Christmas spirit in a jar.
Need a last-minute gift? At this point, it’s really last-minute. As in, Amazon won’t even deliver for $100 in priority postage. As in, you’re apt to end up fighting over the last Tickle Me Elmo doll (yes, I realize this dates me) at Toys “R” Us fifteen minutes before the store closes. As in, you will get through the entire Celine Dion Christmas CD as you sit in traffic on the off-ramp to the mall.
This was sort of a last-minute gift for me. A friend who recently moved to Ventura, CA, was back in town for a week and I am terrible at figuring out what to give guys. Every year, my father gets – surprise! Another book! My friend and his family have been taste-testers for my baked goods for years, but I didn’t think that brownies would survive the trip through the Postal Service. So I opted for the next best thing: brownie mix in a jar. It’s not quite as easy as a box mix – reportedly, the Betty Crocker people had a mix designed that only required the addition of water, but scaled it back when their focus groups pointed out that adding eggs and oil made them feel like “real” bakers – but it’s a lot easier than driving down to California to bake brownies in someone else’s oven. It’s billed as a triple-chocolate brownie mix even though “white chocolate” doesn’t have any cocoa solids in it at all, just cocoa butter, sugar, and milk. But I think the “triple chocolate” name is catchy, and as someone who didn’t like milk or dark chocolate as a kid (I was weird, I know), I still consider white chocolate to be “real.”
Unlike most people, my family has its big holiday celebration on Christmas Eve. As a kid, Christmas Day was kind of a letdown – we’d open our stockings in the morning, but after that it was a lot of sitting around and waiting for Mom to put together the Barbie Dreamhouse or Dad to figure out that the batteries for Baby Alive (still known as “Baby Dead” in our house) had to go in backwards for her to work.
I still have a handful of Christmas recipes queued up that, true to form, I didn’t get around to posting before the big day. For now, I am going to eat some ham and open some of the boxes under the tree.