Simply Celebrate Life!
Polar Express Cocoa Bar
Try a Gingerbread Train for your next Polar Express party!
There’s no escaping the likes of a Polar Express party at our house this year! Our advent calendar has set a date and my daughter of course will not take no for an answer. So I began the fun part of planning it all and I’m pretty glad I stuck with it because my winter ideas were on a roll!
Making gingerbread houses are also a fun Christmas time tradition for our family, however this year I convinced my daughter to let us try and create a gingerbread train! It started out for Daddy( he works for Union Pacific Railroad) and it was a fun surprise for him and myself when the idea popped in mind that I could use the gingerbread train as a cocoa bar display.
I made three box cars and used those to store my marshmallows, chocolate spoons and cookies!
Believe it or not I made a paper template and did my best to turn my gingerbread dough into a train. I think it turned out great for a first time shot!
I’ve shared my gingerbread recipe at the end so be sure to try it out on your next gingerbread train!
I went with a white theme. I told Caitlyn we would keep it white for the party and then add assorted colored candies after. Well, Caitlyn said to me…”You know what mom, I think it looks great just like this. I don’t think we need to add anything else.” Score for me!
I tried real hard to just concentrate on decorating my train set up but I couldn’t help adding some fun to the dinner table.
I decided on blues since I already had plates and napkins on hand from last year’s after Christmas clearance sales. Sometimes those paper plates give you the perfect start for a fun theme.
I used a light blue paper napkin as a place mat and a dark blue dessert plate to top.
I brought my cocoa treats to each table setting, a white chocolate spoon and a white chocolate covered marshmallows with crushed blueberry candy cane sprinkles.
Well, since I added that much I needed a centerpiece right!
I dug into my Christmas decorations and pulled out some turquoise beads, pretty blue and white ornaments and of course bells.
I really like how it all turned out and I love when my family looks at the table and asks, “Whose this for?” I love saying, “For you!”
Here are those yummy recipes I tried and loved!
Snickerdoodle Popcorn with White Chocolate Drizzle
3 Tablespoons canola oil
1/3 cup fresh popcorn kernels
4 tablespoons melted butter
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon McCormick Gourmet Roasted Saigon Cinnamon
3/4 cup white chocolate chips
2-3 tablespoons heavy cream
1. Heat oil in Dutch oven or large pot over medium heat. When hot, add 1 popcorn kernel to test if hot enough, once kernel pops add remaining kernels and close pot with lid. Cook until popping stops about 1- 1 1/2 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl and drizzle with melted butter. Stir to coat all pieces. Place sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl and stir to combine, sprinkle over buttered popcorn, stirring to coat all pieces. Pour onto a parchment lined baking sheet.
2. Melt chocolate chips and heavy cream in double boiler until melted and smooth. Drizzle over popcorn and let harden, about 20-30 minutes. Transfer to bags or little popcorn boxes.
White Hot Chocolate
My family was iffy of trying a cup of white hot chocolate, so I tried one cup and they liked it, yet the traditional Hot Cocoa was preferred.
4 cups milk of choice (You can substitute half and half, heavy cream, or a mixture.)
1 tsp vanilla extract
8 oz. white chocolate, chopped into small pieces
Whipped Cream or marshmallows for topping
1. Stir together milk, chocolate and vanilla in small saucepan.
2. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until the white hot chocolate comes to a simmer. (Do not let it come to a boil.)
3.Remove from heat and serve immediately, topped with whipped cream or marshmallows if desired.
Hot Chocolate Cupcakes by Food Snots
These were yummy and I loved the look! So glad I tried cause we loved them! Thanks Food Snots for sharing!
2 cups all-purpose flour 1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda 2 eggs
1 teaspoon salt 1 1/2 cups sugar
1/4 teaspoon baking powder 3/4 cup shortening
1 cup hot water 2/3 cup unsweetened baking cocoa
3 cups powdered sugar 1 cup marshmallow crème
1/3 cup butter or margarine, softened 1 to 2 tablespoons milk
1/2 tablespoon vanilla
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Place paper baking cup in each of 24 regular-size muffin cups.
In medium bowl, mix flour, baking soda, salt and baking powder; set aside.
In small bowl, mix hot water and cocoa until dissolved; set aside.
In large bowl, beat shortening with electric mixer on medium speed 30 seconds. Gradually add sugar, about 1/4 cup at a time, beating well after each addition and scraping bowl occasionally. Beat 2 minutes longer.
Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in vanilla.
On low speed, alternately add flour mixture, about 1/3 of mixture at a time, and cocoa mixture, about 1/2 at a time, beating just until blended.
Divide batter evenly among muffin cups, filling each about 2/3 full.
Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pans 5 minutes. Remove cupcakes from pans; place on cooling racks to cool.
Meanwhile, prepare frosting by mixing powdered sugar and butter with spoon or electric mixer on low speed in a large bowl. Stir in vanilla and 1 tablespoons of the milk.
Stir in marshmallow creme.
If needed, gradually beat in just enough remaining milk to make frosting smooth and spreadable. Spoon into resealable food-storage plastic bag; seal bag. Cut tiny hole in one bottom corner of bag.
Pipe 3 small dollops of frosting mixture on top of each cupcake to resemble melted marshmallows. Sprinkle with cocoa.
White Chocolate Dipped Marshmallows
These super easy treats were Irelynn’s favorite!
White Chocolate Spoons and Chocolate Piroulines
Love when the Dollar Store has an awesome find. These chocolate rolled wafers were at the Dollar Store! However, when I went back for more, they were of course gone! Oh well, next time I will buy them all!
Sometimes you don’t need an invite list! My most important guests are right before my eyes and I love making them happy with my crazy party ideas!
I think daddy secretly loves it too!
Caitlyn and Grandpa!
This is the recipe I use every year from scratch and it never fails so here it is so you can try for your next gingerbread train adventure!
5 cups flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
4 tsp ground ginger
4 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground clove allspice
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 sticks(12tbl) butter, softened
1 1/2 c packed brown sugar
2 lrg eggs
1 cup molasses
1 tbl water
Whisk together dry ingredients, set aside. Using an electric mixer beat butter and brown sugar until fluffy. Beat in eggs, molasses and water until well combined. Beat 1/2 of the flour mixture into molasses mixture. Stir in remaining flour mixture. Knead with machines dough hook or on floured surface. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours. Can be made up to 3 day ahead.
Preheat oven to 350. Roll out 1/2 of dough to 1/4 inch thick . Cut out your house shapes, place on greased cookie sheet and bake for 15 – 20 minutes.
2 lrg egg whites
2 2/3 cup powdered sugar
Whisk together egg whites and 1 1/3 cups of the powdered sugar until well blended. Add remaining 1 1/3 cups of powdered sugar and beat on high until stiff peak forms.