Christmas in July! Fragrant No-Bake Gingerbread Ornaments

I admit it! I am enjoying Christmas in July!  Yes, the Hallmark Channel is on while I am doing my chores and I am watching old favorites and a couple of new Christmas movies.  It is a nice break from the 100+ degree temperatures that we are enduring.  I was watching "Home and Family" one day last week and saw a segment on Gingerbread Christmas ornaments that former First Lady Michelle Obama used to decorate the White House. I have a "kitchen tree" each Christmas that I decorate with candy and cake ornaments and they looked perfect for the theme.  So I went looking for the recipe.

I could not find the recipe on the "Home and Family" site, but found several with varying amounts of three, yes only three, ingredients.  Super easy to make, they literally last forever and smell wonderful! 

Before I begin with the recipe, I must state that you cannot eat these cookies! They smell divine, but contain glue so they are inedible. 

Cinnamon-Applesauce Ornaments

1 cup applesauce
4 - 6 ounces ground cinnamon, depending on consistency of applesauce 
2 Teaspoons white school glue (I used Elmer's) 

(I purchased all of these ingredients at the Dollar Store.  They do not have to be gourmet brands.)

In a medium-sized bowl, mix applesauce, four ounces of cinnamon and glue together until well combined. After a point, you will no longer be able to stir with a spoon and you will have to knead the dough with your hands until you have a smooth ball.  If the dough is still sticky, slowly add more cinnamon. On parchment paper or waxed paper, roll out the dough to a 1/2 inch thickness. I made and experimental cookie at 1/4 inch thickness and left it on the counter to dry.  It did not work well, but looked a little shriveled, so be sure to measure to 1/2 inch thick. 

Cut with a cookie cutter.  Use a bamboo skewer or toothpick to pierce a hole at the top for a ribbon or ornament hook.   Place on a cookie sheet. 

There are two options for finishing the cookies. Set them aside to dry for three or four days, flipping them over once or twice a day to insure both sides dry out. The second option, the one I chose, is to place the cookies in a 200 degree oven for 2 to 3 hours.  At the two hour mark, flip to make sure that the back side is drying as well.  If not, turn the cookies over so that the back side is up for about thirty minutes.  If extra drying time is still needed, flip the cookies back over to the front and bake for another half-hour or so.   

I baked mine because of the humidity we are now "enjoying".  (Also I don't have that much patience.) While I used parchment paper on my cookie sheet, I think that it would have been better to dry them directly on the pan. I am so glad that I baked them- the house smelled heavenly when they were in the oven! 

Once dry, decorate as desired.  I used puffy paint (thanks to my cousin, Gail for finding it!) for one gingerbread couple, and a simple heart for a more "primitive look" on another.  I also considered using rick-rack and ribbon, but found that this particular cookie was too small for them.  I have a six inch cutter that I will try next time.  

The original source for this recipe was www.thekitchenismyplayground.  I made a few changes based on my experience as I was baking.  

This recipe makes about six cookies, using a three inch cutter.  If you are looking for more cookies, the above website has a "classroom sized batch" which I haven't tried yet.  This would be an excellent activity for young children!  

Click here for a printable version of this recipe. 

I hope that you are enjoying Christmas in July!  Thanks for stopping by today! 


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