Well, unfortunately Chocolate and Champaign are off the menu. Instead, we’ve got some super delicious, cheddar, chicken, and bacon homemade Valentine’s Day dog treats to make. I know that cheddar, chicken, bacon doesn’t quite invoke a strong association with Valentine’s Day, so these treats get their valentines flair from their extra cute decoration, including dog-friendly, homemade sprinkles.
Usually when I bake I follow a recipe. I’ve made my fair share of homemade dog treats so this time I tried to wing it! Today I am sharing the recipe I made, the experience I had, and I’m also asking for your help to perfect it.
1 Can of 12oz canned chicken with liquid
½ can Pumpkin puree
¼ cup shredded cheese
3 pieces pre-cooked bacon
½ cup oats
3 cups flour
1/4 cup plain yogurt
I package freeze-dried (red) fruit
1 tsp cornstarch (maybe?)
Part 1: Planning
I started by thinking about past recipes I’ve made, including my favorite homemade training treats. Those use chicken and cheese so I figured I would go with that as a base. To add moisture I decided upon canned pumpkin. To thicken everything up oats, and to make sure everything combines nicely, flour. Once I thought of this plan, I overall felt really good about it.
Where I was struggling was how do I decorate these cookies so they scream Valentine’s Day? Well, my first thought of course was how do I make these pink and red? Berries of course! More specifically, freeze dried berries so I could crush them and use them as sprinkles.
The hardest part to devise was the icing. These are dog treats, so I wanted to avoid confectioners sugar and other typical sweeteners. Yogurt came to mind; it’s healthy for dogs, it’s a soft texture that can be thinned and most dogs like it.
I knew that if I added some water to the yogurt it would coat the dog treats really well. What u had to figure out next was how to have it set. In my regular life experience with yogurt its consistency remains soft and pliable in the fridge. I figured putting it on the dog treats wouldn’t change that quality.
As someone who cooks or bakes once in a while, I thought maybe cornstarch could act as a thickening agent. That’s what I tried out here!
Did I Scare You Away?
If you’ve made it this far, and I have already scared you away. No need to panic. There are plenty of store bought doggie Valentines Day Treats you can try out.
Part 2: Treat Biscuit Base
The dog treat part of this recipe came together pretty easily and went according to plan. Throw everything in the food processor, add flour until it’s combined, roll it out, and cut it into cute shapes.
My intention was to make dough that resembles cookie dough. I ended up with something more like a biscuit dough. The dough was a little sticky when I originally took it out of the food processor. That was not a problem though, to bring everything together I just kneaded flour into it before rolling it out. Crisis 1 diverted!
Add canned chicken, including the liquid, ½ can of pumpkin, and 1 egg to the food processor. Blend until smooth.
Add cheese and bacon to the food processor. Blend until smooth.
Add oats to the food processor. Blend until smooth. Then add ½ cup of flour to the food processor, Blend until smooth. Repeat 5 times. There will be ½ cup of flour left over, that is for rolling out the dough.
Spread flour onto a clean, flat surface.
Remove dough from the food processor, place on top of the flour you just spread.
Knead the dough until the flour is incorporated enough that the dough is no longer sticky to the touch.
Use the rolling pin to roll the dough ¼” thick.
Use the cookie cutters to cut out the treats.
Transfer the shapes onto the cookie sheets.
Cook the dog treats in the oven for 15–20 minutes.
Take them out of the oven, check that they are cooked through.
Allow them to cool fully before adding icing and sprinkles.
Next was figuring out how long they needed to cook. I put them into the oven at a conservative 350 and then cooked them for an initial 15 minutes. The chicken and back I used were both pre-cooked so I wasn’t too worried about anything being raw. I was more interested in making sure the dough had cooked enough to be a biscuit, while also not burning. After 20 minutes I deemed the dough had officially baked enough to be considered homemade dog biscuits!
Part 3: Sprinkles
Put freeze-dried fruit into a small plastic bag, make sure you remove the air and close it completely.
Use the rolling pin to crush the freeze-dried fruit into a texture just shy of powder
Part 4: Icing
The next step was by far the hardest- the icing. I started by thinning the yogurt by incorporating some water into it. Then I made a cornstarch flurry by mixing one teaspoon of cornstarch with some water in its own bowl. Then I added the flurry into the yogurt. Once it seemed fully incorporated I waited like 15 minutes before trying to use it to ice the cookies.
I dunked the cookies into the icing. Even with the addition of the cornstarch the yogurt was still pretty thin, so dunking seemed easiest and cleanest. The icing (yogurt mixture) stayed on the cookie nicely, yes! I left the cookie to set. 20 minutes I came back to check on it, and…. it was still nice and stuck to the cookie, but it was not stiff like icing. When I touched it there was a finger indent left behind.
At this point I wasn’t really sure what to do, so I figured let’s throw the test cookie into the freezer and see what happens- worst case scenario I bet most dogs love frozen yogurt.
Place ¼ cup yogurt into a bowl, add ¼ cup of water, mix together using a fork until the yogurt has thinned
Add 1 tsp of cornstarch, mix together using a fork
Let sit for 10 minutes so it can thicken
Part 5: Decorating
Dunk your cooled cookie into the yogurt icing mixture
Let the excess mixture pour off into the bowl
Place the cookie onto a plate
Add sprinkles to your liking
Place in freezer for 15–20 minutes so the icing can harden
Part 6: Results
I am a little torn about the results. I really like how cute the dog treats are, and my dog loved the chicken-cheese-bacon flavor combo. However, I do wish I had been able to perfect the icing. I did not want to have to put the treats into the freezer. And in addition, when I had left the treats for a few hours, they had absorbed the yogurt mixture leaving mostly the pink sprinkles on top.
So, my question to you all is, what else could I have added to the yogurt icing to make it solidify similarly to regular cookie icing, and without it being absorbed by the cookie?
I have not tried this, but I am pretty sure if you performed Part 2 in a blender, and then transferred the mixture to a mixer (or a bowl with a hand mixer) before adding the flour, you could easily make these cookies without the food processor.
The store had a 2lb bag of white flour, or a 5 lb bag of whole wheat flour. To avoid waste I chose the smaller bag of white flour. I’m sure either would work absolutely fine in this recipe.
If your dog does not like, or is allergic to chicken, substitute the chicken with the same amount of tuna!
If you want, you could make this from scratch and/or use mashed steamed sweet potato.
I specifically wanted a red fruit since I was making these for valentines day. Any dog-safe fruit should work. I also think it could be fun to experiment with adding beets to give the dog treats a red color.