Forget buying these at the store... These circus animal cookies are way better when you make them at home! They are so delicious and bite-sized that they make the perfect treat for anyone, young and old!
In a medium bowl whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
In the bowl of a stand mixer use the paddle attachment or use a hand mixer to beat the butter and sugar together until fluffy and smooth, about 2 minutes. Add the lemon zest, egg, and vanilla and beat for another minute, until combined. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl and mix until combined.
Add the flour mixture to the butter and sugar mixture and mix on low until combined. Divide the dough into two equal portions. Wrap with plastic wrap and chill for 2 hours.
Once chilled, preheat the oven to 350°.
Starting with half the dough, roll out on a lightly floured surface until it is ¼ inch thick. Cut until animal shapes using mini cooking cutters. If necessary, use a toothpick to poke the shapes out of the cookie cutters.
Gather the dough scraps and press them together into a ball. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill while you roll out the other half of the dough. Repeat until all the dough has been used.
Arrange the cookies on parchment-lined baking sheets, leaving at least 1 inch between them. Bake for 9-10 minutes, rotating halfway through. Let the cookies cool for 2-3 minutes on the baking sheet before transferring them to a cooling rack. Let the cookies cool completely before frosting.
In a medium microwave-safe bowl, add the chocolate wafers and shortening. Heat for 30 seconds, stir, and then 30 more seconds. Add the vanilla extract and whisk until smooth. Separate half into another bowl and set aside. Add one drop of pink food coloring to the first bowl and whisk until smooth.
Carefully dip the tops of the cookies in the chocolate and sprinkle with nonpareils. The cookies can chill at room temperature, or be refrigerated to set faster