Saturday, November 21, 2009

Weekend Cooking, Christmas Goodies #1

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 egg
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

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line muffin tins with paper liners (to total 24).
  2. 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.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, whisk flour, 1 cup sugar, cocoa, baking soda, and 1/2 teaspoon salt.
  4. In a glass measuring cup or another bowl, combine water, oil, vinegar and vanilla. Then add to dry ingredients. Mix well.
  5. 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).
  6. Bake at 350 degrees for 30-35 minutes.
  7. 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!


  1. I love this story. It reminds me of my working days and all the ways we tried to show employees our appreciation for their hard work. Food was always a winner. I'm going to copy your recipe and give it a try.

  2. I've never heard of Black Bottom cakes - I thought it was a dance maybe. But I love the idea of trying your recipe, and I will dance when I make it.

  3. I always knew you were the best. What a wonderful gift you gave your employees. Wow.

    And these cupcakes look so good and so easy. I like that they can be frozen. Thanks!!

  4. It's always nice to know there are managers out there who care about their employees. Your cupcakes look and sound delicious.

  5. I have always found that nothing boost employee morale better than free food. That was very nice...and smart..of you.

    those cupcakes sound excellent.

  6. These sound delicious. I'm going to try making them! The front end people are lucky to have you as a boss - great story.

  7. It's great when poeple are appreciated.
    Great recipe - I love things I can freeze, especailly over Xmas ;0)

  8. Margot JR-- I think one of the things that impressed them most was that I also went all-out with the decorations as well. I didn't just toss a couple of plates of food on a table I'd just cleared all the paperwork from. When you walked into that room,it sang CHRISTMAS. I certainly hope you enjoy the cupcakes!

    Susan-- There is a dance called the Black Bottom. It was popular in the 1920s. I'm not sure what the date on the recipe is, though! Please have someone take a photo while you're dancing and baking. I want to see! :)

    Beth-- You're welcome!

    Kathy-- If a plate of those cupcakes mysteriously appeared right in front of my nose, they'd be wolfed down right quick! LOL

    Caite-- The cupcakes are very delish! :)

    JoAnn-- I haven't been "boss" up there for years, but thank you! If you do make these cupcakes, stop back by and let us know how they turned out!

    Lynda-- The freezing bit does come in handy because it meant that I could bake ahead of time. As the weeks progress, you'll hear more of what was involved with my Christmas Eve feasts. Thanks for stopping by!

  9. Uh - best boss ever! Anyone who feeds their staff cream cheese infused cupcakes is tops in my book.

  10. These look wonderful! I starred your post so I could come back to it later.

  11. Molly-- Cream cheese fan, I take it?

    Melissa-- I hope you give them a try!


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