Grain Free Peanut Butter Cookies

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 Treats

Grain Free Peanut Butter Cookies

Makes about 26 (2-inch) treats

 

1/2 cup natural peanut butter

1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons water

1 egg

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.

Frozen Peanut Butter Treats

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

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.

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.

Peanut Butter Crisscross Cookies

With Mother’s Day just a few days away, I’ve been thinking about all of the wonderful memories that I have of baking with my mom when I was growing up. She is a very talented baker and was the one who inspired me to go to culinary school to study baking and pastry arts. When I was still too little to handle cracking eggs or measuring flour, I remember my mom letting me use a fork to make the crisscrosses on top of the peanut butter cookies. I was always so excited to be able to help, and it was so gratifying to make each crisscross look just so—an early sign of my tendency toward obsessive organization I guess.

These tasty dog treats look just like their human-cookie counterparts but are natural, gluten-free, and wheat-free. I made this recipe for Pacey today, and I have to admit that it was still a treat for me to get to make the crisscrosses.

Peanut Butter Crisscross Cookies

Makes about 30 cookies

 

1/2 cup natural, unsalted peanut butter

1/2 cup water

1 large egg

2 cups brown rice flour

 

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.

2. Place the peanut butter, water, and egg in a bowl and stir well to combine.

3. Add the flour in two additions, stirring well after each addition.

4. Use your hands to press the mixture together until it forms a smooth, homogenous dough.

5. Use a tablespoon to scoop the dough into portions. Roll each scoop into a ball, and arrange the balls of dough on an ungreased baking sheet.

6. Lightly press the tines of a fork on the top of each ball of dough, flattening the ball into a cookie shape and creating a pattern of parallel lines on top. Turn the fork 90 degrees, and press the tines into the dough once again to form a crisscross pattern on top of each cookie.

7. Bake until the edges are golden brown, about 21 minutes. When done baking, turn the oven off, leave the cookies inside the oven with the door cracked, and allow the cookies to dry out for about 2 hours.

 

These treats may be stored in an airtight container at room temperature.

Blondies

Blondies are bar cookies very similar to brownies, but they have a light brown color since they are prepared without any cocoa powder. Blondies are really quick and easy to prepare, so they are the perfect thing to whip up if you ever find yourself in need of treats in a hurry. Traditional people-food blondies are flavored with brown sugar and chocolate chunks, but my trusty taste-testers went crazy over this dog-friendly recipe that features carob chips and a touch of peanut butter.

These blondies are made with oats, so they are fairly crumbly. I’ve found that it’s best to cut them into the smallest pieces that you possibly can for your dog. I got 36 squares out of my 8″ x 8″ baking dish, and those pieces were still kind of big for a small dog like Pacey, so he made a bit of a mess when he was eating them. If you’ve got a tiny dog, you may even want to bake this recipe in a 9″ x 9″ pan so that the blondies are thinner and more manageable. (Just remember to adjust the baking time if you’re using a larger pan.)

 

Blondies

Makes about 36 squares

2 eggs

1/4 cup honey

1/4 cup all-natural peanut butter

1/4 cup vegetable oil

1/2 cup plain or vanilla non-fat yogurt

1 teaspoon baking powder

2 cups oat flour

1 cup carob chips

 

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.

2. Combine the eggs, honey, peanut butter, vegetable oil, and yogurt in a bowl.

3. In a separate bowl, combine the baking powder with the oat flour.

4. Add the dry ingredients to the peanut butter mixture, and stir to combine.

5. Stir in the carob chips until evenly dispersed.

6. Pour the batter into an 8-inch square baking dish that has been generously sprayed with cooking spray.

7. Bake until the top is golden brown and the sides start pulling away from the pan, about 30 minutes. Allow to cool completely.

8. Once cool, use a sharp knife to cut the blondies into individual portions.

 

These treats should be stored in the refrigerator.

Peanut Butter Jar Cookies

Finished JarYou’ve probably all seen this cute jar cookie idea used to make people cookies, but it also works nicely for these dog biscuits. It’s very simple to execute, and (if you’ve got the time and inclination) you can use your crafty-ness and creativity to make the packaging really special. This is a great homemade gift for dog-lovers. I’m planning to use it as a “thank you” gift when someone dog-sits for Pacey.

Since you aren’t always aware of the special dietary needs of your friends’ dogs, I made this recipe wheat-free and gluten-free, just in case. Most dogs love peanuts/peanut butter and can digest it well, so it is generally not a problem ingredient.

If you’re not in need of a gift for someone else at the moment, you could obviously forget the jar cookie idea all together and just make these cookies for your dog following the same recipe below.

Here are the craft supplies you’ll need:

1 large mason jar

1 scrap of pretty fabric

Ribbon (1/2-inch wide or thinner)

1 piece of paper to handwrite or print the recipe on

Hole-punch

Scissors (to use on both fabric and paper)

Here are the ingredients that you’ll need:

1 1/2 cups (gluten-free) oat flour

1/4 cup chopped peanuts

1 1/2 cups brown rice flour

1/2 cup all natural peanut butter chips

Here’s how you put it all together:

-Carefully pour each of the ingredients into the mason jar in the order they’re listed above. (The oat flour goes in first and so on.) Gently jiggle the jar after each addition to level off each ingredient and keep the presentation neat.

-Place the metal cap onto the top of the jar to seal it.

-Cut your desired fabric into a circle large enough to cover the top of the jar. Depending on the look that you want, you could use regular scissors or the pinking shears kind.

-Place your fabric circle on top of the metal cap on the jar. Place the metal ring (that is made to secure the lid on the jar) on top of the fabric circle. Twist the metal ring to close the jar as you normally would, trapping the fabric tightly between the two metal pieces of the lid.

-Print the recipe onto your desired paper. This is where you can get really creative if you want. You can simply print the recipe out onto white printer paper using your computer (like I did), or you could use colorful printer paper or pretty scrapbook paper. If you’re feeling really fancy, you can handwrite the recipe or even use calligraphy.

-Once you’ve got the recipe printed on the paper, use the hole-punch to put a round hole at the top of the recipe. Then use scissors (again, plain edge or decorative ones) to cut the recipe out. I just did a plain-Jane rectangle, but you could do a circle or whatever shape you like. As long as the recipe card fits neatly against the jar, it doesn’t really matter.

-Cut a length of ribbon long enough to tie in a bow around the lid of the jar.

-Thread the ribbon through the hole that you punched in the recipe card, and tie it into a bow around the metal rim of the jar’s lid. And . . . VOILÀ! You’ve got a personalized gift for your favorite dog-lover!

Below is the recipe as I printed it out for my recipe card. This one is formatted a little differently from the way I typically post my recipes–simply because I wanted it to fit neatly onto a small recipe card.

PB Jar Cookies

PEANUT BUTTER DOG COOKIES

MAKES ABOUT 50

 

Transfer the ingredients inside the jar to a mixing bowl, and stir to combine. Add 1 egg and 3/4 cup of water, and stir to combine. Use your hands to knead the mixture into a dough that will hold together.

 

Roll the dough into small balls about 1-inch in diameter, and arrange on an ungreased baking sheet. Use your hand to flatten each ball into a cookie shape.

 

Bake in a 350°F oven until the cookies are firm to the touch, about 20 minutes. Cool completely before serving to your four-legged friends.

 

Store in an airtight container at room temperature.

No-Bake Hidden Treasure Cookies

I got the idea for this recipe from a batch of “human cookies” that have a Hershey’s Kiss hidden in the center. I switched up the ingredients to make these cookies dog friendly, but they are still really tasty for humans too. The cookies are also very quick to prepare and travel really well on long walks or car trips.

If you want to be extra fancy, you can roll the treats in finely chopped peanuts (unsalted), shredded coconut, or carob powder before putting them in the refrigerator to set.

 Hidden Treasure Cookies

No-Bake Hidden Treasure Cookies

Makes about 45 treats

 

2/3 cup natural peanut butter, no salt added

2 tablespoons honey

3/4 cup oat bran

2 tablespoons wheat germ

Unsweetened carob chips, as needed (about 1/3 cup)

 

1. Place the peanut butter, honey, oat bran, and wheat germ in a bowl, and stir until well combined.

2. Take about 1 teaspoon of the mixture, and form it into a ball around 1 carob chip. Repeat until you’ve used all of the mixture.

3. Allow the cookies to set in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes before serving.

 

These treats should be stored in the refrigerator. They also freeze well—you can actually serve them right out of the freezer if your dog likes chilly treats.

My Furry Valentine

HAPPY VALENTINE’S DAY! This week I tweaked my standard Peanut Butter Dog Biscuits recipe (posted on 4/17/12) to make dog-themed “conversation heart” cookies to send as valentines to my four-legged friends.

I followed the posted recipe, cutting the cookies out with a 2 1/2-inch heart-shaped cookie cutter. To ensure that the cookies bake flat enough to neatly pipe the writing onto them, it’s essential to dock the dough by gently poking it a few times with the tines of a fork. This will help keep air bubbles from puffing up as the cookies bake. Using my cookie cutter, the recipe yielded about 45 cookies that needed to be baked for about 15 minutes at 350°F.

While the cookies are baking, prepare the icing that you’d like to use. I melted plain yogurt chips because the white color contrasted nicely with the color of the cookies and made the writing stand out. If you’d like, you could use melted carob chips or natural peanut butter chips instead. The method used to melt them is essentially the same.

Bring a small pot of water to a simmer over medium to medium-high heat. Place the yogurt 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 yogurt chips melts to prevent them from scorching. Be very careful, because if the yogurt gets overheated and scorches it becomes virtually inedible.

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 yogurt coating is completely melted.

Transfer the melted icing to a piping bag fitted with a small, round piping tip. Once the cookies are completely cool, pipe on Valentine’s Day sayings or whatever messages you like. Unless you make much larger cookies, the sayings will have to be very short. I picked cutesy ones like you might find on those conversation heart candies that we all love this time of year. Here are some of the sayings I used:

-U R Top Dog

-I Dig U

-My Pet

-I Woof U

-Paw Some

-Puppy Love

-Fur Fect

-Hot Dog!

Be sure to allow the coating enough time to set completely before wrapping these sweet treats up in a pretty package for your furry valentine.

Peanut Butter Dog Biscuits

These simple peanut butter biscuits are the first dog treat recipe that I ever developed, and they are still Pacey’s favorite. The preparation is very simple, and you probably already have all of the ingredients in your kitchen. I make these biscuits using a dog bone shaped cookie cutter about 1 inch by 2 inches, so remember that the yield and baking times will vary depending on the size of the cutter that you choose to use. If you’re cutting out more than one shape or size, be sure to bake each size on a separate baking sheet so that all the biscuits bake evenly. It’s okay to arrange these close together on the baking sheet, because they won’t spread very much in the oven. If the dough is rolled out thinly, the biscuits will stay fairly flat, but if you decide to make thicker biscuits, you may want to poke holes in the dough with a fork (a process called “docking”) to keep air bubbles from puffing up as the biscuits bake.

Peanut Butter Dog Biscuits

Makes about 50 biscuits

 

½ cup natural creamy peanut butter

1 cup water

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 ½ cups whole wheat flour, plus more for dusting

1 ½ cups all purpose flour

 

1. Preheat the oven to 350ºF.

2. Combine the peanut butter, water, and oil in a bowl.

3. Combine the flours. Add to the peanut butter mixture about 1 cup at a time, stirring and/or kneading to form a dough.

4. Lightly dust the countertop with whole wheat flour. Divide the dough in half, and roll the first half out into an even sheet about ¼ inch thick. Use a cookie cutter to cut out biscuits in your desired shape. Repeat with the remainder of the dough. If the dough is sticking, try dusting both sides with a little more flour.

5. Arrange the biscuits on an ungreased baking sheet, and bake until crispy to the touch, about 18 minutes. I also like to flip the treats over halfway through the baking time to help ensure even coloring.

6. Allow to cool completely before removing from the baking sheet.

NOTE:  If your doggie likes very crunchy treats, try leaving the baked biscuits in the oven (turned off) with the door cracked open for a few hours to overnight.