This week I have been a buzz with holiday party planning. Last year would have been my first holiday party with my new co-workers in Parksville, but C’s party was the same day and we went to his instead. This year there was talk of where to host the holiday party and I offered our place. You see, C and I have been dating for four years now and have so far, spent every Christmas apart. I visit my family in Victoria and he visits his family in Vancouver. So what’s the point of decorating when you aren’t going to be around to enjoy it, ever?
Well, this year, we’ve done two things to change that. One, we’ve decided to start alternating families and holidays so that we can spend them together … yay! Two, I decided hosting a holiday party would be the best reason for me to get my decorations out that have been in boxes for the last 3 years.
I will be honest, I was a bit nervous, as if my name is associated with the party no one tends to show up. It’s a curse. It can be my idea, and I can help plan it, but if it’s at my house it tends to bomb. So having the holiday party at my place could go horribly wrong, but I think it went all right. Everyone at work complimented me on the party today, without any provocation so that is usually a good sign.
I was a bundle of nerves up until people started showing up, but it was fun. I conveniently purchased a groupon for an 8-hour fall detox session with Four Season’s cleaning services in Nanaimo and used it the day before the party. They did an excellent job of cleaning the place, and I’m very happy with them. I wish I could afford them on a regular basis, but the groupon was probably a one-time deal for now. Having the place professionally cleaned the day before helped ease up a bunch of pressure.
So that morning/afternoon I spent most of my time in the kitchen and setting up. I made a yummy cheese ball recipe, but it was from the recipe that came with my dehydrated smoked chanterelles from Salt Spring Island, so I can’t really repost it here. I did try to make it look like a pinecone though. Do you think it worked? Then I decided to make a peppermint chocolate cake. I got the idea from yet another raw uncooking class I took at the Rawthentic Eatery with their delicious dessert class last week. Unfortunately I spaced on one of the ingredients, so stead of making the peppermint patties I thought I would turn my Betty Crocker gluten free white cake box into something a little more glamorous. Of course, I could have started making things easier on myself by buying the chocolate cake mix to start with, but I was too lazy to go out to the store. So I manipulated the white cake I had on hand. It turned out quite tasty with a bonus of making your breath fresh after eating it as well!
One other thing I did when setting up for the party was to set up a backdrop in the guest room for Christmas photos. Not that many people took me up on it, but those that did seemed to have fun with it and they got a nice ‘couple’ shot out of it. Next time I do need to work on my lighting though! Here is one of me with the red backdrop. I made black and white versions that looked much better :)
Chocolate Peppermint Cake with Candy Cane Icing
1 Box of Betty Crocker's Gluten Free White Cake Mix
1 Cup gf Cocoa Powder, sifted
1 Teaspoon Pure Vanilla Extract
2 Teaspoons Peppermint Extract
2/3 Cup of Water
1/2 Cup Butter, softened
1/2 Butter, softened
4 Cups Icing Sugar
4 Teaspoons of Water
1/2 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract
1/2 Teaspoon Peppermint Extract
handful of Peppermint Candy Canes
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Make cake mix according to directions, only adding the extra egg (box calls for 3), peppermint extract and sifted cocoa powder in addition to the box directions. Pour into greased baking dish and follow baking times on box. Remove cake from oven and place on wire rack to cool for 5 minutes, then flip over and remove from pan and continue to cool.
While cake is cooling, through the candy canes into a food processor and process until they are fine chunks. That my be an oxymoron but that's what you're looking for! Then in a large mixing bowl add 1 cup of icing sugar at a time to the softened butter until all of the icing sugar is well mixed. Add remaining water and extracts and mix well. Then add crushed candy canes and stir well. Now you may ice your cake and enjoy this mouth watering and refreshingly yummy dessert.