Tuesday, 19 December 2017

{RECIPE} Marbled Strawberry and Mint Christmas Dog Treats

These Christmas dog treats are marbled with festive colours and delicious flavours.  Yummy!  I've included the recipe mix used to make these treats in the post below, but you can also adapt your favourite neutral coloured dog-friendly roll-and-cut treat dough (see the tips at the end of the post) to create a similar Christmas marbling effect.

{RECIPE} Marbled Strawberry and Mint Christmas Dog Treats

1/2 cup unsweeted apple sauce or dog-safe fruity flavoured baby food
1/4 cup smooth peanut butter
1/4 cup low fat milk powder (see tips and tricks at the end of the post)
1 egg
Approximately 1+1/4 cup and 1/4 cup rice flour (Note: divided for second mixing of additional flour and fruit)
A few springs of finely chopped fresh mint or a sprinkle of dried mint (optional)
1/4 cup of pureed strawberry
Food colouring (red, green) or alternative dog-safe natural tints

Preparing the dough: Preheat oven to 180C. Mix the applesauce/baby food, peanut butter, egg, and milk powder. Incrementally add the additional flour, mixing into a firm dough.  The amount of flour required will vary depending on your individual ingredients and any optional add-ins or substitutions. Working in the additional flour incrementally until you get a nice cohesive dough is important. Missed the mark? No worries! You can add a little bit of water, a small amount of olive oil, or additional flour to adjust consistency if/as needed.  Keeping dough a touch on the wet/sticky side (not too much or it will be hard to roll and cut) helps pieces stick and join well when combined. 

Creating the tints: Divide roughly into quarters. Then take of of the quarters and split it in half, add half to two of the remaining quarters.  The remaining small portion of dough is used to make the strawberry dough, which requires added berries and flour that make up additional volume.
  • Beige/Neutral dough: Base dough as mixed
  • Green/Mint dough: Addition of chopped fresh mint or a sprinkle of dried (optional), plus food colouring or natural tint.  I used fresh mint from the garden and green food colouring for the dough shown. 
  • Red/Strawberry dough: Addition of pureed strawberry and additional flour to restore consistency, plus food colouring or natural tint to boost the natural pink of the berry dough. I used frozen berries and beetroot powder for the dough shown. Flour quantity will vary depending on your berries, especially if using fresh vs. frozen, but my experience has been roughly one-to-one.  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 or a very small amount of olive oil to adjust.

It is easier to evenly mix coloured add-ins by mixing them with with the liquids before adding the flour; however, this requires either a big batch of treats (three separate doughs) or splitting the wets and dividing the flour.  I often do the latter, but since it requires a calibrated eyeball :) I decided it might be confusing to share the recipe instructions that way.  Besides, we are marbling the dough so perfectly even colour isn't an issue here. Yay! 

Splitting the wets requires you to be able to judge the split and allocate flour proportionally, but it's easy to do if you're a confident baker.  Feel free to give it a try!  Split, mix through your add-ins, and then mix in flour incrementally until you have a nice cohesive workable dough.  Tip: When splitting small quantity wet ingredients, I find that it can sometimes be helpful to part mix the dough first (add some but not all flour - creating a cake-batter like consistency) to make it a little easier to divide the mix into roughly equal portions.  

Marbling and baking: Separate the doughs into small pieces. Ensure a good distribution for variety and don't make the pieces too tiny, else your marbling will be muddy when rolled. Gather the pieces together and squeeze into a loose ball. You can split and keep some of your starting dough aside to add back in on a later re-roll to extend the marble-life. Since repeat reforming and rolling will muddy the marbling, cut your larger shapes first and the smaller-pieces from the gaps and any re-rolled dough. On a lightly floured surface, roll your dough and cut into shapes. . Place on a prepared cookie tray and lightly brush the surface with a pastry brush or damp clean cloth to remove excess flour if/as needed. Bake for approximately 10-12 minutes depending on size and thickness. Cool before serving and storage.

Tips and Tricks: 
  • Always check your ingredients to ensure the contents are dog-safe if using baby food. 
  • Go natural or take care when shopping to avoid artificial sweeteners in ingredients like peanut butter for your dogs – xylitol (also identified as sweetener E967) is particularly dangerous for dogs.
  • Adding milk powder adds extra richness as well as nutritional value, but I find it also enhances workability and creates a slightly firmer/crisper baked result. Our local grocery store sells powered milk as well as powdered goats milk and powdered coconut milk, which can be used as alternatives to dairy milk, or you can omit the powder from your dough all together.  
  • The treats can be broken for smaller dogs, or made bigger/smaller - just keep an eye on your cooking time - the smaller and/or thinner 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
  • These treats can be frozen for longer storage. 

If you're using a different base recipe to create your marbled treats:
  • Any suitable roll-and-cut dough will do, but smooth doughs without any rough or chunky ingredients will work best.  For tinting, a pale neutral dough is the best option.
  • If you're using natural add-ins to create or augment the colours, it is best to pick a compatibly flavoured treat dough recipe. 
  • Marbled doughs can be created from splitting one dough into different tints/mixes or by combining different doughs.  If combining different doughs, make sure that they have a similar consistency and baking requirements for best results. See the notes with recipe above for tips about splitting doughs for marbling.

    Hungry for more tasty treats?  See all of our recipes hereRemember, treats are for spoiling your pup in moderation. Some dogs have special dietary requirements and/or food allergies/intolerances. If you are ever in doubt or have questions about your dog's diet and health, have a chat with your vet.

    We have a Christmas post for you every weekday between now and the start of our offline holidays, with toys, decorations, treats, and more!  Stay tuned for holiday fun, and we'll see you again tomorrow!

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