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‘Doggy Desserts’ book provides cheesecake, peanut butter muffins and more recipes to pamper your pooch

‘Doggy Desserts’ book provides cheesecake, peanut butter muffins and more recipes to pamper your pooch
Cover of the book "Doggy Desserts" by Cheryl Gianfrancesco. (Fox Chapel Publishing)

It’s not often I find myself drooling over homemade dog food recipes. But with names such as “cheddar lover’s biscuits,” “oatmeal coconut cookies,” “applesauce spice cake” and “banana ice cream,” I was as tempted to try the recipes in the updated “Doggy Desserts” cookbook as was my furry little man, Welles, and his tail-wagging friends.

The recipes in the book, by Cheryl Gianfrancesco, were inspired by her dog, Kooper, who was ill as a young pup and was put on a strict diet that excluded store-bought food. Gianfrancesco came up with the treats as a way to spoil her dog, and “Doggy Desserts” was born.

The new edition contains a whopping 125 recipes sorted by type of treat, along with helpful information about ingredients harmful to dogs. There is an emphasis on using ingredients that are healthful and natural.

It’s hard to remember that this is a cookbook for dogs. The photography is gorgeous, and the recipes, with just a few exceptions, call for common supermarket staples.

I tested —and personally tasted — both the peanut butter muffins and cheese cake. Although I found them a bit bland (the recipes are light on sweeteners and contain no added salt), my dog and his pals couldn’t get enough of them.

The strawberry frost — a smoothie-like dessert containing strawberries, yogurt, honey and a touch of vanilla — is one treat I’ll be making for the whole family, both four- and two-legged.

“Doggy Desserts: 125 Homemade Treats for Happy, Healthy Dogs” by Cheryl Gianfrancesco (Fox Chapel Publishing, $10.99). Available Tuesday.

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Cream cheese cake, from the book "Doggy Desserts" by Cheryl Gianfrancesco.
Cream cheese cake, from the book "Doggy Desserts" by Cheryl Gianfrancesco. (Pressmaster / Pressmaster)

Cream cheese cake

  • About 1 hour, plus cooling time. Makes 1 cake
  • 4 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 2 eggs
  • ¼ cup honey
  • ½ cups all-natural applesauce, no sugar added
  • ½ cup water
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups unbleached white flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ cup wheat germ

1. Heat the oven to 350 degrees.

2. In a bowl, beat the cream cheese until smooth, then slowly beat in the eggs, honey, applesauce, water and vanilla until the ingredients are completely incorporated and the mixture is smooth. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and wheat germ. Slowly add the wet ingredients to the dry mixture.

3. Pour into a greased 13-inch by 9-inch baking pan. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean, 40 to 45 minutes. Cool in the pan before serving.

Each serving: Calories 132; protein 4 grams; carbohydrates 21 grams; fiber 1 gram; fat 4 grams; saturated fat 2 grams; cholesterol 30 mg; sugar 7 grams; sodium 133 mg

Note: Adapted from a recipe in “Doggy Desserts: 125 Homemade Treats for Happy, Healthy Dogs” by Cheryl Gianfrancesco. For individual cake rounds, grease and line the bottom of the pan with parchment before baking, leaving enough parchment to overhang the sides and use as “handles” when removing the cake. Grease the parchment base, then chill the cake well after cooling so it is firm enough to remove from the pan; use cookie or biscuit cutters to cut the cake into rounds.


Peanut butter muffins, from the book "Doggy Desserts" by Cheryl Gianfrancesco.
Peanut butter muffins, from the book "Doggy Desserts" by Cheryl Gianfrancesco. (Tara Gregg / Tara Gregg)

Peanut butter muffins

  • 45 minutes, plus cooling time. Makes 12 muffins
  • ½ cup all-natural peanut butter, no salt or sugar added
  • ¼ cup honey
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ¼ cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup skim milk
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 ¾ cups whole wheat flour

1. Heat the oven to 350 degrees.

2. In a large bowl, beat together the peanut butter, honey, eggs, vanilla, oil, milk, baking powder, baking soda and wheat flour until fully combined to form a smooth batter. Spoon the batter into a greased muffin tin, filling each cup ¾ full. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center of the muffins comes out clean, 18 to 20 minutes. Cool, then remove from the pan.

Each muffin: Calories 211; protein 6 grams; carbohydrates 22 grams; fiber 3 grams; fat 11 grams; saturated fat 2 grams; cholesterol 31 mg; sugar 7 grams; sodium 202 mg

Note: Adapted from a recipe in “Doggy Desserts: 125 Homemade Treats for Happy, Healthy Dogs” by Cheryl Gianfrancesco.


Strawberry frost, from the book "Doggy Desserts" by Cheryl Gianfrancesco.
Strawberry frost, from the book "Doggy Desserts" by Cheryl Gianfrancesco. (Fox Chapel Publishing / Fox Chapel Publishing)

Strawberry frost

  • 10 minutes plus freezing time. Makes about 3 cups
  • 2¾ cups frozen strawberries
  • 1 cup low-fat vanilla yogurt
  • ¼ cup honey
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract

Place the strawberries, yogurt, honey and vanilla in a food processor and pulse until smooth. If you are not going to serve the frost immediately, pour into a freezer-safe container and freeze until firm. Remove and allow the frost to soften before serving.

Each of 9 servings: Calories 68; protein 2 grams; carbohydrates 16 grams; fiber 1 gram; fat 0; cholesterol 1 mg; sugar 14 grams; sodium 19 mg

Note: Adapted from a recipe in “Doggy Desserts: 125 Homemade Treats for Happy, Healthy Dogs” by Cheryl Gianfrancesco.

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