I think we all can agree that the best way to say I love you is with a homemade gift. My Valentine sentiments are usually expressed to friends and family with a tray of cookies — but don’t forget that furry friends love homemade cookies, too!
These heart-shaped treats are a fun and simple Valentine for your pup. The dough is made with just three ingredients: brown rice flour, water, and apple puree. Brown rice flour can usually be found in the health foods section at the grocery store, but if you can’t find it there, it’s available for purchase online. This special flour is gluten-free, so it’s easier for pups with sensitive stomachs to digest. You can also tailor this dog treat recipe by replacing the brown rice flour with oat flour or whole wheat flour – whatever caters best to your dog’s dietary needs.*
You will need:
Yield 7 dozen mini heart cookies
3 cups brown rice flour
3 jars (4 ounces each) pureed apple baby food
2 to 4 tablespoons water
Blue, pink, yellow, green, blue, violet and red gel food color
2-inch heart-shaped cookie cutter
Fine-tipped artist’s brush
Preheat oven to 350°F. Cover two (or more) baking sheets with parchment paper. Combine the brown rice flour and applesauce in a large mixing bowl. Mix together on medium speed until a crumbly dough forms.
Add water 1 tablespoon at a time until the mixture clumps together and forms soft, non-sticky dough. You may not have to use all of the water. If the dough is sticky, add extra flour as needed.
Divide the dough into five equal portions.
Return one portion of dough to the mixing bowl and add blue food color a little at a time until a pastel color is achieved. Add extra flour if the dough becomes sticky from the addition of food color.
Repeat the process with the remaining portions of dough and the pink, yellow, green, blue and violet gel food color.
Roll each piece of dough between two sheets of parchment paper; use a 2-inch heart shaped cookie cutter to cut shapes from the dough.
Transfer the dough cut outs to the prepared baking sheets with a small spatula. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, or until the cookies are firm and their surfaces appear dry. Let the cookies cool completely.
On a small plate, place a small portion of red gel food color and add 1 or 2 drops of water to thin it slightly. Use the artists’ brush to paint red conversation messages onto the treats. Let them stand for 30 minutes, or until the lettering is completely dry.
Treat your pup as desired. Store the treats in an airtight container.
*Note: Be sure to consult your vet before introducing new ingredients into your pet’s diet. The ASPCA assures us that food colorings approved for human consumption are also safe to be used in foods for pets. However, if you are not inclined to use food color you may omit it completely. Alternatively, vegetable powders such as carrot powder and beet powder can be added to the recipe to obtain color naturally. This recipe makes a large portion of dough, so consider gifting some cookies to dog friends and neighbors (with the owner’s approval, of course), or freeze half of the dough for later use.
All photographs by Heather Baird.