Thursday, 7 December 2017

{RECIPE} Peanut Butter and Molasses Christmas Dog Treats


It's beginning to smell a lot like Christmas, and these treats smell almost good enough to temp a few human taste-testers. A little splash of blackstrap molasses and sprinkle of spice jazzes up our smooth roll-and-cut peanut butter recipe with a gingerbread-inspired holiday boost of scent and flavour. That dough works so well for simulating a cookie-dough texture that I wanted to play with it for my new Christmas plunger-cutters (I couldn't resist buying them...) and it worked very nicely! Since we were making gingerbread treats, I used only the gingerbread person plunger from the set and creating some matching gingerbread houses.  Here's how they were made. 


Peanut Butter and Molasses Christmas Dog Treats 

1 egg
1/4 cup smooth peanut butter
1 tbsp blackstrap molasses
A sprinkle of Ceylon cinnamon and/or ginger (optional)
1/4 cup room temperature water
Approximately 1 cup rice flour (or equivalent substitute flour) plus additional flour for rolling

Preheat over to 180C.  Combine peanut butter, egg, molasses, spices, and water in a mixing bowl.  Incrementally add flour, mixing into a cohesive workable dough.  The amount of flour required will vary depending on your individual ingredients and any optional add-ins or substitutions. 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. Rest dough (optional). Roll, cut into desired shapes, and place on a prepared baking pan. Bake for approximately 10-15 minutes. 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, but this peanut butter base is easy to work with and has just enough oiliness from the peanut butter for me to use it easily with my plungers.  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 (first image above) 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.  I took a chance since there is egg in this dough, but it worked for me in this and a similar carob variation. I also bake short/light and then dehydrate.  There might be some luck at play as well, but no worries either way - the dog's don't mind if their treats look less than perfect!

To create gingerbread dog houses, I started with my house shaped cookie cutter, like in our Banana Apple Cinnamon Dog House Cookies.  I used a bone shaped cutter for the doorway (and cheated a little by lining up my houses bottom to bottom for easy impressions).  I cut the chimneys from the houses, because doghouses don't have chimneys (hehe) but also because they're a fiddly little bit that's likely to bake faster than the body of the treat and/or break off easily after I dehydrate my treats for crunchy crispness.  I also raced a line in from the edge of the roof to mimic the outline of the gingerbread men's plunger pattern so the treats had a similar style.


Tips and Tricks:
  • Peanut butter and molasses can be particularly tricky ingredients to measure perfectly. Don't stress about it - close enough is good enough! There can be big differences in consistency of peanut butters as well. Little variations like that as well as variations in egg size, temperatures, etc are all  part of why we work incrementally when mixing our doggy doughs. 
  • Go natural or take care when when shopping to avoid artificial sweeteners in ingredients peanut butter when used for your dogs - xylitol is particularly dangerous for dogs.
  • 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. 
  • 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.
  • Resting and/or chilling the dough before rolling and/or after cutting your shapes on the pan before baking is optional as this is a low fat dough, but it can help with handling and/or holding shape, just like human cookies.
  • 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!

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.

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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