A little late is better than never…and who doesn’t want to extend Christmas into January? Christmas in Baltimore was like a dream – we had several snows that were the perfect backdrop to my Christmas tree.
Fortunately, my landlord allowed me to have a live tree because the spirit of Christmas is just not the same without my tradition. The entire process was a little bittersweet this year because it was just me cutting the tree and decorating it, but it was a great way to celebrate my independence and know that I could be content with just me. I started the day with a long bike ride with my friend, Michelle, and ended up at a small tree farm out in the suburbs (NO idea where…when I go on these long bike rides, I just follow with absolutely no geographical clue). When I arrived at the tree farm and said I was there to cut down a tree (apparently in Maryland, they literally mean “cut your own” and provide a hand saw), the lady said, “Where is the rest of your party.” Mistake #1. It is JUST ME and I WILL cut down this tree. My mistake #1…turns out I cannot saw an 8′ tree to the ground.
Don’t I look amazing after 35 mile bike rides?! I was so determined to cut down this tree…but, it ended more like this…
When I brought the tree home, a certain “boy” was patiently waiting to bring it inside. AND, because my ceilings are actually 11′ tall, I was annoyed that I had chosen an 8′ tree…so, without complaint, he built a block foundation to elevate the tree to the perfect height. WOAH.
There were “Intoxicated Gingerbread Cupcakes” and “Magnolia Bakery Peanut Butter cookies” to celebrate, along with a Tacky Sweater Party.
Even the wine bottle had a sweater! The people in the photo are friends from church, but I was thrilled to have church friends, work friends, and friends I have met in my neighborhood here together for the party.
Here are the recipes – they both turned out delicious! And I truly think these are THE BEST peanut butter cookies ever. Who knows if they are really Magnolia Bakery’s recipe, but they are still amazing – and it came from Smitten Kitchen, so obviously has to be good!
NOTE: I did not use the chocolate chips in this recipe, but I think they would be even more amazing with them included!
Intoxicated Gingerbread Cupcakes
This recipe is from Kate Legere’s Intoxicated Cupcakes – hands down one of my favorite cookbooks. The cupcakes are all delicious and very unique!
1/2 cup Goldschlager
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup dark molasses
5 tbls unsalted butter, melted
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
FOR THE GLAZE:
2 tbls unsalted butter, melted
1/2 cups confectioners sugar, sifted
2 tbls Goldschlager
1. Preheat the oven to 350 F and line a cupcake pan with 12 liners.
2. Pour Goldschlager through a coffee filter, reserving gold bits for the glaze. Set aside.
3. In a medium bowl, sift flour, ginger, cinnamon, baking soda and salt.
4. In a large bowl, combine the sugar, buttermilk, molasses, melted butter, eggs and sieved Goldschlager. Add the flour mixture and stir until combined.
5. Divide batter evenly among cupcake liners and bake for 18 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool on wire race for 5 minutes, then remove from pan to cool completely.
6. Make the glaze: combine melted butter, sugar and Goldschlager. Drizzle the glaze over the cupcakes. Use a toothpick to scrape the captured gold from the coffee filter and add a touch to the top of each cupcake.
NOTE: I am WAY to cheap to buy an entire container of Goldschlager for cupcakes and I couldn’t find mini-bottles…so I substituted my newest liquor obsession…Bourbon! However, I highly recommend splurging for the Goldschlager because it’s fun! But, I do love Bourbon…
Additional highlight of the Christmas party that was also wildly successful at my parents’ Christmas Eve Party:
CRANBERRY AND PECAN BAKED BRIE
1 round wedge Brie cheese
1/4 c chopped pecans
1/4 c dried cranberries
1/8 c maple syrup
2/3 c brown sugar, packed
Preheat oven to 350 F. Drizzle a cast iron skillet with olive oil. Cut rind off of brie and place in skillet. Mix remaining ingredients together and spread over top of brie. Place in oven until Brie softens and melts slightly, approximately 10 minutes. Serve with pita chips (or if you’re feeling extra indulgent, ginger snaps!).