Handmade Decorations: Cinnamon & Applesauce Ornaments
If you do an internet search for 'cinnamon ornaments' or 'cinnamon applesauce ornaments', you'll find dozens of different recipes. In general, the recipes are one part 'wet ingredients' to just over one part 'dry ingredients'. The main wet ingredient is applesauce, the main dry ingredient is cinnamon, so you CAN make them from a dough made entirely from cinnamon and applesauce. I combined several recipes, and ended up using approximately 3 cups applesauce (that's how much was in the jar)and 1/4 cup of white glue to approximately 3 cups cinnamon + a half cup of cinnamon, cloves, allspice, and ginger. I mixed it all together and made a very sticky dough, and that's when it all went wrong :D
Mix all your ingredients together into a dough. If your dough is too sticky, you can add more cinnamon, put the dough in the refrigerator for a while, or both. *I* followed the directions on a recipe that said 'roll your dough between two sheets of either plastic wrap or waxed paper'. For the first batch, I rolled my dough between my waxed paper to 1/4" thick, as suggested. The thing about waxed paper is that it is, in fact, a very thin paper with some wax on it, so if we get it wet enough, as this dough did, the paper starts to disintegrate. Halfway through cutting them out, I gave up, salvaged the ornaments I could and put them in the oven, kneaded more cinnamon into my dough (while trying to be sure I picked out all the disintegrating waxed paper), then popped it into the fridge for two hours. I flipped the first batch of ornaments every 45 minutes for 2.5 hours, and there was minimal curling. For the second batch, I sprinkled more cinnamon onto my counter and rolled the dough to about 1/2" thick. This batch is currently still in the oven. They were already starting to curl a bit when I turned them after 45 minutes. Keep in mind when choosing your designs that these shrink quite a bit as they dry, so you'll want your cut outs to be at least 20% bigger than you want your finished product to be. You can also let them air dry, but they need to be turned every few hours, and it might take several days for them to dry, depending on how thick they are.
Cost for about 5 dozen ornaments:
Applesauce $1 for jar
Cinnamon 2 large jars $1 each (found these at the dollar tree)
Cookie cutters (or you could just make cardboard patterns and cut them with a knife)
I had all the other ingredients already, which is why I added them, so $3 plus less than $1 in materials I already had for 5 dozen ornaments, equals less than $1 a dozen, even if you spend $1 on a pack of cookie cutters from the dollar tree.
Things I would do differently if I were to do these again:
1. I think I'd leave out the glue. I'm not sure exactly what it's purpose was supposed to be, but this dough was SO sticky that I nearly tossed it into the trash after fifteen minutes.
2. I'd roll it out thicker than I did the first time--these shrink quite a bit as a they dry, so 1/2" to 3/4" is what I would try.
3. Plastic wrap, not waxed paper.
4. SIMPLE cookie cutters--my son tried to use some cookie cutters that had details (like a snowman with the features, scarf, etc drawn in) and the dough stuck to it.
These smell divine, and it is very easy to knead unused dough and re-roll it (especially important if your helper, like mine, sees no need to actually cut one ornament near another when he can space it just far enough that you can't fit another between them). Those are the only things I liked about this project. I was nervous about letting my six year old help, and wouldn't allow my 3 year olds to help--I was afraid that the spices would irritate their skin or get into their eyes. The stickiness was probably due to the glue, but it made this the most frustrating project I've done EVER! Worst of all, my husband took one look at them and said "They're not really very festive, are they?" Which, all things considered, was much nicer than what Nicky said--he pointed at the pile of dough on the counter and said "EWW!! Poopy!!!" :P Still, though, with some homespun fabric tied through them, these are very much in the primitive style that's in right now, and they're not very expensive.
UPDATE: After giving it a few weeks for the frustration to wear off, I actually like these ornaments :D Part of the problem with the dough, I think, was the glue, and part of it was simply inexperience on my part. I may actually do these again someday, but I won't add the glue, I'll add more dry ingredients, and I'll pop the dough in the refrigerator to chill before trying to work with it.