Monday, 21 January 2019

{RECIPE} Naturally Pink Strawberry Cheesecake Dog Treats

We're back from our holiday blogging break and hopping straight into the goodies with our Valentine's Day post line up, and it's a berry-based treat for my berry-loving boys. May we all be as lucky to find a Valentine who looks at us with as much love and desire as Oli eyeing up a strawberry (or strawberry treat)! Haha! Look at this face:

Strawberries are in season here in our New Zealand summer, but defrosted from frozen is a-ok. Unless I have a surplus of fresh, I generally prefer to use frozen berries in my baking and eat the fresh ones raw...that is if my black-and-white berry seeking hunters haven'ts sniffed them out and self-harvested all the ripe berries from our garden before I can pick them! Cheeky rascals.

Gelatin is an add-in that I first started experimenting with in my baked dog treats around a year or so ago, and if it's been a while since my last gelatin baking I'm always pleasantly surprised when I use it again. I love giving my dogs gelatin in gummies or as a sprinkled supplement on food, but it's also a handy add-in to improve the consistency of low-fat gluten free doggy doughs which can be soft and tricky to work with in roll-and-cut treats. Gelatin is an awesome binding add-in, and makes the dough feel thicker, firmer/stiffer, and sort of fudgey, like a cross between cookie dough and fondant.  

Naturally Pink Strawberry Cheesecake Valentine's Day Dog Treats

Tip: Berries are a highly variable ingredient. Depending on your specific berries as well as the consistency of your cream cheese and the optional add-ins, you might need to use less/more flour or add a little water to get a nice dough consistency, so working incrementally when adding your flour is important.  Making these strawberry treats requires significantly less flour than the extra-juicy blackberry version.

1/2 cup strawberries, finely pureed
1/4 cup cream cheese, well-softened
1 egg
1 tbsp ground flax (optional)
1 tbsp gelatin (optional)
1/2 tsp beetroot powder (optional for added colour, and you can use more/less to suit pinkness preferences)
Approximately 1 cup rice flour (see tip above) plus extra for rolling

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 with your specific ingredients and optional add-ins (especially in this recipe), 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 or olive oil to adjust.  Rest dough (optional but recommended) and then knead lightly before rolling. On a lightly floured surface, roll and then cut into desired shapes or simply roll into bite-sized balls and flatten gently with a fork. Bake for approximately 10-12 minutes depending on size. Cool before serving and storage.

Tips and Tricks: 
  • No strawberries? No problem! Swap another dog-friendly fruit or veggie and adjust the flour quantity if needed for consistency.
  • I love giving my dogs gelatin in gummies or as a sprinkled supplement on food, but have discovered that it's also a handy add-in to improve the consistency of low-fat gluten free doggy doughs which can be soft and tricky to work with in roll-and-cut treats. Gelatin is an awesome binding add-in which helps enhance dough consistency for cutting and handling, and it's healthy too! I don't bloom it first like I would if making gummies, I just mix it right in with the other ingredients. Easy peasy!
  • 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. In this case, it also gives the gelatin and flax time to work their magic.
  • 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 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. 

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