Fact #1: our dog, Paki, loves to munch on bones (like all dogs I guess). Fact #2: dogs are adored by their owners. Add these two facts together, and you’ve got Dog Bonze – a great hostess gift for dog-loving friends.
Taking Paki’s love of bone-munching as the place to start, I decided to make the treats hard and crunchy, as bone-like as possible, plus with plenty of attractive and satisfying flavor. To achieve the hard and crunchy, I used plain white flour with an addition of high-gluten flour, then mixed the dough with the bread hook for ten minutes to develop the gluten. This makes for strong dough that holds together and does not break apart. The satisfying flavor comes from bacon fat, garlic, peanut butter, salt and chicken broth. I am not sure dogs care about salt, but I certainly do find salted foods taste better! After baking, I left the bones in the turned-off oven overnight to harden them up, and they really are crunchy. They don’t taste too bad, actually. Roll them out like crackers and you can serve them as hors-d’oeuvres to homo sapiens.
Now for the taste test. Paki is on vacation, so our son Nick went down to Dezerin’s house where they tested on his German Shepherd, Crystal. Here is their report: Dezerin put a bone on a chair and Crystal immediately walked over, grabbed it in her teeth and ran off. They saw her munch it down. “She didn’t spend a lot of time chewing on it like a hard bone. It was more like she ate a cookie, it went fast” Nick says. And I thought my bones would give dogs something to work on! Then the boys tried the bars. Same thing; she ran off, chomped it down. Later I tested them out on Todd, our neighbor dog (he is lovely and sweet when you are face-to-face, but when I am behind a fence, he would take my head off if he could!). I gave him a bone through a hole in the fence. He came over cautiously, took the bone and carried it off a little ways, laid it on the ground and gave it his undivided attention until it was gone. The bones are quite crunchy, definitely more work than a cookie. Todd had a good time with it. A little later I gave him a bar, and he enjoyed it a lot too. Now I can’t wait for Paki to get back from vacation so she can have some.
To gift: tie up the bones with raffia or simple kitchen twine for a rustic look, add a tag with your photo or your dog’s photo, then put them in a little doggie dish or a paper bag with its sides rolled down. Important to note: these bonze are greasy; if you use a paper bag for storage or gifting, be sure to line it with a plastic bag.
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp powdered garlic
1/2 cup bacon fat (or chicken or beef fat) at room temperature
1/4 cup peanut butter
1 cup of meat broth (water that chicken bones or beef bones have been simmered in)
3 to 4 cups white flour, possibly more
3 Tbsp of high-gluten flour (optional)
Preheat oven to 350. Put all ingredients except the flour in an electric mixer and blend on medium speed until smooth. In a separate bowl, combine 2 cups of the flour with the high-gluten flour and add to the liquid ingredients, continuing to mix. Continue to add 1/2 cup at a time. The mixture will become thicker and you will want to change out the whip attachment to a bread hook. Add flour until it becomes the consistency of thick bread dough, then mix with the hook for 5 – 10 minutes more.
With floured hands, pat the dough into a flat, square disk. Liberally flour your clean, dry tabletop (or other favorite rolling surface), set the disk down on the flour and dust the top liberally with more flour. With a rolling pin, roll out the dough to 1/2” thick (or press it out with your hands). If it starts to stick as you are rolling it out, add more flour.
For bars, mark out the dough to 1” x 3” and, using a ruler as a guide, cut into bars. Place the bars on a cookie sheet – no need to grease.
To make into bonze, take a bar, wrap your fingers around the center and squeeze gently, rotating the bar and squeezing as you go until the center of the bar becomes round like a cyclinder. Both ends will pooch out. Shape the pooched-out ends to form the “joints”. Place bonze on cookie sheet. Bake at 350 for 45 minutes, then turn down the heat to 300 and bake for at least one hour more. When they are solidly firm all the way through, turn off the oven but leave the bonze in, door closed, overnight to cool – this helps make them extra crunchy.
Cool, simple, fun, yummy.