Christmas Cupcakes In July

We are just coming off of a seemingly endless stretch of 90+ degree days here in NJ.  It’s been a hot, humid and VERY rainy summer so far – a lot more like the tropics than the Mid-Atlantic.  The weather has been more conducive to loafing around on the couch in the A/C watching old Law & Order: SVU episodes on Netflix than it has been to baking.  Who wants to turn on an oven inside when it FEELS like an oven outside?  Not this girl.

Luckily things have finally cooled down a bit, just in time for me to bake some cupcakes for our Christmas in July celebration at work today!

Spiked Hot Chocolate Cupcakes

I was having a hard time getting in the spirit of things and deciding on a flavor so I did a little poll on my Facebook page.  I had quite a few good suggestions: eggnog, gingerbread, red velvet.  I was leaning towards eggnog until someone mentioned peppermint.  Mint is not only Christmasy, it’s also cool and refreshing – perfect for hot weather!

I was inspired by these Peppermint Hot Chocolate Cupcakes from easybaked but I knew I wanted to add a splash of booze to my cupcakes – they are for a holiday party after all 😉

Spiked Hot Chocolate Cupcakes

24 cooled chocolate cupcakes, prepared in the manner of your choice (I used Pillsbury Devil’s Food cake mix)

To make the frosting:

Heat 1/2 cup of milk, half & half or heavy cream either on the stove top or in the microwave.  Dissolve one packet of instant hot chocolate mix in the milk and let cool.

In a stand mixer combine:

1 stick softened butter
1/2 cup shortening
pinch of salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 tablespoons peppermint schnapps
10 cups confectioners sugar
1/2 cup cooled hot chocolate

The bowl for my mixer isn’t that big, so I started off with 5 cups of the confectioners sugar, mixed that with all the other ingredients and then added the other 5 cups of confectioners sugar.

Frost cooled cupcakes then add mini marshmallows (I used mini chocolate ones) and a peppermint candy for garnish.

Hot Chocolate Cupcakes with Peppermint Schnapps

Did anyone else celebrate Christmas in July this year?  Only 152 days until the real deal!!

The 12 Daze of Christmas

Today I got a little break from the pre-Christmas running around madness.  Presents are all wrapped, cookies are baked, make-ahead mashed potatoes for Christmas Eve dinner are made…ahead.  What better way to enjoy some downtime than with a cocktail?

chocolate caramallow cocktail

This drink was inspired by those chocolate covered marshmallow and caramel santas that you can buy at the drugstore this time of year.  I love those things!

While I was whipping this up, I thought of a Christmas song called The 12 Daze of Christmas by Fay McKay.  It’s not something they ever play on the radio – I’m not even sure how I ever heard it in the first place – but they should, because it’s freaking hilarious.

So if you too could use a little drink and some music to unwind this evening, play that and make this:

Chocolate Caramallow 2

Chocolate Caramallow Cocktail

1 oz Pinnacle Marshmallow Vodka
2 oz Godiva Chocolate Liqueur
splash of half & half
ice
caramel sundae syrup, chocolate syrup and marshmallows for garnish (optional)

Combine marhsmallow vodka, chocolate liqueur, half & half, and ice in a cocktail shaker and shake until frosty.  Drizzle caramel sundae syrup inside martini glass, then pour in drink.  Garnish with marshmallows and chocolate syrup.

 

Holiday Wanderings

I’ve been doing quite a bit of Christmas-y stuff the past week.  First, I put together gift tins full of goodies for my coworkers.  I made chocolate covered Oreos (Double Stuff, of course), cute little candy cane striped cups full of Christmas gummies, personalized stocking cookies, and a treat I found on Pinterest – Cinnamon Sugar White Chocolate Pretzels (or what I now refer to as Christmas Crack – it’s THAT good)!

Chocolate Covered Oreos

Cute Christmas tin I got at the dollar store!
Filled Tin
No calories there!

Stocking Cookies

I also went with a bunch of friends to see the Holiday Pops show.   Before the concert we had lunch at Max Brenner, where I had this lovely concoction:

Yummy drinks at Max Brenner!

This wasn’t the first time I got to have this drink, called Satisfaction Guaranteed, and it was every bit as good as I remembered!

After lunch we headed over to the Kimmel Center to see Peter Nero and the Philly Pops!

Holiday Pops Concert
Love the architecture at the Kimmel Center!

Once the show was over, we wandered around the city quite a bit.  We went to Love Park to check out the Christmas Village and the tree at City Hall (which was not actually at City Hall this year due to some construction mess).

Lights on Broad Street
City Hall tree, at Love PArk

All the walking made us hungry again and we ended up a my favorite restaurant, Jones, where I had some excellent baked mac and cheese.

Jones Restaurant, 7th and Chestnut

The next night I baked cookies with this candy cane sugar cookie dough made by Pillsbury.  I found it with the refrigerated doughs.  I dipped some of the cookies in melted dark chocolate, and drizzled the chocolate on others.  I also made some chocolate covered marshmallows and put it all together on a tray to take to work.

cookie tray

The cookies were really good, so I went looking for another package of the dough at the grocery store this morning but couldn’t find any. 😦  Bah humbug!

Last but not least, I headed over to Christmas Madness Central with my brother to take some pictures.

IMG_2206
Insanity!

I could hear their electric meters whirring from across the street, and I swear as you round the corner onto the street where these two houses are the air actually feels warmer.  I wonder if they can been seen from outer space…

So there’s a sample of what’s been keeping me busy the past few days!  Since the world didn’t end this morning I’ll probably be baking some more cookies today!  Hope everyone is enjoying all the fun this time of year has to offer!

It’s a Major Award!

One of my favorite Christmas movies (who am I kidding – they are ALL my favorite!) is A Christmas Story.  Every Christmas day, the 24 hour marathon is on all day in my house and I never get tired of hearing “Bumpuses!  Sons of bitches!”  So last year when I came across a leg lamp cookie cutter online, I knew I had to have it! Fra-gee-lay!

Last year’s cookie was kind of sloppy looking if you ask me.

Leg Lamp v1

I was just starting out with the cookie decorating, so it was understandable.  I had had a very bad experience making my own black royal icing so I used stuff from a tube, which was kind of gloppy and didn’t dry with the nice smooth finish of royal. In addition, I just didn’t have the steady hand that I have developed over the last year, so everything was kind of wobbly.  More like the glued together version of the leg lamp after it was “accidentally” broken!

Nonetheless, someone liked them enough to order a dozen from me this Christmas! (Thanks Nicki!)  Since she is going to be giving them to coworkers as gifts, I wanted to make sure they looked REALLY good.

I have solved the black icing issue, thanks to Americolor Super Black and learning that I should try starting out by tinting the icing brown first and THEN adding the black.  I decided to outline the whole cookie in black first.

Leg Lamp Outline

After that, I filled in the sections.

Leg Lamp Filled

I let this dry overnight before adding the fringe and the fishnet stocking detail.  For the fringe I used royal icing, but for the fishnet I went with a food safe, fine tip black marker.  I think the result is a big improvement over my first attempt!

Leg Lamp Cookie

Like I said, I wanted to go above and beyond with this order and I knew the finishing touch I needed to do just that. My friend over at Scrapsecrets makes the nicest greeting cards, gift card holders, gift tags, etc., so I emailed her and asked if she would be able to make some tags for me to use when I wrapped up the cookies.  I wanted a tag that looked like wood grain, with the word “FRAGILE” stamped on it.  Michele was just as excited as I was for the chance to do a little blog collaboration and of course, she delivered an amazing product!

Leg Lamps

The tags were EXACTLY what I had pictured in my head!  They came with a hole already punched for the ribbon, and I found some red ribbon in the $1 bin at A.C. Moore to use to attach the tags to the cookie bags.

Leg Lamp Cookies

I just love it when an idea comes together, and I want to thank Michele at Scrapsecrets for making the “FRAGILE” tags for me!  They were the perfect finishing touch that took the leg lamp from cute cookie, to awesome gift!  If you need a cute custom card, or perhaps some cookie tags don’t hesitate to check out her Etsy shop – she’s happy to do custom orders like mine!

If you are interested in making your own leg lamp cookies, you can buy the cookie cutter here.  If you are making these, be sure to add a healthy dusting of flour to your rolled out cookie dough before using the cutter to prevent the dough from getting all stuck in it.  I seem to recall digging dough out of the cutter with a butter knife the first time I tried to make these.

Lastly, I want to use this post as a little pep talk for any of you out there who may be starting out making your own decorated sugar cookies.  If your first few attempts don’t exactly come out the way you are hoping – you WILL get better with practice!  Just look at my last year’s cookie compared to the one I made this year.  I’d say my improvement is worthy of a major award!

Fra-gee-lay!

Not Quite The Night Before Christmas

Just two weeks before Christmas, and all through my blog

No cocktail has been shaken, not even some nog!

The Miracle of Egg Nog and Baileys
The Miracle of Egg Nog and Baileys (Photo credit: matthewhooper)

My mixer sits there all alone and forgotten;

The eggs in my fridge are probably rotten.

My sifter lies nestled so snug in its drawer;

I need to bake cupcakes so I can post more!

My presence on WordPress has been rather lacking.

There’s just so much to do – I need to get cracking!

Time has passed quickly since the first of December –

I have so much to do that it’s hard to remember!

I have plans for cupcakes in holiday flavors,

And goodies that hopefully my friends will savor.

But I still have shopping and wrapping to do,

And if it stops raining I need to put up my lights, too! (Seriously Mother Nature – I thought it was supposed to be 60 and sunny on Saturday?!)

christmas cookies
christmas cookies (Photo credit: Sabina Panayotova)

After that there’s an order of cookies to bake;

Maybe then I’ll come up with a cocktail to make.

Until I return with new photos to share,

I wrote you this poem so my blog is not bare!

 

Hope everyone is enjoying the holiday season!  I’ll be back soon – I promise!

The stress really got to Santa this year, so d...
The stress really got to Santa this year, so did the tequila. (Photo credit: formerperson)