Sunday, February 15, 2009
sometimes people ask me how i come up with ideas. i suppose sometimes clever little thoughts just pop into my head out of nowhere, but generally it works more like this:
eva and i made valentine ornaments for her friends out of cinnamon dough. why? because i finally got around to cleaning out my spice cabinet last week, and came across three old containers of cinnamon (that doesn't count the three different kinds of good penzey's cinnamon i also had in there). i will fess up that one cinnamon was stop & shop brand, which only exists on the east coast (i think?), which means i bought it in college. and i've already been to my 10 year reunion. (how that was still in there, i'm not sure...) so, what to do with all that cinnamon? wait, i seem to remember the existence of some sort of cinnamon dough... off to research, and this is what i found: a dough made of cinnamon and applesauce. lucky, because i had a partial jar of applesauce in the fridge that was soon to be a bit questionably old (how long does applesauce keep, anyway? seems like forever...)
true to form, i of course had to modify things a bit. i found a recipe on kaboose (there are many, this is the one i randomly chose), but it called for elmer's glue. now, i'm sure school glue is technically edible, but i wanted to make these entirely out of food just in case (and a good thing -- the very first recipient took a very cute bite out of one of the hearts before i had a chance to advise otherwise -- oops!). but what is school glue anyway but a kind of paste? and paste is just flour and water... so i replaced the glue with a flour/water mixture that was approximately the same consistency. why not?
rather than let them dry for a few days, we put them in a 200 degree oven for a couple hours, turning every 30 minutes or so (or, once the edges began to curl). we found that the optimum thickness is in fact between 1/8" and 1/4" -- a bit thicker worked (just took longer to dry) but the thinner ones split a bit. that said, it's not so fussy that you can't just let your preschooler roll them out and cut them herself. (she did fine with the hearts and stars, but needed some help with the seahorses.)
we jointly came up with the idea to use our mini-sandwich cutters to make small shapes and connect some of them into mobiles. she also wanted to decorate them, and so we tried using luster dust from my cake decorating supplies. we mixed it with orange extract (which i never use, also discovered in my spice cabinet clean-out), and added food coloring to half of it to get silver and pink. she really had fun decorating, but unfortunately unlike when applied to a softer medium like fondant, in this case the luster dust just sort of flaked off when it dried. so, it's fine as long as you don't handle them too much, and worst case, you have silvery fingers.
these would make great christmas tree ornaments or gifts for another occasion beyond valentine's day. the cinnamon smell is really lovely, and i presume they keep indefinitely.
happy valentine's day! a bit late in posting, though the treats were delivered on time -- except for a few, which haven't made it into the mail yet. oops.