This holiday season, I’m trying to keep many things homemade, or home crafted. Some in the spirit of frugality, and other simply because I like to challenge myself to use things already on hand.
In past years, we’ve been back visiting family on actual Christmas Eve/Day, so I have been content with a tiny artificial christmas tree & minimal decorations. But this year, we will be staying here in Texas, and thus a mini tree simply would not do! I grew up with real Christmas trees, but my husband’s family always had artificial trees, so it took some convincing to persuade him we should get a real tree this year.
I don’t mind artificial trees, I just know that we don’t really have space to store one during the off season & also a decent artificial tree costs a good chunk of change! And there is something so, almost magical about going and picking out your own tree each year.
After buying the actual tree, plus the tree stand and lights, I knew that I wanted to be a bit more creative with the remaining decorations (we only had mini ornaments & a tiny string of lights for our aforementioned tiny tree of the past). Instead of a tree skirt, I used a big piece of burlap I already had. I crocheted a simple garland for the tree out of some leftover white homespun yarn. We added some old snowflake ornaments that I at one time intended to tape on windows, as well as some candy canes. And finally, I made some Cinnamon Applesauce Ornaments from a recipe I pinned last year.
I have a vague childhood memory of one of my sisters making something similar to these ornaments either in grade school or Sunday School. But I really do not remember.... What does stick in my mind is how fragrant these type of ornaments are! Isn’t it amazing how much of a memory trigger smells can be? Cinnamon, along with evergreen, bayberry, cranberry & peppermint, really is one of those smells that transports me to Christmas time.
With only three ingredients, cinnamon, applesauce & ground cloves, the ornament dough is easy to make, though I will say that I’ve never measured out quite this much cinnamon for only one recipe before! The dough rolls out just like cookie dough (only cinnamon is used for dusting, not flour) and can be cut into whatever shapes desired. The dough does not spread at all, so the shape will stay true to whatever cookie cutter chosen. And seriously, the smell while the ornaments are baking is quite fantastic.
Once baked until hard, the ornaments just need a hanger & they are ready to use. I, of course, am rather partial to baker's twine, but really any sort of string or wire would work. It is best, though, to determine what kind of hanger will be used before the ornaments are baked (that way the opening for the hanger can be made into the appropriate size).
I did really intend to post this recipe earlier, but my computer hard drive had to be unexpectedly replaced this week and restoring my system ended up being a more complicated process than I originally anticipated. Thankfully, with the help of the Genius Bar employees & Apple’s phone support, my computer is completely restored & running smoothly! Even if the tree decorating is already done for this season, these ornaments would also make lovely additions to embellish wrapped packages or hostess gifts. Or, remember this craft for next year :)
Cinnamon Applesauce Ornaments
Adapted from Katy Elliott
Note, since these ornaments aren’t actually eaten, I went for the cheapest ingredients I could find--this is not the time for fancy applesauce or spices!
1 cup (244 g) Applesauce
1 1/2 c Cinnamon (divided into 1c and 1/2 c)
2 Tbl ground cloves
additional cinnamon for sprinkling
- Preheat the oven to 225 F. Line a couple baking sheets with parchment paper or a Silpat.
- In a bowl, stir together the apple sauce with 1 cup of the cinnamon. Keep mixing, switching to using your hands if it is easier, until a wet dough is formed.
- Sprinkle over the additional 1/2 c of cinnamon and the cloves. Knead, with your hands, in the bowl until everything is the same consistency. Be aggressive--you don’t want wet spots & dry spots. If the dough remains super sticky, add a little extra cinnamon. If the dough is excessively dry, add a spoonful of applesauce. Note: I didn’t have to add any additional cinnamon or applesauce.
- Sprinkle a clean board or counter with a little cinnamon (like you would flour for rolling out cookie dough). Use a rolling pin to roll the dough to between 1/4” and 1/8” and use cookie cutters to cut out your desired shapes. Place the cutouts onto the parchment lined baking sheets. Gather up the scraps, knead them well & repeat the rolling process until all the dough is used up. Use a skewer/toothpick/small dowel to poke a hole where string (or another hanger) can be added after the baking process.
- Bake the ornaments at 225 F for 1 hour, though check to make sure they are not developing any browning on the edges. Flip the ornaments over (they may have warped slightly) and bake for an additional 30 minutes. Turn off the oven, flip the ornaments again & allow them to cool completely in the oven. They should be rock hard once done. More baking time may be required for more humid climates.
- Once cool, add a loop of string (I, of course, am partial to bakers’ twine) and hang them on the Christmas tree, or use them to decorate packages.
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