Holidays on Ice | Cinnamon Eggnog & Bourbon Cupcakes
"The approach of Christmas signifies three things: bad movies, unforgivable television, and even worse theater."
So far all of my Christmas posts have been pretty tame, but not all holiday stories are wholesome and filled with sugar plums. Enter David Sedaris' "Holidays on Ice," a collection of holiday-themed essays, both fiction and nonfiction, that gives us a more realistic view of the season from the foul mouthed, pithy narrator.
One of the most talked about essays from this collection is "The SantaLand Diaries," where we see Sedaris in his forties and working as an elf in a department store in order to pay off his student loans. This job gives him a good view of the insanity brought on by the holidays, from overly enthusiastic mall employees, to grumpy and insulting mall shoppers, to bratty children waiting to see Santa.
Another great one is "Dinah, the Christmas Whore." In this essay, Sedaris is a high school student working after-school in a Piccadilly's cafeteria, alongside a lot of former convicts. His sister, who is working a similar job in the same shopping center, makes friends with an older woman, Dinah, who calls on her late one night for an unusual favor, that leads to the entire Sedaris clan meeting this woman in their kitchen that same evening. Sedaris is surprised when his mother, who he is sure is going to kick this woman out into the cold once she learns she's a whore, actually says, "We better pour her a drink then."
The fiction essays is this collection give an even more ridiculous look into our holiday traditions. There's a spoof of one of those classic family bulletins, this time alerting the family that a baby has mysteriously expired in a washing machine, a seething review of an elementary school Nativity play and “Christmas Means Giving,” the story of a competitive couple who donate their vital organs in an effort to one-up their neighbor’s charitable giving.
These essays certainly don't filter things through green and gold 'everything is okay because it's Christmas' lens. But Sedaris does an excellent job of wading through the bullshit (and calling it bullshit in the process) to find a grain of truth in each story, something still shiny and bright to hang on to.
If your holidays are going to be anything like the holidays depicted in Sedaris' work, you're going to need a drink. But if you don't want your twice removed aunt to call attention to the fact that you've had way more eggnog that you can handle, disguise your booze in cupcake form: cinnamon eggnog and bourbon cupcakes, topped with a spiced bourbon buttercream frosting. Merry freakin’ Christmas!
Cinnamon Eggnog & Bourbon Cupcakes:
1⅓ cup all-purpose flour
¼ tsp baking soda
½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp nutmeg
½ tsp cinnamon
⅓ cup bourbon whiskey (I used Jim Beam.)
1¼ cup cinnamon eggnog (I couldn't find eggnog already flavored with cinnamon, so I took some pre-made eggnog and added cinnamon until I could taste it. *insert Kanye shrug here)
¼ cup canola oil
1 tbsp vinegar
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup sugar
Spiced Bourbon Buttercream:
4 oz cream cheese, room temperature
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 lb + 1 cup powdered sugar
2 tbsp bourbon whiskey
⅛ tsp cinnamon
1-2 tbsp (more or less) cinnamon eggnog
⅛ tsp salt
nutmeg (optional garnish)
1. Whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, nutmeg and cinnamon. Set aside.
2. Beat together bourbon, eggnog, oil, vinegar, vanilla and sugar until smooth.
3. Add the flour and mix until incorporated. Remember to stop and scrape the sides if needed!
4. Fill cupcake liners and bake at 350 F degrees for 18-20 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.
5. Allow to cool in the pan for 3-4 minutes until removing to a wire rack to cool completely.
6. Now for the spiced bourbon buttercream! Cream together the cream cheese and butter until smooth.
7. Add half the powdered sugar slowly, about one half cup at a time, and beat until smooth after each addition.
8. Add the whiskey and beat until combined.
9. Sprinkle in the cinnamon and mix until incorporated.
10. Add the remaining powdered sugar slowly (again, about one half cup at a time) and beat until smooth.
11. Add the eggnog until you get the perfect consistency.
12. Mix in the salt and beat for another 30 seconds.
13. Frost each cupcake and sprinkle with nutmeg to garnish.
“It make one's mouth hurt to speak with such forced merriment.”
“But instead I am applying for a job as an elf. Even worse than applying is the very real possibility that I will not be hired, that I couldn't even find work as an elf. That's when you know you're a failure.”
“I said that Santa no longer traffics in coal. Instead, if you’re bad he comes to your house and steals things.”
“The only bright spot in the entire evening was the presence of Kevin "Tubby" Matchwell, the eleven-year-old porker who tackled the role of Santa with a beguiling authenticity. The false beard tended to muffle his speech, but they could hear his chafing thighs all the way to the North Pole.”
“Remember that the most important thing is to try and love other people as much as they love you.”