Review: Williams-Sonoma Circus Cookie Cutters

June 1, 2008 · 34 comments · Print This Post

in Baked Goods, Cookies, Desserts, Gift Ideas, Nostalgia, Products, Reviews, Snacks

Choo Choo!

I’m an impulse shopper, especially when it comes to kitchen gadgets and products.  If you show me something pretty, shiny, or god forbid pink and it somehow relates to cooking than I absolutely have to possess it.  So when I got a new product email from Williams-Sonoma last week featuring animal crackers on parade and the promise of making them in my own home I went temporarily insane and made a beeline straight to the store to pick up the cookie cutters and a mix to try at home.

In some ways these purchases remind me of the way it used to feel when I was a kid and I would successfully talk my mom into buying me yet another She-Ra doll even though someone really should have put up a “no vacancy” sign at the Crystal Castle long ago.  The fictional inhabitants of the Whispering Woods were already experiencing some serious overflow into my Victorian dollhouse, and the dollhouse dwellers were unimpressed cohabiting with a group of buxom, pastel haired gladiators.  Or so I would imagine… but I had to have more!

Lining Up for the Big Show

Today I decided to test out the animal cracker kit so I mixed up the dough, chilled it, and cut out the cute little circus shapes.  I had a hard time at first.  The lions were being stubborn and I broke a lot of the giraffes’ necks, but somehow via some miracle I didn’t have a fit and I got everything cut out, chilled again, and properly baked.  The cookie mix was very good.  It almost tastes exactly like animal crackers from the store.  The clerk at Williams-Sonoma told me that he had tested the mix as well and he thought the baked cookies tasted like the animal crackers he ate as a kid, which apparently are not how animal crackers taste now.  While I can remember copious details about She-Ra, I’m at a loss when it comes to flavor memory so I’ll take his word for it.

I think that kids would love making these!  I don’t have any, but I have a CK and he happily munched a small plate with a glass of milk.  So now I own animal cracker cookie cutters forever and ever.  Who thinks I’ll ever use them again?

Note: Just so that you’re aware, if you purchase the cookie cutters the back of the circus car shaped box has a recipe on it so you don’t necessarily have to purchase a pre-made mix.

Animal Impulse

{ 34 comments… read them below or add one }

1 rachel June 1, 2008 at 5:47 pm

I bought the cookie cutters this weekend and it is all your fault! I am trying to figure out my own animal cracker recipe.


2 Erin June 1, 2008 at 6:05 pm

Hey Rachel – I’m so glad I can be a “bad” influence on others 🙂 Good luck with creating your own recipe! I’ll be interested to see what you come up with. I used the mix and half of it is now freezing in a ball. I just couldn’t deal with cutting out 10,000 of these little guys. It will keep until another time. I was pretty fascinated by the recipe they include on the cookie cutter box. Animal crackers are definitely something that I have always eaten and wondered…what is that spice?! You can taste the nutmeg but apparently “Mace” is the mystery of the animal cracker universe. Honesty I have a lot of spices kicking around, but not that one.


3 Pam June 1, 2008 at 6:16 pm

I had to argue with myself in the store the other day not to buy these. But seeing how well they work, I might let my impulse-buying side win next time.


4 Sarah June 1, 2008 at 7:25 pm

I have seen these and keep wanting to buy them. Yours turned out so cute!


5 Frantichomecook June 1, 2008 at 8:33 pm

That is precious!!! I’m going to Digg you.


6 Robin S. June 1, 2008 at 11:30 pm

A couple of weeks ago, I found myself in Williams-Sonoma like an excited school girl. I too just “had” to have these cute cookie cutters. I initially picked up the box of cookie mix…only to talk myself out of it moments later. I just knew I’d be able to find a recipe for the Barnum’s Circus Animal Crackers somewhere online. Someone else just had to have already figured out this recipe.

This evening, I set to the task of surfing every nook and cranny of the internet to find a recipe that looked anything like what may resemble those original little cookies in the circus box with the white string handle. After hours of searching, I stumbled upon your site…and after reading to the end of your post, I noticed your “Note” on the fact that there was a recipe on the back of the box of cookie cutters. I promptly cursed myself and got up from the couch laughing while my husband asked what was wrong. I walked to the other room to grab my box of cookie cutters, turned it over and saw the recipe…handed the box to him and both of just sat here shaking our heads.

Just think…how much more wasted time do you think I would I have spent searching for this recipe (which I already had in my possession on the dang box…HAHA)! Thanks for the “you could have had a V8” slap to the forehead!


7 linda June 2, 2008 at 4:52 am

Very cute! Now I need them too 😉


8 Tara June 2, 2008 at 8:08 am

It takes a bit of a drive to our closest Williams-Sinoms (oh how I wish they would ship in Canada); but I do think that these cutters are well worth the drive. How sweet these would be for children, maybe even tarted up with a bit of icing to parade around a birthday cake.


9 EB June 2, 2008 at 1:57 pm

I saw those the other day! I love that you took the chance on them. Any shot at covering them in pink and white frosting with sprinkles? I think they’d be Princess of Power approved.


10 Hillary June 2, 2008 at 2:01 pm

They look like they came out great! Now I kind of want to go buy the kit. Too cute!


11 sharon June 2, 2008 at 2:43 pm

I’m a sucker for kitchen gadgets as well. Your animal crackers are beyond perfect & adorable. I’m very tempted to buy these as well. Williams Sonoma owes you a commission!


12 Cze-Johnson Carrie June 2, 2008 at 3:12 pm

I was on the fence with whether or not to get these. Rhena’s really into the raw-dough eating phase, though, and since the shapes are too cute, and rhena’s all of like 30 pounds soaking wet… we may have to hold off for a little while longer.

super-cute, though!!! and kudos for the nice coloring. those little skinny cookies get burned so easily… yours came out very even!


13 NIKI June 2, 2008 at 5:37 pm

Those are really cute Erin!


14 Allen June 2, 2008 at 5:52 pm

YUM — I love animal crackers … but would never *ever* have the patience to make them. I know my limitations, the cookie cutters look intricate and I know I would sadly deform the animals while prying them out.

I applaud you — they look delicious!


15 robin June 2, 2008 at 11:07 pm

Absolutely adorable! I’m never one to buy kitchen gadgets like this since my kitchen is so tiny… but these are soooo cute. And I could make excuses to myself that my little niece and nephew would love them.


16 erin June 3, 2008 at 4:48 pm

could a simple shortbread recipe do, with less butter to make them seem more crunchy like a cracker?


17 Erin June 3, 2008 at 5:58 pm

erin – I say go for it! Shortbread would probably work well. I was actually thinking these would be great as gingerbread cutouts during the holidays too, or even just plan sugar cookies with a few sprinkles of colored sugar.


18 Elle June 3, 2008 at 8:36 pm

Adorable! I love the idea of using them for gingerbread cookies at the holidays!


19 Crazy Daisy June 4, 2008 at 12:57 am

OMG! She-Ra!! That sure brought back flashes of my childhood! And the cookie cutters. I am trying to figure out how to reason why I need these… 🙂 I just do! They are so cute!


20 Erin June 4, 2008 at 3:32 am

So awesome this got featured on Ohdeedoh! Congratulations!


21 malvestita June 4, 2008 at 10:05 pm

these are adorable! i was just leafing through the new ws catalog right now and saw them. i think they’re worth making solely for the nostalgia alone (i too munched animal crackers and watched she-ra who was much cooler than he-man!). thanks for posting this.


22 farida June 5, 2008 at 1:27 am

These look adorable! I really want to buy a box for my daughter. She loves baking cookies and cutting them in all shapes possible:) This will make a great addition to her own little kitchenware:)


23 Kim June 8, 2008 at 7:43 am

I haven’t been this excited in ages! I am going to be on vacation for two weeks with my grandsons, and I am running to the store to buy the cutters so I can make them. Thanks for sharing.


24 Phillip July 24, 2009 at 12:39 pm

So we’ve tried making these twice now, and have had less than no luck in getting the cutouts to stay in the cutters as described to transfer them to the baking sheet. Our dough seems too soft for them to hold together, and sticks to our work surface. Did you have to finagle it at all or is this something I can blame on South Texas heat and humidity?


25 Erin July 26, 2009 at 10:12 am

Phillip – I do recall having a similar issue when I started using the cookie cutters. If I remember correctly I had to really flour the cutters thoroughly before trying to press the cookies. If the dough is too soft you probably need to firm it up with a little extra flour. Chilling the dough before rolling it out will also make it more firm and therefore easier to work with.


26 Shanna September 7, 2009 at 5:12 pm

These are adorable
I have been searching all over for an animal cracker/cookie recipe to make at home. What is the recipe on the back of the Williams Sonoma box? Are you willing to share that? I have my own mini cutters so no need to get the kit – although the circus animals are adorable – but I am searching for a good recipe. Thanks!!


27 yaz October 30, 2009 at 5:33 pm

We got the mix as a gift for my daughter along with cookie cutters, but not the animal ones. I thought the mix was tasty and dug the recipe up on the WS website:


28 Martha December 26, 2009 at 4:11 pm

Today was the first time using these cookie cutters using the recipe on the back. We let the dough sit in refrigerator over night but it took longer than 5 min to get the cookie dough in a condition to roll out. But if you wait too long with the dough gets too sticky (due to the butter in dough), it gets harder to work with.
Took a little practice using the cookie cutters. Older kids got the hang of it quicky, younger kids got frustrated. Good idea to have extra small cookie cutters on hand for younger kids to use. We did love the taste of finished cookies.


29 jake January 21, 2010 at 7:03 pm

We have the set that came with the mix but our 2 year old destroyed the portion of the box with the recipe on back. Can any post just the first part of the recipe?


30 Erin January 21, 2010 at 7:19 pm

Hi Jake,

I actually have some quick iphone images that I took of my set and have occasionally shared with people. I’ll email them to you.



31 Rachel February 4, 2010 at 4:47 pm

It appears that Williams-Sonoma doesn’t sell this cookie cutter set anymore. Any chance that someone doesn’t use their set anymore and would like to sell it? I have a couple of munchkins who would love to make their own animal crackers. If so, please email me at [email protected]. Thanks!


32 Buttercup March 16, 2010 at 11:20 am

Thanks for buying and reviewing these. I am in Williams-Sonoma pretty frequently and these always taunt me with their adorableness, but I was worried they wouldn’t come out looking as cute as they do on the box.

Rachel, the last time I checked at my Williams-Sonoma (3/14/10), they were still there. Maybe your store is just out temporarily?


33 Grace March 6, 2011 at 12:02 am

There are a couple of eBay sellers who are selling these cookie cutters. I just bought one myself!


34 goggly June 4, 2015 at 6:51 pm

They are so small, however, that some of the specific of the pet is hard
to see and tough to get out of the cutter.


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