We got our Christmas tree last Friday! Yes, you heard that right. Friday, as in, “the day after Thanksgiving.” We’ve done this for several years now because the place where we go to cut it down is only open (for sure) on that weekend. It’s run by two older couples who keep it open only as long as they feel like it, which is usually one weekend and once in awhile two. It’s the only U-Cut place around here that still has trees as tall as we like them. I think ours is about 12′ tall this year.
In years past, we used to always get our tree with another family. We did that when our kids were all young and scampering up and down the rows of trees together. Now, with the exception of our daughter, who is 15, all the rest of those kids are adults — some married, some about to be married, some with children of their own. There’s been one other painful change: our friends divorced last year. I still catch myself thinking of them as a twosome, which is hard to get over.
We hadn’t gotten our tree together for the last ten years or so, but this year, we revived our tradition. Our now-single friend and all three of her children (and their children) joined us out in Granite Falls. After finding our trees, the 14 of us came back to our house for a dinner of turkey chowder, rosemary French bread, salad, and the only dessert I could possibly make: Black-Bottom Cupcakes, a long-ago favorite of my friend’s children.
They’re really pretty delicious, and not at all hard to make. If you REALLY want to make it easy on yourself, you can just use a Devil’s Food cake mix and prepare according to the directions, then add the filling. Really. And I’ll bet no one will know the difference. But if you want to do it all from scratch, here’s what you do:
- 2 cups flour
- 2 cups sugar
- 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1 cup vegetable oil
- 1 cup hot coffee
- 1 cup milk
- 2 large eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
Mix dry ingredients together. Add oil, coffee and milk. Beat for two minutes. Add eggs and vanilla and mix just until smooth (batter will be pretty thin). Line muffin tins with cupcake holders and fill just a tad over halfway with batter.
For the Filling:
- 8 oz cream cheese, softened
- 1 egg
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 3/4 cup mini chocolate chips
Cream the first three ingredients together, then add mini chocolate chips. Drop a tablespoonful of this mixture on top of each cupcake–don’t skimp, or you’ll find yourself with leftover filling which you will be compelled to divvy up among the cupcakes later. Might as well use it up on the first go-round, don’t ya think?
Bake cupcakes in a 325 oven for 25 minutes for regular-sized cupcakes; 10 minutes for minis. I made 15 regulars and 24 minis out of one batch of batter/filling.
P.S. These are aMAZing with a little dollop of real whipped cream on top. But they’re pretty amazing even without.
Because of the cream cheese, be sure to store these in the fridge if they are not inhaled immediately … which they probably will be.