Friday, September 30, 2016

Autumn is a good time for Cinnamon

I couldn't wait for Christmas time just to make a bunch of wonderfully scented (non-edible) cinnamon ornaments.

And why should they just be for tree ornaments anyway?
Get your Fall cookie cutters out and have at it!

I've got some nice finished acorns & maple leaves to hang in the house and car =)

You'll need:

2 Cups of cinnamon (hint: get it cheaper in the Spanish aisle at your grocery store!)
2 Cups of applesauce (not chunky!) many people use unsweetened, I just grabbed the first big jar I saw.
1+1/2 Tablespoons Apple Pie or Pumpkin Pie Spice
3 Tablespoons of Elmer's white (school) glue.
Rolling pin, cookie sheets, parchment paper (hint: Dollar Tree has parchment paper rolls for $1.00)

When I first started making these, I used a mixer.
I don't do that anymore because the last thing I want is cinnamon dispersed into the air that I'm breathing.      So these days, I use a heavy plastic spoon and mix by hand.

Mix your spice into your cinnamon to get it well blended, add to your applesauce along with the glue and stir slowly until it becomes a ball that rolls easily off the insides of the bowl without leaving any residue...

Sprinkle some cinnamon onto your counter top
 (I use a silicone mat to keep from having to chase my dough mixtures around)

 Place your dough ball onto center and pat into a flattened disc, every now and again you'll have to "flour" your surface as well as your rolling pin - with cinnamon to keep it from sticking to the pin or mat.              

Roll it out to about a quarter inch thickness and press down into dough with your cookie cutters enough to get a good clean cut.

You'll want to do any other cutter designs like the little hearts cut out of some of the gingers you see above as well as holes for hanging later.  I usually transfer my pieces over to my baking sheet that I've already lined with parchment paper before making the holes for hanging.

 The holes are simple if you use a length of plastic drinking straw shorter than a toothpick.

 Simply push down on the straw where you want the hole to be and lift.  99% of the time the dough from the hole will stay in the straw.  To remove it, poke a toothpick down into the straw and continue making your holes this way.  ( if the dough hole is cut but the dough stays on the cookie sheet, just insert the straw back in that spot and squeeze a tiny bit while lifting up )

Bake at 200 degrees f for 2 hours and cool on cooling/cookie racks.

Strawberry Meringue Treats


There are - literally - hundreds of different recipes out here on the web, for each and every single yummy you can imagine or dream up.
When I end up buying everything I need to try one, from tools to ingredients and find that it just is not turning out the way it did for the original poster or worse, realizing they skipped or missed a step that they'd added later in the comments below -
    I get the urge to give up and move on to another.  Lately though, since I've accumulated a bunch of supplies for my kitchen endeavors, giving up has been less of an option and more of a challenge to figure it out and get it right.

This recipe is a culmination of three different attempts of a few recipes I tried for meringue.
One batch never even made it to the oven.  With each fail, came enlightenment and on my forth try when I Frankenstein'd a recipe, cooking time, cooking temp and method of my own?  Viola!

So I share it here and hope you'll post your results if you try it =) Shown are my finished results.

1/2 Cup pasteurized egg whites at room temperature
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 Cup granulated sugar - set aside in it's own small bowl
1 drop gel food coloring - if color is desired (I used Americolor 114 Deep Pink)
1/4 teaspoon extract of your choice (or LorAnn flavor oil I used strawberry)


Shake carton of egg white well and fill a 1/2 cup measuring cup to sit and become room temperature.

Line baking sheets with parchment paper.
If making pops, get your sticks ready and set aside.
Put your stand mixer's bowl in the fridge to chill.
When eggs are at or about room temp, preheat oven to 175 degrees F.

Attach bowl and whisk beater to mixer and pour in eggs, mixing on medium until the eggs  become "frothy"   - At which time you'll add your cream of tartar.

Mix at medium speed until it becomes even more frothy and thickens a bit.

While this is mixing, add your drop of color and flavoring into your bowl of sugar and mix thoroughly with a fork.
Start adding your sugar in small amounts, to the egg whites while still beating on medium.

Keep adding in increments until well blended and then hike your mixer up to High speed.
(Every so often, scrape the sides and bottom of bowl to ensure sugar crystals are blended in and not building up on sides of bowl)

It may take a while but keep beating at high speed until the mixture does not fall from the beater when removed and lightly tapped (and the mixture is the same consistency throughout the bowl)

Get out a nice big piping bag and large tip (I used 1M) and make your kisses with a squeeze and lift  and/or make some squiggle cookies going back and forth -

or if you are making pops...

pipe a small dollop onto parchment paper to hold the top of the stick to the paper and then go round in a circle making a "rosette" at the top end of your stick so that you've covered about an inch and a half to two inches of the stick with the center and bottom of the rosette.

~ Bake for 1 hr and 35 minutes, keep oven closed but turn it off and let it cool with the baking trays inside.  Afterwards, transfer the meringue goodies to cooling racks to air dry further.

If you've made pops, you'll want to turn them to face parchment paper to dry the backs and then add royal icing or melted chocolate to secure the pop sticks further.  (see the back of a pop below)