behind and New Year's Resolutions ahead, the simplicity of a cracker is just what I need.

Get the Recipe

Homemade Animal Crackers »

About the Author: Stella Parks suffers from an unhealthy obsession with recreating the mass produced snacks of her childhood, but ironically is employed by a Frenchman to make the high brow desserts of his childhood. She blogs that dichotomy at bravetart.com and can be followed on Twitter at @thebravetart.

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