Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Baking for the Non-Baker

I have always wondered how those delightful cinnamon-cookie-ornaments were made and this year I figured it out.  Who knew these are made out of just applesauce and cinnamon?  I decided to add some other aromatic spices to give these more of a spicy-holiday smell above and beyond the cinnamon.
This is such an easy crafty holiday activity and your house will smell absolutely wonderful for days - it's worth making them just to have that holiday smell wafting through the air.  Even if you are not a baker, you can't mess these up. 
The dough is a little bit challenging to work with because it's kind of dry and flakes a bit.  I found that instead of rolling the dough out with a rolling pin, it was easier to just press it flat and smooth with my palms.  If the dough is too brittle, just add a little bit of water (in teaspoonfuls).  These were a little too delicate for my four-year-old to help with, but older kids could probably do this project without too much supervision (if you need something for your bored, house-bound cherubs to work on).
Also, did you know you can buy giant containers of cinnamon at Costco for about $4?
This recipe will make about 20 ornaments.

Spicy Cookie Ornaments
2 cups applesauce
2-1/2 cups cinnamon (it's about 4oz of cinnamon to a measured cup - so you need LOTS)
2 Tbls cloves
1 Tbls cardamom
1 Tbls nutmeg

Mix, knead all ingredients together until well combined into a ball shape.  Flatten dough on smooth surface and cut with cookie cutters.  Use a straw to punch out the ornament-string hole.  Remember that the ornament will shrink in the oven, so a skewer or toothpick will not create a big enough hole.  Use a toothpick to gently add detail if desired (I found poking worked better than dragging or scraping with the toothpick.)  No grease or flour is necessary.  Place on cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.  Bake at 200 degrees for 2 hours.  Let cool, do not store in air-tight containers - these become more sturdy as they become drier.  Use a microplane or even just your fingernails to smooth rough edges (gently!).
Tie with ribbon or string and gift away!  I understand they can last for years.
Word of warning: DO NOT EAT THESE, unless of course you have some sort of intestinal parasite.  I am going to guess these do NOT taste good and would be quite spicy.

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