For several years, I supervised the front end at a local Target store. This means that I had to keep track of all the cashiers, cart attendants and service desk folks. One of the things that chapped my hide each and every year was the Thanksgiving and Christmas "feeds". These were always held in the back of the store in the employee break room, and whoever catered it always seemed to use the finest grade cardboard. Every employee in the building could go back there and pig out (and they did)... except for my folks up front. All the employees up front can't take breaks on a whim; each one is scheduled and always at the beck and call of customer traffic. If we were getting slammed up front, no one got a break, so by the time that my folks could manage to stagger back to the break room, they were lucky if a few crumbs were left.
That didn't set well with me. At. All. I had employees working as fast as they could go, and doing a great job, yet they weren't being rewarded with the free food. I decided to do something about it. I came up with the idea of a Christmas Eve feast held in a room that had restricted access directly in front of the checkouts. I baked up a storm, bought gallons of egg nog, bottles of fruit juice, water and other drinks, and loaded up my Christmas serving items and linens. I took it all to that room, and decorated everything that didn't move. There were plenty of paper plates, napkins, and plastic eating utensils, and all the food was set up in a gigantic buffet line.
And... the only people allowed in the room were my folks up front. It was a success that first year, and it just kept growing until I was at the store at 4 AM on Christmas Eve to get everything set up. As a morale booster and as a way to show appreciation, it couldn't be beat.
I thought I would share some of my most successful recipes for my annual Christmas Eve feeds. First up is a recipe for Black Bottom Cupcakes. They keep in the freezer forever, and they travel exceptionally well, since they don't have icing. (They're so good they don't need it!)
Black Bottom Cupcake Recipe
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 1/3 cups sugar
6 ounces mini semi- sweet chocolate chips (regular-sized works fine too)
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup cocoa
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup water
1/3 cup cooking oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 Tablespoon vinegar (white or apple cider vinegar will work)
1 teaspoon vanilla
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line muffin tins with paper liners (to total 24).
- In a small mixing bowl combine softened cream cheese, egg, 1/3 cup sugar, and pinch of salt. Beat well. Stir in chocolate chips. Set aside.
- In a large mixing bowl, whisk flour, 1 cup sugar, cocoa, baking soda, and 1/2 teaspoon salt.
- In a glass measuring cup or another bowl, combine water, oil, vinegar and vanilla. Then add to dry ingredients. Mix well.
- Fill paper-lined muffin tins 1/3 full with chocolate batter (I use an medium ice cream scoop to do this) then top with a heaping spoonful of cream cheese mixture (I use a small ice cream scoop to do this).
- Bake at 350 degrees for 30-35 minutes.
- When fully cooled, store in an air tight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days or in the freezer for around 3 months.
If you want to see what other Weekend Cooks are up to, click on the Weekend Cooking logo at the top of this post to be taken right to the heart of the action: Beth Fish Reads. Thanks for this fun meme, Beth!