Right now we have an abundance of fresh, local strawberries here in Gettysburg, so for the past several weeks I have been thoroughly enjoying multiple batches of strawberry shortcake. Today I very generously decided to share some of the strawberries leftover from my shortcake-a-palooza with my dog Pacey, and the result was this recipe for berry bar cookies. If you don’t have fresh strawberries, you can substitute an equal amount of blueberries, blackberries, or raspberries, or use a combination of berries.
The preparation is simple, and the treats can easily be made from start to finish in less than 30 minutes. I cut the baked treats into 1-inch by 1-inch squares to suit my little dog, but you can cut the treats into pieces of any size and/or shape using a paring knife or a small cookie cutter. To keep the finished treats from crumbling too much, it’s best to cut them into pieces immediately after removing them from the oven. Just be sure to use an oven mitt or pot-holder and be extremely careful during this step, because the pan and the treats will be very hot.
Summer Berry Bars
Makes about 30 (1-inch by 1-inch) bars
1 1/2 cups whole ripe strawberries, stems and leaves removed
1/4 cup water
2 cups oat flour
1 cup white rice flour
1. Preheat the oven to 350F.
2. Place the strawberries and water in a bowl. Use a potato masher or the back of a fork to mash the berries into very small pieces (a.k.a. mush).
3. Stir the egg into the mashed berries.
4. In a separate bowl, combine the oat flour and rice flour.
5. Slowly stir the flours into the wet ingredients, and continue stirring until well-combined. (The finished dough will be slightly wet but should hold together well and press easily into the pan.)
6. Press the dough into an 8-inch by 8-inch pan lined with parchment paper, making sure that the sheet of dough is of an even thickness.
7. Bake until firm to the touch and baked through, 18 to 20 minutes.
8. Remove the pan from the oven, and use a sharp paring knife to cut the bars into pieces.
9. Allow the bars to cool completely before removing them from the pan and serving.
These treats should be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
This week I continued my foray into the wonderful world of grain free baking. Like wheat, many beans (like soy beans or chickpeas) and seeds (such as buckwheat, amaranth, and quinoa) can be ground into flours that are great for baking dog treats. Most of these grain-free flours are widely available in grocery stores, but you can also very easily create your own by grinding the whole beans or seeds into a powder using a grain mill, food processor, blender, or coffee grinder.
Peanut butter is one of my dog Pacey’s favorite flavors, and my Peanut Butter Cookies are unquestionably See Spot Bake’s bestseller at the farmers’ market. To create a grain free version of this favorite, I replaced the brown rice flour in my original recipe with buckwheat flour and adjusted the moisture content. I found that the buckwheat flour baked up denser than rice flour or wheat flour, so I recommend rolling this dough out as thinly as possible to keep the finished treats from being too heavy.
I used a store-bought buckwheat flour in this recipe simply because I already had it in my pantry. To make your own buckwheat flour, you would buy “buckwheat groats” (they may also be labeled “raw” or “hulled”) and grind them into a powder using any of the appliances that I mentioned above.
Grain Free Peanut Butter Cookies
Makes about 26 (2-inch) treats
1/2 cup natural peanut butter
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons water
2 cups buckwheat flour
1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
2. Place the peanut butter, water, and egg a bowl, and stir to combine.
3. Add the flour in two additions, mixing well after each addition. Continue stirring until the mixture forms a smooth, homogenous dough. Use your hands to knead and press the dough together into a ball.
4. Roll the dough out into a sheet about 1/4-inch thick. (You do not need to dust the countertop with flour.) Use your desired cookie cutter to cut the dough into pieces.
5. Arrange the cookies on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
6. Bake until the cookies are firm and golden brown, about 15 minutes. If desired, flip the treats over halfway through the baking time to ensure even browning.
These treats are best stored in an airtight container inside the refrigerator.
As the dog days of summer start heating up, it’s important to remember that your pooch is probably feeling just as hot and uncomfortable as you are! As always, you want to be sure to keep your dog’s bowl filled with clean, cool water, but from time to time it’s also nice to pamper him/her with a frosty treat. This quick and easy recipe for frozen peanut-flavored treats is a great way to help cool your hot dog down at the beach, by the pool, or after a good romp in the backyard.
Most dogs will really appreciate the novelty of a frozen treat, but as the treat starts to melt it can get pretty messy. A lot of dogs will want to play with the slippery treat like a toy—flinging, pushing, and chasing it all over the place before actually eating it. Therefore, it is best to serve these treats outdoors (or on an indoor surface that you don’t mind having to clean up).
Frozen Peanut Butter Treats
Makes about 10 small treats
1/4 cup natural peanut butter (creamy or crunchy)
1/4 cup natural, unsweetened applesauce
Carob chips, as desired
1. Use a rubber spatula to stir the peanut butter together with the applesauce until the ingredients are well combined into a smooth, homogenous mixture.
2. Pour the mixture into the cavities of an ice cube tray or mini muffin tin.
3. Gently press 2 or 3 carob chips into the top of each treat.
4. Place in the freezer until firm, at least 2 hours.