Introduction: Recycle Inedible Cookie Dough Into Fragrant Christmas Tree Decorations

Have you ever gotten so distracted while baking cookies that you added wrong ingredients and ended up ruining the entire thing? What to do with a weird concoction of too much salt, wrong type of flour or overworked dough? Two options: take your chances, bake it and weep. Or chuck it in the bin...

I’m proposing a third option: freeze your destroyed dough and wait until December to make gingerbread scented, recycled Christmas tree cookie decorations. Baked with copious amounts of fragrant spices to create the most wonderful scent of gingerbread that lingers in a room for 2-3 weeks. They are amazing, every time you walk into a room, you are hit with a scent of gingerbread. It’s such a small thing, but makes me instantly happy.

Those cookies might be baked with regular baking ingredients, but they are completely inedible. Even if someone decided to snack on your tree decorations, the taste is so disgusting, especially if you use cloves, that no one will be able to take more than one bite (immediately followed by spitting and looking for water).

Step 1: Spices

  1. For my medium sized tree I used about 250g dough, if your tree is bigger, you will have to double the amount of dough.
  2. For every 250g of dough you should use 30-50g spices. The amount depends on the quality and freshness of your spices (and personal preference). Old spices get stale and lose their fragrance, so either buy a new batch or add as much as it takes to get the scent you want.
  3. You can use shop-bough ready mixed gingerbread spice or create our own unique blend. I like to blend my own and make something new every year.

List of possible spices:
Cinnamon, aniseed, nutmeg, cardamom, cloves, powdered ginger.

Step 2: Warning to Pet Owners

Before you attempt this project, research which spices you shouldn’t use in case your dog (or cat) mistakes tree decorations for treats. Google provides mixed information, so you might have to consult a vet. One thing I know for sure is that nutmeg is toxic to both dogs and cats, cloves are harmful to cats and star anise can have a catnip-like effect on some felines.

Also, don’t use salt dough, excessive salt consumption is toxic to pets.

Step 3: Recycling the Dough

  1. I took my oversalted, frozen (250g) dough out of the freezer and defrosted it in the room temperature until pliable.
  2. Once soft, I put it in the stand mixer with a paddle attachment and added 1TBS fat (butter) and mixed it until it resembled thick frosting.
  3. I added 40g spices and used a mixer and my hands to knead it into a smooth ball. There is no need to refrigerate, you can go ahead and start rolling it straight away.
  4. I added cocoa powder to make the dough darker.

Step 4: Cutting and Baking

Roll the dough directly onto a sheet of parchment paper, roll it fairly thin to get as many cookies as possible. Cut various shapes and don't forget to cut a small hole at the top to thread a ribbon or a string.

Bake at 170°C for 10-12min.

Step 5: Decorating

    Cool down completely before decorating.

    Use store bough icing pens or make royal icing by whipping 1 egg white with 2 cups of powdered sugar.

    Last step is to thread a ribbon through the hole.

    Step 6: Finished

    Step 7: Make It From Scratch

    If you want to make those scented decorations and don't have any ruined dough, you can make it from scratch. Here’s a simple cookie recipe. The best thing about this recipe is that you can’t go wrong. You can use cheaper alternatives, like margarine or shortening instead of butter, use leftover or expired flour etc. It would be a perfect project for kids, since those cookies won’t be eaten, you don’t have to worry about overworking the dough and overdeveloped gluten.

    2/3 cup fat (butter or margarine) (150g)
    1/2 cup sugar (100g)
    2 cups flour (250g) ---→ remember to substitute 60-100g of flour with spices
    1 egg

    Cream room temperature fat with sugar, add an egg and mix until combined. Add flour and spices and mix with a large wooden spoon. Once the dough comes together, tip it out of the bowl onto a flat surface and knead until it forms one big ball of dough. If it’s too sticky, sprinkle more flour and knead until it no longer sticks to you hands. Bake at 170°C for 10-12 min.

    Holiday Decorations Speed Challenge

    Participated in the
    Holiday Decorations Speed Challenge