Maryanne and I give a lot of gifts from our kitchen, as you might imagine. We spend time during the year making jams, preserves, and jellies from seasonal fruits, and we do a fair amount of pickling and preserving the vegetables we grow. And then, of course, there's the holiday baking - cookies, breads, pies and so on. For the past few days, I've been baking cookies...but not for the people on our list. No, this time around we decided to bake cookies for the various animals in the family. I'll be sharing my recipes for animal treats here over the coming week, and today we'll start with horse cookies.
One of my sisters has a couple of horses and I thought it would be kind of cool to come up with something they'd enjoy. Horses like sweet and chewy treats - one of their favorites is big, sweet oversized carrots - so I wanted to come up with something the horses would love and that my sister could carry in her pocket out to the barn. I came up with this recipe, which horses really do seem to love.
Makes about 3 dozen 2-inch treats
4 cups whole wheat flour, plus more for kneading
3 cups uncooked quick oats
¼ cup brown sugar
¼ cup vegetable oil
½ cup molasses
1 cup applesauce
¾ cup apple cider (approximately)
Preheat your oven to 300 F.
Stir the flour and oats together with the brown sugar in a large bowl. Whisk together the egg, oil, molasses and applesauce until well combined, then dump the mixture into the flour and oats and work it in with a strong wooden spoon. Gradually add cider, kneading it in to make a rather sticky dough.
Turn out the dough onto a heavily-floured surface (I used whole wheat flour for this, too) and knead for several minutes, adding flour as necessary to keep the dough from sticking too much to your hands and the surface, until the dough is stiff, somewhat tacky, and easy to form. This can take half a cup or more of additional flour.
Roll the dough out approximately half an inch thick and cut into cookies with a 2-inch round biscuit cutter. Scraps should be briefly kneaded into a solid mass, then rerolled and cut. Arrange the cookies on baking sheets prepared either by greasing them or by lining them with baking parchment. Bake for 1 hour at 300 F, then shut the oven off and leave the cookies on the pans in the oven as it cools for several hours to help dry them out.
When the cookies are completely cooled, they can be stored in an airtight container to use as needed.
I sampled one of them after the initial baking and before the drying time, and they're pretty tasty (though not exactly my idea of a snack, my sister's horses are going to love them.)