Monday, 19 February 2018

{RECIPE} Doggone Delicious "Chocolate Lab" Dog Treats

A wee nibble of "Chocolate Lab" anyone???  I couldn't resist sharing these dog shaped treats as our first recipe post of the Year of the Dog Any roll-and cut recipe (ideally, smooth if you're going to make a design on the treats as shown) can be used with the techniques below to make dog shaped treats or human cookies, but I couldn't get chocolate labs out of my brain when I was walking home with my newly purchased "had to have it" cookie cutter. I'm sure I'll make some speckled Dalmatians in the future. Hehehe. Dalmatians aren't such a common high-demand breed but they share a very similar body type so Labrador Retriever will do just fine for my Dalis.  I paid waaaaay more for it than I should have (shhhh...don't tell hubby) but I also got the instant gratification of putting it straight to use with no wait for delivery (can be quite a wait down here!).  If you prowl online you can find tons of fun doggy shapes.

I've mentioned before that we often prep our recipes months ahead of the posting cycle, and so here is a photo that I shared of post-cataract surgery conhead Oli and his taste-testing side kick Humphrey that 
I shared on Facebook back in November enjoying the best doggone butt sniff ever! We'd never condone following up that butt sniff with a nibble on a real doggy, but these "Chocolate" Labs are fair game, in moderation.

{RECIPE} Doggone Delicious "Chocolate Lab" Treats for the Year of the Dog!

1 egg
1/2 cup baby food of a dog-safe flavour or equivalent substitute (single serving jar, measured to 1/2 cup)
1/4 cup low fat milk powder (optional)
2 tbsp ground flax (optional)
1/4 cup carob powder
Approximately 1 to 1 + 1/4 cups of brown rice flour or equivalent substitute

Preheat oven to 180C. Mix the egg, baby food (I used pumpkin and kumara), milk powder, flax, and carob powder. Incrementally add flour, mixing into a firm dough. The amount of flour required may vary depending on your individual baby food and any optional ingredients, so working the flour in incrementally is important. Missed the mark? No worries! You can add a little bit of water, a drizzle of olive oil, or additional flour to adjust consistency if needed.  Rest dough (optional, but recommended).  Roll on a floured surface and cut, then place on a prepared baking sheet.  Alternatively, the dough can simply be rolled into small balls and flattened gently if you want to skip the rolling/cutting. Bake for approximately 10-15 minutes. Cool before serving and storage.

The dog shaped treats were made using my Dalmatian/Labrador shaped cookie cutter.  The dough works well for holding form, but tight narrow shapes like tails and legs are always tricky so be patient and careful as you work.  Once the doggies are in position on the pan, you can add additional designs, if you wish.  I traced a curve for an ear and two lines for a collar using a knife, an indent for the nose using the blunt/big end of a stick, then added the curve of a mouth with the tip of a spoon.  Even if these were "Chocolate" Labs, I couldn't give up my Dali dots completely, so I added small dots to the collar using a toothpick.  The dogs are space hogs on the cookie sheet, so I also made a few bones and confetti bites (small circle plunger cutter) as in-fill.

Tips and Tricks:
  • If your chosen baby food is vegetarian, then so is this treat recipe; however, you can use any dog suitable baby food or equivalent substitute you'd like for your treats.  
  • Always check your ingredients to ensure the contents are dog-safe if using baby food. As liquid content will vary, you may need to adjust the flour quantity to get a nice workable consistency.
  • Adding milk powder adds extra richness as well as nutritional value, but I find it also enhances the consistency of low-fat gluten free doggy doughs for better handing 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.  
  • Resting dough is optional for most of our treats, but when working with gluten-free flours and low-fat doggy doughs I find even a brief rest ~30 minutes can help to ensure consistent hydration (absorbing liquid into dry ingredients) and improve general handling. I work with most doughs at room temperature since, unlike human cookies, there are no butters or other fats to chill for consistency.
  • Treats can be broken for smaller dogs, made bigger/smaller, or you can substitute simple balls for cut treats - 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 doggy treats don't use preservatives like commercial treats so they have a much shorter shelf life.  The dryer the treat (such ad dehydrating) the longer they will last, but I like to use fresh or freeze for longer storage.  Freezing is a great way to have a variety of treats on hand for mixing things up as well. Yummo! 

Hungry for more tasty treats?  See all of our recipes here. Remember, 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, have a chat with your vet. 

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