About a month ago, me and my brain-twin Sami went to go see Harry Potter & The Deathly Hallows, Part 1. Before she arrived in Manhattan, I went to Starbucks and grabbed a peppermint hot chocolate to drink while I wait, since it was so cold. When she got there, she asked me what I was drinking, so I told her, and she said that was her favorite too, and asked me if I was having an “HCM.” I was totally confused for a few seconds until she told me it stood for “Hot Cocoa Moment” and that her husband Scott was a fan of the term. It sounded so funny & Hallmark-y to me, I knew I’d be using the term myself for a long time. Besides, how can you go wrong with acronyms?
To tie that in with this post, a few weeks before that, I was reading Jay’s mother’s Family Circle magazine and saw a recipe for hot chocolate cupcakes. So I stole borrowed the magazine to take it home and make a photocopy of the recipe. I actually have no idea if Jay ever gave it back to her like I asked him to, so if not, I’m sorry Marilyn.
So anyway, put together HCM and these cupcakes and what do you get? HCCM- hot cocoa cupcake moment. I took Scott’s idea and just ran with it, using it for my own purposes. Muahahaha….
Okay, I realize that was a long intro for cupcakes, but they’re worth it. I mean, hot chocolate cupcakes? Does it get any better, especially for Christmas? I put a different spin on these, going with a silvery and white snow theme instead of the usual red/green. I think they look pretty awesome; those silver tree toppers are from Yoyo, she got ’em for me at sweet estelle’s; silver dragees from Sur La Table, blue & white sugar crystals from… no idea.
(Elf not included)
I thought snow and hot cocoa just went perfectly together.
HOT CHOCOLATE CUPCAKES
- 1 cup all purpose flour
- ¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1/8 teaspoon baking soda
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ½ cup milk
- In medium sized bowl, combine four, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt.
- In a large bowl, with mixer on medium-high speed, beat butter and sugar until smooth and creamy (two minutes). Beat in eggs and vanilla until fluffy, 1 minute. On low speed, beat in flour mixture alternately with milk, beginning and ending with flour mixture.
- Fill each cupcake liner 2/3 full (about 3 tablespoons per liner).
- Bake at 350 F for 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove from pan to wire rack to cool.
First you get:
- ¼ cup unsalted butter, softened
- 1 (7½ ounce) jar Fluff, or similar marshmallow cream
- 3-4 cups confectioners’ sugar
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
Then you’re gonna:
- Beat butter in a large bowl with mixer on high speed until creamy. Beat in marshmallow cream. Reduce speed to low, and beat in confectioners’ sugar and vanilla. Increase speed to high; beat until fluffy.
- Frost cooled cupcakes.
I added a little milk to make my frosting softer, like melting snow. Another cute decorating option is to use mini marshmallows and mini candy canes on top, like a mug of hot cocoa in cupcake form.
Last week I made red velvet mini-cupcakes with frosting wreaths on top. The frosting is Italian meringue buttercream, and the cupcake recipe is the same one I’ve made a million times before, Magnolia Bakery’s version. Bright red & usually very moist (these didn’t come out that great texturally, maybe because I was rushing, maybe because I was just making them for the sake of making them, who knows- but they just didn’t work out taste-wise this time) & just generally perfect. But not this time. Not for me. Also, my bows came out sort of messy. Eh. Oh well. In case you’re wondering: the wreath is green tinted frosting put on with tip #21; the bows are yellow tinted frosting put on with #102- both tips are by Wilton. I used silver dragees and red sprinkle-y things for the decorations on the wreath. You could also use royal icing for the wreaths and bows, I did not because I used up all my confectioner’s sugar making shortbread cookies. For the extras, I just frosted them and used red sugar on top. And don’t let my issues with the recipe this time fool you; the recipe is the best red velvet ever. I quartered the recipe and got 24 mini-cupcakes.
I used yellow ribbons on the wreaths for our troops. Yellow ribbons to remember them, those who’ve passed away, those still fighting today & those who’ve fought in any war; especially during this season. It makes me really sad that so many people don’t care/don’t think about them.
And on that note… I’d like to share with you a story that every year makes me a big mushball. It’s the story of Virginia O’Hanlon, a little girl from the Upper West Side in Manhattan asked her father, Phillip, a coroner’s assistant, if there was really a Santa Claus. Her father told her that she should as The Sun, which was a popular newspaper at the time, stating “If you see it in The Sun, it’s so.” So she wrote that letter in 1897, and it just so happens it was read by the editor. The Editor of the paper, Francis Pharcellus Church, was a war correspondent during the Civil War, and had seen much of the worst of man & society. Taking the opportunity to rise above the question itself and make a commentary on the philosophical issues behind it.
Some people really get it. Yoyo gets it. Other people I know really get it. But most don’t. Santa Claus is a concept. A concept that takes us through our whole life. Be kind, be good, be generous. Give to others without thinking of yourself. Give a dollar and some change to the man sleeping on the street; that dollar won’t even get you a Starbucks, but it can get him a burger at McDonald’s. Santa Claus isn’t an idea just for children; it’s something all us “grown-ups” can benefit from believing in and acting on.
So here I present to you Virginia’s letter, and the response from Mr. Church. Merry Christmas!
I am 8 years old. Some of my little friends say there is no Santa Claus. Papa says, ‘If you see it in THE SUN it’s so.’ Please tell me the truth; is there a Santa Claus?
115 WEST NINETY-FIFTH STREET.
VIRGINIA, your little friends are wrong.
They have been affected by the skepticism of a skeptical age. They do not believe except [what] they see. They think that nothing can be which is not comprehensible by their little minds. All minds, Virginia, whether they be men’s or children’s, are little. In this great universe of ours man is a mere insect, an ant, in his intellect, as compared with the boundless world about him, as measured by the intelligence capable of grasping the whole of truth and knowledge.
Yes, VIRGINIA, there is a Santa Claus. He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy. Alas! how dreary would be the world if there were no Santa Claus. It would be as dreary as if there were no VIRGINIAS. There would be no childlike faith then, no poetry, no romance to make tolerable this existence. We should have no enjoyment, except in sense and sight. The eternal light with which childhood fills the world would be extinguished.
Not believe in Santa Claus! You might as well not believe in fairies! You might get your papa to hire men to watch in all the chimneys on Christmas Eve to catch Santa Claus, but even if they did not see Santa Claus coming down, what would that prove? Nobody sees Santa Claus, but that is no sign that there is no Santa Claus. The most real things in the world are those that neither children nor men can see. Did you ever see fairies dancing on the lawn? Of course not, but that’s no proof that they are not there. Nobody can conceive or imagine all the wonders there are unseen and unseeable in the world.
You may tear apart the baby’s rattle and see what makes the noise inside, but there is a veil covering the unseen world which not the strongest man, nor even the united strength of all the strongest men that ever lived, could tear apart. Only faith, fancy, poetry, love, romance, can push aside that curtain and view and picture the supernal beauty and glory beyond. Is it all real? Ah, VIRGINIA, in all this world there is nothing else real and abiding.
No Santa Claus! Thank God! he lives, and he lives forever. A thousand years from now, Virginia, nay, ten times ten thousand years from now, he will continue to make glad the heart of childhood.