Heart Shaped Horse Treats for Valentine’s Day

Enjoy making special red heart shaped horse treats with beets.

Horse treats with red beets

Want to show some love with heart shaped horse treats for Valentine’s Day? Fresh beetroot provides a deep red color in this this homemade Valentines day horse treat recipe.

Heart Shaped Horse Treats With Homemade Beet Coloring

Using beets as natural food coloring is a bit tricky. It takes care to preserve the beetroot’s red color. Otherwise the natural red beet color breaks down in conditions that are common in baking.

The rich red of beets comes from betalain, a natural pigment that beets make from an amino acid. (Betalain gets its name from beta vulgaris, the scientific name for beetroot.) However, betalain breaks down and turns yellow or brown unless you know how to protect it during the baking process.

To help keep the beetroot’s red color of these horse treats we will use:

  • Slightly acidic ingredients
  • Low heat
  • Storage away from light
  • Airtight storage

Betalain needs acidic conditions to stay red. Basic or neutral mixtures cause the betalain to break down. That means we need a dough that has a pH under 7.

Two acidic ingredients — honey and lemon juice — will offset the higher pH of baking soda, which is basic. Without a mild acid, the red color vanishes as the treats bake in the oven (I know because I saw it happen testing an earlier version of this recipe).

We’ll form the heart shapes by hand. The dough is too soft to roll out for cutting with a cookie cutter. Plus you might really like the whimsical look of hand-shaped heart horse treats.

To form the hearts, roll a bit of dough into about 1/4 inch thick log about 2 inches long. Break it in half and push the broken ends together side by side. The free ends naturally curve away from each other. Instant heart!

Print Recipe
Red Heart Shaped Horse Treats (with beetroot)
Enjoy Valentine's Day with heart shaped horse treats. Their rich red color comes from fresh beetroot and a recipe designed to preserve their natural color when baking.
heart shaped horse treat valentine
Cuisine Horse Treats
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 2-3 hours
Passive Time 4-8 hours (overnight)
pieces (about)
Cuisine Horse Treats
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 2-3 hours
Passive Time 4-8 hours (overnight)
pieces (about)
heart shaped horse treat valentine
  1. Prepare the beet. Slice the beetroot 1/4 inch thick and boil for about 10 minutes in water until softened. Set aside to cool.
  2. Working in batches, grind the oats in a food processor or blender to make a powdery flour. Place the ground oats in a large mixing bowl.
  3. Add the flaxseed meal, cinnamon, salt, baking soda and stir into the oat flour.
  4. In a blender or food processor, add the beetroot with the cooking water, lemon juice and ginger and blend until smooth.
    beet puree
  5. Add the beet mixture to the oatmeal mixture. Stir in oil and honey to form a soft dough.
    Soft beetroot horse treat dough
  6. Add the fennel seeds and mix until incorporated.
    Horse treat fennel seed recipe
Form the hearts
  1. Roll pieces of dough into logs about 1/4 inch thick and 2 inches long. Pinch them apart in the middle and lay the pieces side by side. Gently push and roll the pinched ends together to form the bottom of the heart. The free ends will curve out to form a heart-like shape.
  2. Place treats on 2 cookie sheets lined with parchment
  3. Bake at 225-degrees for 40 minutes. Rotate sheets front to back and top to bottom. Bake another 40 minutes. Rotate sheets again and bake another 30-40 minutes.
  4. Test for doneness by taking one treat out to cool. When it becomes firm and almost completely dry when broken after cooling, turn off the heat. Leave the remaining to cool in the oven for 4 hours or overnight.
  5. Store in an airtight container out of sunlight. Enjoy!
Recipe Notes

2-inch beetroot A two-inch beet is enough to color dozens of horse treat valentines.  

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