Monday, 17 December 2018

{RECIPE} Strawberry Carob Christmas Spice Dog Treats

Christmas dog treats shaped like bones, trees, gingerbread men, and snowmen

In confession, I simply couldn't resist pulling out the plunger cookie cutters to make a few final holiday treats.  My go-to carob powder smells a lot like cocoa powder to my underpowdered human nose, but in flavour  it's subtly sweet, a little nutty, and sort of reminds me of gingerbread. (I've tried it in human baking....not taste-testing dog treats, although I've been tempted! Hehe...) With spice and all things nice on the brain, I adapted our strawberry carob recipe to make a treat spiced up with a hint of cinnamon, ginger, and the rich scent of blackstrap molasses. Cue the drool! 

Step-by-step instructions for making Christmas dog treats with plunger cookie cutters

Strawberry Carob Christmas Spice Dog Treats

🥄 Treat Ingredients:

1 egg
1/4 cup water (or dog-friendly low-sodium stock)
1/4 cup pureed strawberries (volume should be measured after pureeing)
1 tbsp blackstrap molasses (optional)
Sprinkle of  Ceylon cinnamon and/or ground ginger (optional)
1 tbsp ground flax/LSA (optional)
1/4 cup carob powder
Approximately 1 to 1+1/4 cups brown rice flour (plus additional for rolling)

🥄 Making the Treats: 

Preheat your oven to 180C (or local equivalent) and gather together your baking ingredients and materials.

Combine all ingredient except flour in a bowl, then incrementally add flour until the dough has a nice firm pliable consistency. Flour quantity may vary slightly, so work incrementally. If it isn't firm enough, add a touch more flour. If your mixture is looking a bit dry, you can add a little bit of water, olive oil, and/or additional stock to adjust. 

Rest dough (optional but recommended). On a lightly floured surface, roll and then cut into desired shapes (see tips below if you are using plungers instead of standard cutters) or simply roll into bite-sized balls and flatten gently with a fork. Bake for approximately 10-15 minutes depending on size. Cooking time will vary with shape/size, so keep an eye on the oven. Cool before serving and storage.

Dalmatian dog sniffing a gingerbread man shaped dog treat

To use plunger-style cutters instead of traditional cookie cutters, you need to ensure that you have a nice cohesive dough (see adjustment tips above) that will roll smoothly without cracking, take an impression cleanly, and release from the plunger without difficulty.  Low fat doggy doughs are tricky. Thickness is vital for plungers meant to create impression designs - too thick and things get squishy and hard to release cleanly, too thin and the design may not take well. I find it easiest to roll in smaller batches for a uniform thickness to plunger depth, and you can double check the depth by pressing on the back of your lifted cookie to ensure that there is no gap between the dough and the plunger.  

When working with plungers and stamps, any rising/leavening ingredients in the dough are a risk to the design as they can puff during baking. There are lots of human cookie options without leaveners, but I find most of my doggy doughs are either too sticky, too soft, or too textured to be good candidates for detailed plunger designs so I have used egg in this dough. It works for me, and to help maintain appearances I also bake short/light and then dehydrate.  Either way, these smell great and the dog's don't mind if their treats look less than perfect!

Ball of dog treat dough on rolling sheet with Christmas shaped plunger cookie cutters

Tips and Tricks: 
  • Variations in measurements, individual ingredient types, and options/substitutions as well as variations in egg size, temperatures, etc. are all  part of why we work incrementally when mixing. 
  • Strawberries can be fresh (although I struggle to beat Oli and Humphrey to harvest in our berry patch!) or defrosted from frozen. No berries? This recipe works well with unsweetened applesauce, or you can experiment with other pureed fruits/veggies and make adjustments if/as needed to get a good dough consistency.  
  • In addition to being doggone delicious and fragrant, cinnamon offers some great health benefits to dogs (and people); however, it's not suitable for everyone. Pregnant/nursing dogs in particular should not be given cinnamon. Ceylon cinnamon is the recommended variety for dogs, if/when used. 
  • Resting the dough is optional, but helps with the texture/handling of gluten-free baking dough, like rice flour. I like to rest briefly and then knead a little before final rolling.
  • Treats can be broken for smaller dogs, or made bigger/smaller - just keep an eye on your cooking time - the smaller the cookie, the shorter the baking time.
  • For a crunchier treat, you can let baked treats sit a while in the cooling oven before removing to get a little crispier or pop the baked treats into a dehydrator.
  • Homemade dog treats are best consumed within a couple of days from baking or frozen for longer storage. 
🦴 Hungry for more tasty treats?  You can explore from our treat navigation page, hop straight into our homemade dog treat ideas in the blog archives, search the blog from our sidebar, or use the labels below this post to find other recipes that might be of interest. Remember, treats (bought or homemade) are for spoiling your pup in moderation. We share ideas here from treats that we make ourselves for our pets, but different animals will have different preferences (likes/dislikes) and dietary needs. Some pets may have special dietary requirements and/or food allergies/intolerances. If you are ever in doubt or have questions about what's suitable for your pet, have a chat with your trusted vet.

Merry (almost) Christmas! This will be our final post before the holiday break. We'll be enjoying some offline family time over the holidays, although I will check in periodically on our emails and social media as time allows.  Happy holidays to  you and yours, and I hope that 2019 brings you health and happiness. See you all again in the new year! 

Dalmatian dog eating a snowman shaped dog treat

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