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 “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
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.
In the past few weeks I have had a handful of people ask me about making a grain free dog treat. In fact it seems like I’m encountering more and more dogs who are on a completely grain free diet. The recipe that I’m sharing today is perfectly tasty to make as-is, but it also makes a great baseline to add your own flavoring ingredients and creativity. For example it would be simple to add minced herbs or small diced veggies or to replace all or part of the broth with canned tuna water or freshly squeezed veggie juice.
It may confuse some of you that the main ingredient in a grain free recipe is buckwheat flour. Contrary to popular belief, buckwheat is NOT a type of wheat. As a matter of fact, buckwheat is not a grain or cereal of any kind. (So, yes, it is gluten free!) Buckwheat is actually a seed that is harvested from a flowering plant closely related to rhubarb. The pyramid-shaped buckwheat seeds, or “groats”, may be toasted and sold whole or may be ground into a rich, gray flour labeled as buckwheat or kasha flour. Buckwheat flour is now widely available at most grocery and health food stores, so you shouldn’t have any trouble finding it in your local baking aisle.
Basic Grain Free Dog Treats
Makes 60 (2-inch) treats
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 egg, beaten
1/2 cup chicken or beef broth
2 cups buckwheat flour
1. Preheat the oven to 400F.
2. Combine the olive oil, egg, and broth.
3. Slowly pour the buckwheat flour into the egg mixture, stirring constantly to incorporate.
4. Knead the mixture until it forms a smooth, homogenous dough, about 2 minutes.
5. Roll the dough out into a sheet about 1/4-inch thick. Cut the dough into pieces using your desired cookie cutter.
6. Arrange the treats on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
7. Bake for 6 minutes. Flip each of the treats over, then return to the oven and continue baking until the treats are firm to the touch, about 6 minutes more.
These treats are best stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
The dog treats that I typically share on this blog have a soft texture, because I think that more closely mimics the look of “people cookies” (plus, my dog Pacey likes soft treats best). But I realize that sometimes it’s good to switch things up, so this recipe yields super crunchy biscuits that have a texture similar to Milk Bones.
It contains only two ingredients, so this recipe literally couldn’t be any simpler! The most important step is to use high quality ingredients. It’s best if you can make your own beef broth, but a store-bought broth will also work well. If you choose to use store-bought broth, just be sure to choose one that is natural, low fat, and low sodium.
If the dough isn’t coming together easily, you can add more beef broth by the teaspoonful. Take care to add no more than just enough broth to bind the flour together, because adding too much moisture to the dough will affect the texture of the finished treats.
Crunchy Beef Biscuits
Makes about 7 dozen (1 1/2-inch) treats
2 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
2/3 cup beef broth
1. Preheat the oven to 300°F.
2. Stir the flour and beef broth together in a bowl. Knead by hand until the mixture forms a smooth dough.
3. Use a rolling pin to roll the dough out into a sheet about 1/4-inch thick. Use your desired cutter to cut the dough out into pieces.
4. Arrange the pieces on a baking sheet. The pieces can be placed close together, because the dough will not spread during baking.
5. Bake for 28 minutes. Flip the treats over, return to the oven, and continue baking for an additional 28 minutes.
6. Turn the oven off, crack the oven door, and leave the treats inside the oven to dry out for about 2 hours.
These treats should be stored in an airtight container at room temperature or in the refrigerator.
Beef is kind of a no-brainer when it comes to dog treat flavors, because dogs are naturally carnivores. I don’t know a single dog that doesn’t love the flavor of beef and digest it easily. (I guess maybe there’s one out there, but I certainly haven’t met him yet.) And making these treats in the shape of Italian biscotti puts a fun little twist on plain ol’ beef biscuits.
If you’ve got the time and inclination, you can make your own beef broth or beef stock for this recipe. If you do, just be sure to leave out any salt, onion, or garlic. However, most grocery stores now carry high-quality, natural beef broths that come in a can for convenience. When buying canned beef broth for use in dog treats, it’s always good to look for organic, low or no fat, and low sodium.
Gingered Beef Biscotti
Makes about 42 treats
2 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
2 tablespoons ground ginger
3/4 cup beef broth (homemade or fat free, low sodium)
1. Preheat the oven to 375°F.
2. In a bowl, combine the flour with the ground ginger. Add the egg and beef broth and mix well.
3. Knead the mixture by hand until a smooth, homogenous dough forms.
4. Divide the dough in half. Roll each half into a log about 1 1/2 to 2 inches wide.
5. Arrange the logs on a baking sheet, and bake until a toothpick inserted into the log comes out clean, about 35 minutes.
6. Remove the logs from the oven and reduce the oven temperature to 350°F.
7. As soon as the baked logs are cool enough to handle, use a serrated knife to cut each log into 1/2-inch slices.
8. Arrange the slices on a baking sheet, and return to the oven for 10 minutes.
9. Turn each slice over, and bake for an additional 10 minutes.
10. Turn the oven off, crack the door, and leave the biscotti slices in the oven to dry out for about 2 hours.
These treats may be stored in an airtight container at room temperature, but they’re best stored in the refrigerator.