Baking fun: Tiny whole wheat animal cookies with yogurt icing
Time for a tea party!
Playing with our food
At our house, we play with our food, especially when the grandkids come over. The other day, we made dozens and dozens of tiny barnyard animal cookies.
The good news is, these whole wheat sugar cookies taste as good (we think better) as the store-bought kind. Yogurt in the icing doesn't mean we use less sugar, but along with the whole wheat in the cookies, it helps make them just a little healthier. Plus, we know exactly what is in our cookies. No high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) or unpronounceable ingredients.
Because we buy only organic ingredients, with the exception of those little sprinkles which I've yet to find organic, we limit ours and our grandchildren's exposure to genetically modified organisims (GMOs).
We all had loads of fun, especially our granddaughter, cutting out the tiny critters, then lifting them to the baking sheet. She had even more fun spreading icing (and taking a few licks now and then). Just like the store cookies, these have multi-colored sprinkles on top. Some have a lot of sprinkles.
On this page: A link to whole wheat sugar cookie dough recipe we used to make these tidbits; my brand new, tangy, yogurt icing recipe; and lots of how-to pictures.
Start with dough from this recipe
I wish I could make it easy for you and just reprint the recipe here, but you know there are issues about duplicating content on web pages, even when it's our own. With apologies, I must send you to the dough recipe on this page, Fantastically Good Whole Wheat Sugar Cookies.
This is, by far, the best sugar cookie, white flour or whole wheat, I've ever eaten. I think you will find it worth the extra click to get the recipe and mix the dough.
Once you have the dough together, come back here to learn how we made these with two of our grandchildren and to get the yogurt icing, which thankfully, isn't already on another page. That recipe will live here.
Don't forget to have a lot of fun with the little cook's helpers in the kitchen while you're at it!
Got your dough? Let's make tiny animal cookies!
Once your dough is ready, let the older tykes help you roll it out Roll the dough between two pieces of parchment paper to about 1/8" thickness.
One cool trick to make cookie cutting easier
Refrigerate the dough after you roll it.
For one, it's much easier to roll out while it's soft and pliable. Secondly, it chills much more quickly, saving time overall. In fact, the thinly rolled doll chills enough to cut easily in 15-30 minutes.
We roll ours between two pieces of parchment paper, slide the rolled dough, still in its parchment sandwich, onto a baking sheet, and pop in the refrigerator for up to 30 minutes.
The thin sheet fits easily on top of other foods in your fridge, as long as they're all about the same height.
If you chill the dough too long, it can get a bit brittle, but wait a minute or two and it quickly softens enough to cut without breaking.
While you wait, get your cookie cutters ready
Stainless steel cookie cutters are safe and easy to use. I have the same brand you see here. They packaged mine with two or three cutters that are different than those shown. Otherwise the two sets are identical.
This one comes with a fun kitten, a dog, pig, cow, chick, duck, and sheep.
For city-bound kids like two of our grandchildren, using barnyard cookie cutters is a good way, to introduce conversations about different kinds of farm animals, especially if you relax later with a couple of fun books about the same animals.
To keep the dough from sticking while we cut, we keep a small cup of flour handy to dip the cutters periodically.
These food-grade stainless steel cookie cutters are nearly identical to mine. Wash and dry them immediately after use to keep them sharp and ready to use. Avoid letting them soak in water.
We rock the cookie cutters
Our granddaughters love to bake with us, and the four of us had a blast cutting out all the shapes, sometimes breaking pieces and putting them in the re-roll pile.
Working with little ones takes patience and a little more time. It took us about an hour to roll out, cut and bake the entire batch of cookie dough, but we sure did giggle a lot.
Let the little ones do as much of the work as they want
They learn fast when they are eager to help. When our six-year-old granddaughter comes to play, she asks what we are making in the kitchen today. She's been asking since she was two, so I like to plan a project that builds on her skills and stretches them a bit.
As toddlers, she and her cousins improved eye-hand coordination through the use of age-appropriate baking tools. They also developed their language skills, naming familiar utensils and learning the names and uses of new ones.
As they grow older and begin reading recipes and helping with the measuring, they put their budding reading and math skills to work, often learning new concepts, such as fractions, ahead of schedule.
I'm afraid I neglected to take pictures of the cookies cooling on the racks. After baking, cool completely before icing, about thirty minutes. Then it's time for the most fun part--glazing and decorating!
Time to make the yogurt icing!
For the last few years, I've relied on blogger Sara's recipe from blogger Sara's icing recipe from our Best Bites.
I like it because it does not require egg whites or meringue powder as royal icing does, and because it dries hard enough that the cookies can be eaten--or packed in a jar or tin--without sticking to fingers or each other.
What I really wanted, though, was a good yogurt icing recipe. I've scoured the Internet off and on for years for one that would work as well--and taste as good--as this one.
In one of those slap-the-forehead-why-did-it-take-me-so-long moments, I realized all I need do is substitute my wholesome homemade yogurt for the milk in Sara's recipe. Doh!
Yogurt Icing Recipe
In addition to substituting yogurt for the milk in Sara's recipe, I also substitute orange extract for the almond flavoring. That's because several of our family members have nut allergies.
Here's my version of her recipe. We love the slightly tangy taste it imparts to our cookies.
Prep Time: 5-10 minutes
Total Time: 5-10 minutes
Serves: Bunches and bunches
- 1 lb. Organic cane powdered sugar
- 6 -8 T Organic, live-culture yogurt
- 6 T Organic corn syrup
- 1 t Organic orange extract
- Whisk together the yogurt and sugar until it is smooth. It may be a little on the thick side.
- Whisk in the corn syrup and orange extract, which thins the icing a bit. You want it as you see on the spoon in this photograph, thin enough to dribble off the spoon in a thin, steady line.
- Add food coloring if desired. We left most of ours plain, but added red food coloring to about 1/4 cup because our little granddaughter wanted some pink cookies too.
- Using the back of a spoon, spread the icing rather thickly on the cookies.
- Add sprinkles or other decorations as desired.
- Lay cookies on wire rack and let dry overnight. Store in air-tight container such as a Fido jar for up to two weeks, if they last that long.
- Refrigerate or freeze any leftover icing until needed. Keeps in refrigerator up to 14 days and in freezer for months.
All finished icing - Getting ready for a tea party
We saved just one jar of unglazed cookies and frosted all the rest, getting sticky goo all over our hands and a little on the granddaughter's face. She may have been nibbling a few as she went.
After letting the cookies dry on the rack overnight, we packed them into our favorite Fido jars.
The small jars each hold about four dozen of the tasty morsels. We got several jars worth, and ate a bunch more before they had a chance to be stored. You can store in these jars for up to two weeks, if they last that long, or put them in freezer containers and freeze them to pull out when the little ones come over.
Where can you get those fun jars? - Right here
I love these jars! I store everything from homemade baked goods to bulk grains to leftovers and homemade yogurt in these containers. I like both brands equally well and recommend either. They make beautiful gifts when filled with your homemade delicacies and tied with a pretty ribbon.
You may notice that I have two different jars in one of the photos above. The taller one with the frosted tidbits is this one. It has a slightly more graceful shape than the Fido below.
This is the jar storing the unglazed critters in the photo above. It is heavy, sturdy, and has a nice cubic shape that is handy when filling and emptying.
Tea party time! - With Great-Great-Grandmother's little tea set
The tea pot, sugar bowl and creamer are all that's left of my grandmother's tea set. The little ones love having a tea party using their great-great grandmother's things. On this day, we had milk with frosted and unfrosted treats. We grandparents prefer the less-sugary, but still so buttery and sweet unfrosted cookies, while the children, of course, like the iced ones with sprinkles.
I'm so glad you visited this page. What do you think of spending an afternoon baking animal cookies with the little ones in your life?