Embossed Dog Cookies

I typically try to avoid posting any recipes that require special equipment. HOWEVER, I got an awesome embossing rolling pin this week, and the dog treats that I made using it were so pretty that I just couldn’t resist sharing the recipe with you.

You can find embossing rolling pins at specialty kitchen stores, like Sur La Table or Williams-Sonoma, or online at Amazon.com or baking supply sites. But, believe it or not, an excellent place to look for embossing rolling pins is at yard sales. Yard sales (and rummage sales, flea markets, etc) often have beautiful antique rolling pins hiding amongst bins of used kitchen stuff for DIRT CHEAP. You can find some real treasures this way–as long as you don’t mind having to hunt around.

My new "dog paw" rolling pin from Humble Elephant.

My new “paw print” rolling pin from Humble Elephant.

This time I ordered my embossing rolling pin from a shop on Etsy called Humble Elephant. They offer lots of really fun, laser cut rolling pins, and they’ll even create custom designs for you. Be sure to check out Humble Elephant’s shop at www.etsy.com/shop/HumbleElephant.

Embossed cookies are deceptively impressive, because the technique actually requires very little work or skill to get a dazzling result. Once you have rolled your dough out into a thin sheet using a standard rolling pin, you simply roll the embossing rolling pin over the dough to transfer the design. You should only roll the embossing rolling pin over the dough once, because rolling back over the dough may blur or distort the design. To ensure that the design comes out perfectly on your first roll just be sure to press down very firmly with even pressure as you roll the pin.

The real key to beautifully embossed cookies is using the right dough. It’s essential that the dough be soft and not stretchy. (For human cookies, shortbread or sugar cookies work well.) When testing this recipe, it took me a couple of tries to figure out the blend of flours that would allow the embossed design to look the best on the baked dog treats. I ended up with a blend of white rice flour and oat flour. This gluten-free dough is on the delicate side, but it is still easy to work with. It rolls out nicely and cuts out easily, but you may want to use an offset spatula to help you move the cut-outs of dough to the baking sheet without distorting the shape or the embossed design.

Embossed Dog Cookies

Embossed Dog Cookies

Makes about 2 dozen (2 ½ inch) cookies

 

3/4 cup white rice flour, plus more for dusting

1 1/2 cups oat flour

3/4 cup broth (beef, chicken, fish, vegetable, your choice) or water

 

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.

2. Combine the flours in a bowl.

3. Add the broth or water, and stir to combine well. Press the mixture together with your hands to form a smooth, homogenous dough.

4. On a countertop dusted well with white rice flour, roll the dough out into a sheet about 1/2 inch thick using a standard rolling pin. Next, roll your embossing rolling pin over the dough once. Be sure to press as firmly as possible to ensure that the design shows up clearly on the dough.

5. Use your desired cookie cutter to cut the dough into pieces. Arrange the pieces on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. (This dough is fairly soft, so you may want to use an offset metal spatula to help transfer the cookies to the baking sheet.)

6. Bake for 13 minutes. Remove the baking sheet from the oven, flip each of the cookies over, and then return them to the oven for an additional 6 to 7 minutes. The cookies should be firmly set and lightly browned. Allow the cookies to cool completely before removing them from the baking sheet.

 

These treats should be stored in an airtight container inside the refrigerator.

 

 

DIY Puppy Pop Art

I dragged my mom along on my odyssey into collage art. These are the works of art that she created using photos of her three dogs.

I dragged my mom along on this odyssey into crafting. Here are the collages that she created using photos of her three dogs.

This week I got my creative juices flowing and made a paper collage project using a photo of my dog Pacey. I got the idea for the pop art style collage from Trudy K Taylor’s tutorial “How to make a pet collage with your children.” (Click here to visit her blog: http://trudyktaylor.com/making-mondays-make-a-pet-collage-with-children-your-children/). My plan was to create three different paper collages of Pacey’s face and then frame them together à la Andy Warhol’s pop art prints.

A version of artist Andy Warhol's famous "Marilyn Diptych"

A version of artist Andy Warhol’s famous “Marilyn Diptych”

Making these collages is simple and fun, and I love the fact that as you cover your dog’s photo with decorative paper, the eyes and nose remain exposed so that the finished product still really looks like your dog.

This project is also very inexpensive. I didn’t need to buy any supplies at all, because I just dug into my stash of scrapbook paper. Depending on what you have around the house, you could also use wrapping paper, wallpaper, construction paper, newspaper, fabric, felt, stickers, buttons, beads, or pretty much anything else that you can easily glue down.

In addition to whatever collage materials that you choose to use, you’ll need a pair of scissors, glue or glue stick, and two print-outs (or copies) of a photo of your dog. I scanned a photo of my dog Pacey into my computer and adjusted it to my desired size using Photoshop. I then printed it out on basic, white printer paper. Alternatively, you could make copies and adjust the photo’s sizing using an office printer.

I used a photo of Pacey’s face with him looking fully toward the camera, which I think worked really well. But you could use your dog’s profile, their face and chest, or even a full body shot. Whatever sparks your creativity.

To get started you'll need two printed copies of a photo of your dog, a pair of scissors, and glue.

Once you’ve got the two printed photos, you’re ready to get to work. Use the scissors to cut your dog’s face out of each of the two papers. You will use one of the faces as a template, so glue it onto whatever piece of paper that you want to be the background of your collage. I used a piece of construction paper.

First, cut out one of the photos and glue it onto the decorative paper that is going to be the background of your collage.

Next you’re going to use the second face that you cut out to create a stencil that will make it easier to piece together the decorative materials that you’re going to use to make your collage. Use the scissors to cut the face into pieces; I recommend that you cut it into at least four or five pieces (to allow you to use a wide enough variety of patterns and colors), but the pieces can be any size and shape that you like. The most important thing is to make sure that you CUT THE EYES AND NOSE OUT of your stencil pieces so that your dog’s actual eyes and nose (from the photo that you glued to the background) will show through on your finished collage. This is a really nice touch that keeps your pet’s face recognizable in your finished work of art.StencilOnce your stencil is cut out, you’re ready to have some fun and let your creative juices flow. Choose a decorative paper, trace around your chosen stencil piece, and cut it out using scissors. Then glue the piece down in the correct position on your photo template. Repeat this process until you’ve covered the entire face template with materials in different patterns and colors. You can also use paper (or stickers, buttons, etc.) to add extra touches like a hat, necklace, collar, bow tie, or glasses.

Before and After

There are lots of things that you can do with your finished collages. I scanned my collages into my computer, printed them out on 6″ x 4″ photo paper, and put them in a store-bought frame. If you don’t want to go to the trouble of scanning and printing, you could simply frame each individual collage as-is. I’ve also considered having the scanned photos of my collages printed on note cards or onto a calendar. Whichever way that you choose to finish your project, these collages make a unique and meaningful gift for any dog owner.

Finished Pacey Collages

Grain Free Coconut Macaroons

Coconut flour behaves differently than any other grain-free flour, so baking with it can be somewhat daunting. Despite the unique challenges that it presents to baking, coconut flour makes an excellent addition to your pet’s diet. It contains a significant amount of fiber, protein, and lauric acid, a healthy fat that is great for the immune system as well as skin and coat health.

Coconut flour is actually a powder made by grinding defatted, dehydrated coconut meat. Since coconut is ultra absorbent, recipes using coconut flour require at least an equal amount of liquid. Due to this unusual texture and absorbency, coconut flour is typically not used for more than 20% of the total weight of flour in a recipe. However, the following recipe calls for 100% coconut flour. Even though this recipe contains plenty of water and an egg to help bind it, the dough has a loose, sandy texture and must be pressed firmly together in order to be able to scoop it into cookies. In spite of that, the baked cookies hold together quite well. And the super soft texture makes them ideal for older dogs or any dog with dental issues.

I got the #30 cookie scoop that I used to make this recipe at Sur La Table.

I got the #30 cookie scoop that I used to make this recipe at Sur La Table.

This recipe is best prepared with a cookie scoop, also known as a disher or spring-loaded ice cream scoop. These spring-loaded, stainless steel scoops can be found in a wide range of sizes at most kitchen stores. (I bought mine at Sur La Table. http://www.surlatable.com/product/PRO-698407/Stainless-Steel+Ice+Cream+Scoop) These scoops are numbered according to their size using an industry-wide system; a #100 is the smallest at 3/4 tablespoon or 3/8 fl oz, while a #4 is the largest (that I’ve seen) at 1 cup or 8 fl oz. To make these macaroons, I used a #30 scoop that holds about 2 1/2 tablespoons or 1.25 fl oz and has a diameter of about 2 inches. You can use any small-ish size scoop that you’d like to make this recipe, but the spring action is really necessary to get the soft dough to come out cleanly in the nice, round scoops that make these dog treats look like the people-food macaroons that we all know and love.

 Coconut Macaroons

Coconut Macaroons

Makes about 3 dozen (2-inch) dog treats

 

1 3/4 cups coconut flour

1/2 cup shredded unsweetened coconut

1/4 cup honey

1 egg

2 1/2 cups water

 

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.

2. Combine the flour and shredded coconut in a bowl.

3. Add the honey, egg, and water, and stir well to combine.

4. Use your hands or the back of your spoon to press the dough down and pack it tightly into the bowl. Using a small cookie scoop, scoop the dough onto a non-stick baking sheet. Pack the dough down into the bowl as often as needed to be able to continue scooping it easily.

5. Bake until dry and firm to the touch, about 20 minutes.

6. Turn the oven off, crack the oven door, and allow the treats to cool inside the oven for about 1 hour.

 

These treats should be stored in an airtight container inside the refrigerator.