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.

Dog Walk Energy Bites

Yet another perk of Autumn is that it brings perfect weather for dog walking (at least here in the Mid-Atlantic states). When you’re out on a nice long walk or hike it’s always good to have a few small treats in your pocket, especially if you’re still training your dog to walk properly on a leash. These little no-bake treats are great for throwing into a zip-lock bag and taking with you on your outdoor adventures. The recipe is very simple. Just remember to allow yourself enough time for the treats to firm up in the refrigerator before you head out the door.

When my dog Pacey is on a walk, he is on a mission: he doesn’t want to stop to smell the roses, he doesn’t want to be petted, and he will not take a treat. Therefore, I wasn’t able to actually get these treats genuinely taste-tested on a long walk. But my slightly overweight chihuahua really enjoyed them while hanging out on the couch at home.

Energy Bites

Dog Walk Energy Bites

Makes about 16 treats

 

1/3 cup unsweetened shredded coconut

1/3 cup natural peanut butter chips

1/3 cup rolled oats

1/3 cup wheat germ

1/3 cup honey

1 tablespoon molasses

 

1. Place the coconut, peanut butter chips, oats, and wheat germ in a bowl, and stir to combine.

2. Add the honey and molasses to the dry ingredients, stirring well until all the the dry ingredients are well-coated with the honey.

3. Use a tablespoon to take a scoop of the mixture. Use your hands to squeeze and roll the mixture into a ball. (The mixture will be very wet and sticky, so this part can be a bit messy.)

4. Arrange the treats on a tray or large plate and put them in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes to firm up. The treats should then be stored in the refrigerator.

 

NOTE: A tablespoon is a good-sized scoop for most dogs. If you’ve got a little dog, you may want to make the balls slightly smaller. Try using a 1/2 tablespoon or (for really small pups) a teaspoon. This recipe makes about 48 teaspoon-sized treats.

Orange-Coconut Biscotti

Pacey living on the edge by stealing a piece of biscotti while I tried to take a photo!

Pacey living on the edge by stealing a piece of biscotti while I was setting up to take a photo!

These kooky little cookies would be fun any time of year, but using pretty pastel colors makes them a very sweet Easter treat. When dyed green, the shredded coconut kind of resembles the grass-like filling that often adorns Easter baskets–but you could choose another color food coloring if you like or just leave the coconut white if you’re in a hurry.

I honestly wasn’t sure if coconut was safe for dogs, so I looked it up. When I did, I learned not only that coconut is wholesome, but that some people are actually calling it a doggie “super food.” It contains a protein called albumin that aids the formation of red blood cells, and coconut is also naturally rich in lauric acid, a fatty acid that helps boost dogs’ immune systems and fight off infections.

The other flavoring ingredient in these treats is orange zest. The flesh of an orange is definitely safe for dogs, but you typically want to avoid giving them the orange seeds and/or peel; however, the small amount of finely grated peel in this recipe is added only for flavoring and is not nearly enough to have any effect. If you’re really concerned, just add a couple tablespoons of freshly squeezed orange juice in place of the zest.

MESS WARNING: These treats are super messy, especially for little dogs that are going to have to take some time to chomp through the whole thing. If your dog is a particularly messy eater, you may want to give these treats outside or make sure that the dog stays in a spot inside the house that’s easy to clean up. If you’ve dyed the coconut and/or used colored icing, be very careful that your dog doesn’t lick away at one of these treats on carpet or furniture, because there’s a chance it’ll leave a stain.

Orange-Coconut Biscotti

Makes about 16

 

About 2 cups unsweetened shredded coconut

Gel food coloring, as needed

1/4 cup water

1/4 cup vegetable oil

3 tablespoons honey

2 eggs

1 tablespoon finely grated orange peel

2 1/2 cups whole wheat flour

1 1/2 cups yogurt chips, white chocolate, carob chips, or candy coating, or as needed

 

1. Preheat the oven to 375°F.

2. Place the coconut in a large Ziploc bag. Add several drops of food coloring, and seal the bag. Shake and knead the bag to evenly color the coconut. Add more food coloring as needed to achieve the color that you want. Reserve at room temperature until needed.

3. Combine the water, oil, honey, eggs, and orange peel in a bowl.

4. Add the flour to the wet ingredients and stir to combine. Knead the mixture by hand until it forms a smooth dough.

5. Divide the dough in half. Roll each half of dough into a log about 8 inches long. Arrange the two logs of dough on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. (They should both fit on a standard baking sheet, but if you find that your baking sheet is too small, simply use two separate baking sheets. It’s not a problem to bake them both in the oven at the same time.)

6. Gently press down on the top of each of the logs to slightly flatten it against the baking sheet.

7. Bake until the logs feel firm to the touch and a toothpick inserted into the log comes out clean, about 30 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 350°F.

8. When the logs are cool enough to handle, cut each one into 1-inch slices.

9. Arrange the slices on baking sheets lined with parchment paper, and return to the oven for 8 minutes.

10. Turn each of the slices over, and return to the oven for 8 minutes more.

11. After baking, turn the oven off, crack the oven door, and leave the biscotti in the oven for about 1 hour to harden.

12. Once the biscotti have hardened, prepare the icing that you’d like to use. (I melted candy coating, because I wanted the cookies to be bright and colorful for Easter.) Bring a small pot of water to a simmer over medium to medium-high heat. Place the chips in a glass or metal bowl just large enough to fit on top of the pot of simmering water. Place the bowl on top of the pot. Be sure to stir frequently with a rubber spatula as the chips melts to prevent them from scorching. The water should stay at a simmer. If it begins to boil enough to actually touch the bottom of the bowl, remove the bowl from the pot and turn down the heat to establish a simmer before replacing the bowl. Be sure to remove the bowl from the heat as soon as the coating is completely melted.

13. Dip the bottom half of a biscotti in the melted icing to coat it. Work carefully, allowing any excess icing to drip back into the bowl. Immediately dip the iced biscotti in the shredded coconut to coat. Place the biscotti on a piece of wax or parchment paper to set. Repeat with the remaining slices of biscotti.

 

These treats should be stored in the refrigerator.