Monday, 17 December 2018

{RECIPE} Strawberry Carob Christmas Spice Dog Treats

In confession, I simply couldn't resist pulling out the plungers 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 my 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! 

Strawberry Carob Christmas Spice Dog Treats

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 rice flour

Preheat oven to 180C. 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). 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.

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!

Tips and Tricks: 
  • Strawberries can be fresh 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 as this is a low fat dough, 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.
  • The 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.
  • Any baked treat can be left in the cooling oven for a slightly crisper texture or, if you want to get things extra crunchy without overbaking/burning, you can place the baked treats in the dehydrator (fresh from the oven or later) and dry them out.  These will be a little less like a homebaked cookie and a bit more like a crunchy biscuit.  Totally optional, of course!
  • These treats can be frozen for longer storage. 

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. 

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! 

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