Sunday, October 30, 2016

About the Recipe: Pumpkin Spice Dog Biscuits

Okay, so we’re very Halloween adjacent; and I have a Jack-O-Lantern cookie cutter and some leftover pumpkin from a pumpkin-yeast bread I made for work last week. Again, it called for only 1 cup of pumpkin puree; so I had yet another partial can left. But it’s whatever…I’ve been itching to make another pumpkin treat anyway.

These treats were fun to make not only because of all the fun possibilities in choosing a cookie cutter, but also because they made my house smell like fall—and I needed that because it’s been so warm. Seriously, it’s supposed to be 80 degrees on Halloween…it feels odd to still be this warm. Also, despite the truckload of leaves our giant oak tree has dumped on our yard, I can’t get into the fall mood until I’m fully immersed in flannel and can wear a cardigan at least 6 days out of 7.

If you don’t know and you didn’t read my last treat recipe post, pumpkin is safe and somewhat good for your dogs…the somewhat has to be said as you need to be sure to monitor your dog’s pumpkin consumption as too much can cause digestive issues. However, moderate amounts like what’s called for in these treats shouldn’t hurt anything. The pumpkin will be a low-calorie, healthy source of fiber and beta-carotene that’s somewhat sweet to a k9’s pallet.

This recipe not only calls for pumpkin puree but also for pepitas which are shelled, pumpkin seeds. My local health food store sells these roasted and unsalted in their bulk section making them an easy and inexpensive choice for me to add a bit of texture to these dog treats. Plus, they add a crunch like a nut without being a nut since most nuts aren’t great for dogs; so if you don’t want to find or use pepitas, I say just omit them altogether. They’re not a reactive ingredient and won’t really affect how your treats turn out other than without the pepitas yours will be way more boring.

Now, one ingredient I’ve used this time around that I haven’t in a few treat recipes is ground flaxseeds. Flaxseeds are rich in Omega-3 fatty acids, are hearth healthy, and contain both soluble and insoluble types of fiber. They also have a slight nutty taste to increase the complexity of the flavors in the treats. In the dough, the flaxseeds are the darker brown flecks that make these treats look even healthier.

On another note, flaxseeds can be moistened and used in place of an egg should you wish to convert a
recipe into a vegan alternative. I added them just after the eggs, oil and pumpkin somewhat for this reason—truly, with this recipe, the order of ingredients doesn’t really matter so long as you mix everything well; but it won’t hurt anything to let the mixture sit for a few minutes after you add it as directed.

If flaxseeds aren’t a part of your pantry, substitute rolled oats or ground (cha-cha) chia seeds. As I’ve mentioned in the past (several times), I like the look of oats in dog treats; and in fact, I purposefully omitted them this time because I felt the need to vary my methods a bit. Plus, I still have ground flaxseeds in my freezer—and my dogs seem to like them just as well as oats; and I’ve substituted oats before prior to purchasing flaxseeds.

My huge container of coconut oil that I’ve been using to mix in with my dog’s dry dog food is only about halfway empty, so I’m still turning to it when I make my treats. However, if you’re fresh out or don’t want to buy any, olive oil is a fine substitution as it’s a somewhat healthy fat; but stay away from butter or margarine, of course, if you’re also out of olive oil.

If you need another alternative, mix additional ground flaxseeds with water at a ratio of 1 part ground flaxseeds to 2 parts water (for ¼ cup measure of water, you’ll want to add 2 tablespoons of ground flaxseeds) then let the mixture sit for 5 minutes or more. It’ll get kinda slimy…but should do the trick. Or you can just use ¼ cup applesauce as I’ve talked about substituting applesauce for fat several times before. Applesauce was also omitted from this recipe for the same reason as the oats; but it would be perfectly fine if you find yourself in a pinch. 

As a novelty and not a necessity, dog treat baking should be fun and as stress free as possible; so, please, don’t feel the need to take this activity as seriously as I do. Just know, that I take it seriously enough for everyone. Also, some of these ingredients can get expensive especially if you’re just starting out or if you don’t eat these items in your regular diets and have to purchase them especially for treat making…If you want to make the investment or are intrigued by some of these ingredients but didn’t know how to use them before, that’s wonderful and I hope these treats can translate into something else for you… Rob just rolls his eyes at me for buying all this stuff, and so can you.

But I digress…

Now let’s talk spice. With the exception of the cloves, all of the spices selected were selected because they’re what’s in that little container of pumpkin spice you can buy to make into a pie or cake or latte; however, pre-mixed pumpkin spice contains nutmeg which isn’t all that dog friendly… now, I can’t quote why nutmeg isn’t doggy friendly nor can I say that the amounts contained in the pre-mixed spices are enough to make a difference; but I can say I didn’t use it because I had all the other spices in my cabinet.

I keep things like ground ginger, cinnamon, and allspice because I’m a baker; and occasionally, it’s useful to blend my own spices as opposed to using a pre-mixed package. Personally, I like to add additional cinnamon; and since spices are for flavoring a mixture and don’t affect the texture of the final product, these things are flexible. So, feel free to use what I’ve outlined here; or just use some of them… you can play with the amounts or not—your treats will still smell like fall when they’re baking so long as you’ve used a few of them.

If you followed the pumpkin spice conversation, you’ll remember that cloves aren’t part of that equation; but yet, I included them. Cloves are actually good for your dogs and can help rid them of internal parasites. Yes, if you’re looking for a natural de-wormer, you can feed your dog a whole clove to help. Just like with all things, I’d encourage you to do your own research when turning to natural remedies because like with most things too much can usually be harmful—and I know larger dogs like mine can tolerate more than smaller dogs; so in this case, size does matter.

Truthfully, in the small quantity that I’ve called for, it’s not going to do much except enhance the smell of your treats. I do know my dogs like cloves as I’ve made them gingerbread treats last Christmas which didn’t last very long; and cloves, to me, smell like fall. If anything, let your dog smell all the spices individually and see what they like the most…this is a fairly flexible process.
All mixed up

In talking about the flours, some of you may have been surprised to find that I actually used a blend of
all-purpose flour and wheat flour. When making breads or cookies or anything else for human consumption, I’d never use 100% wheat flour—I’m just not that kind of baker (mostly because you have to change too much stuff to make it work)…and usually when making dog treats, I go 100% wheat flour because it’s healthier for them. However, this time, I wanted to change things up a bit… white flour won’t kill my dogs; and I really liked the way these treats rolled out and cut. Plus, white flour is so much better for dusting a rolling surface.

Yes, I decided to make these a roll out treat because of my awesome Jack-O-Lantern cookie cutter; and yes, I knew the pepitas might be an issue when it came to cutting the shapes. Nonetheless, the pepitas went in; and I still got great, true shapes. Just be sure to press down firmly, and your cutter should chop right through the pumpkin seeds as they’re not a hard as actual nuts.

As my cookie cutter has indentions for the eyes and mouth and I wanted to maintain those features in the finished treats, I omitted any leavening—so these treats have no baking powder or soda; and they still turned out really well and not too hard. The omission of leavening is going to be my excuse for naming these biscuits and not treats…Also, I’m thinking biscuits in the same way the British use that particular term.

Rolling out the dough
This dough did turn out quite stiff, and I did have to finish mixing it by hand. I would definitely suggest a heavy dusting on your rolling surface, rolling pin, and cookie cutter…and you’ll probably want to re-dip your cutter into flour after every few cookies to keep it from sticking. Again, a small off-set spatula is your friend in this process. Also, be sure to use a parchment or silpat lined baking sheet to bake them as that’s the best way to prevent sticking without adding additional fat or oil. 

Mine were perfect after 10 minutes at 350, and I did rotate my pans about halfway through (top to bottom and spin the pans). Then I immediately removed them from their baking sheets with a spatula to finish cooling on wire racks. Once cooled, I bagged them by the dozen and moved most to the freezer but kept some out for the fridge for immediate snacking.

Again, the smell was amazing—it’s worth it to make these treats to have my house smelling that good while they’re in the oven and to have that smell linger in the kitchen for most of the afternoon. As spoiled as my dogs are to all these varieties of treats, they still acted very fidgety when presented with these treats in that way that they reserve for food they think they just gotta have; and as these treats are about as wholesome as its gonna get in my house, I don’t have to feel bad at all in sharing them.

Check out the actual recipe by clicking here or keep scrolling…If you make these biscuits or have any questions about this or any of my dog treat recipes, please let me know. Feel free to leave a comment here, email me, or reach out to me via the social media links to the top right. Also, you can follow Jesse on Twitter @jdawg_yellow!

They always get that serious look in their eyes
Thanks for reading!!

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