Christmas - the holiday that is one quarter decorations, one quarter gift-giving, and one half food. Think butter cookies decorated in colored icing, baked pies galore, raisin pudding, egg nog, roast turkey with mashed potatoes and gravy—all the seasonal dishes rarely seen during the rest of the year. Think spices: cinnamon, nutmeg, clove—all of them warm and cozy against your tongue; each heralding the arrival of Christmas.

While you most likely will not be savoring full course Christmas meals in your dorms nor enjoying any of the dishes mentioned above (busy as we are scrambling over final projects and exams as the semester draws to a close) you can make the most of your remaining weeks on campus by preparing some Christmas snacks for yourself. If you are going to be stuck on campus cramming for exams or laboring on projects anyways, why not make yourself comfortable while you're at it? Sate your Christmas cravings with a few simple recipes below. And I say "recipes" here as in vague lists of ingredients and instructions that should be taken with a grain of salt. Do not follow my words to the t; follow your taste. Also, when in doubt, google it for further reference. Refer to my recipes the way you adhere to your class schedules. Loosely. 

Finally, I hope you all have a microwave or a kettle at the very least. Enjoy!

Hot Chocolate

Not the Swiss Miss pre-packaged powder. Real hot chocolate fresh and steaming in a mug. Hand-made, in your dorm.

Buy unsweetened cocoa powder, powdered sugar, and whole milk. Also ground cinnamon, whipped cream from a can, and mini marshmallows if you are feeling festive. Oh, and don't forget to spend your leftover dining dollars at Gourmet Grocer while you're at it. Pick one spoon that you would like to use for measuring and mixing. Stick with it. When lacking actual measuring cups, consistency of volume, even if it is just a random spoon, is key. Using the spoon, scoop out equal parts cocoa powder to powdered sugar into a microwavable mug. I would recommend starting out with three scoops of each for a medium sized mug and scaling up or down from there. 

Pour in milk in intervals, stopping to stir with your spoon and to taste-test every time you've added two to three fingers' height's worth. Refrain from pouring too much in at once; watery hot chocolate is the worst. Remember, you can always add more, but you can't take it out. Once you have reached your desired consistency, microwave until hot. Take it out and top with whipped cream, marshmallows, and sprinkle with a pinch of ground cinnamon to top it all off. Make your roommate jealous while you take a sip and post on Instagram. 

Microwave Mug Christmas Sugar Cookies 

Weird? Yes. Worth it? Definitely.

Buy all purpose flour, one stick of butter, powdered sugar, vanilla extract, and Christmas sprinkles. Again, all of these ingredients can be found at Gourmet Grocer. Feel free to spend whatever extra dining dollars you might have. 

Choose a larger spoon this time. Aim for something with one tablespoon of volume when filled to the brim, or 15 milliliters. Using the a knife, or the side of your spoon if you don't have a knife, cut off two tablespoons of butter according to the markings on the butter's wrapping paper. Place in a wide microwave safe mug, and let sit at room temperature until softened enough to dent when lightly pressed with finger. Add in two leveled spoonfuls of sugar and stir. Take your spoon and stir the two together vigorously until the mixture turns white. This takes about five minutes, but will aerate the dough so that the resulting cookie won't end up as a hard dense mass. In short, do not skip this step.

Add in a dash of vanilla by plugging your thumb over the top of the bottle of vanilla extract until it leaves only slight opening and, gripping the bottle in your hand, turn upside down to shake downwards into the mug. One shake is enough; a little goes a long way. Wipe your spoon clean of butter and sugar before using to measure out four leveled spoonfuls of flour. Add in sprinkles half a spoon at a time, stopping when you feel the cookie looks overwhelmingly festive. Stir together until smooth. 

Using your spoon, smooth out the surface and edges of your cookie into an even line along the walls of the mug before microwaving on high for 3 to 4 minutes. The wattage of every microwave is different, so you will have to eyeball it as you go. Check for doneness by poking it all the way with a fork. The dough should feel stiff against your fingers. If wet dough sticks to the prongs, microwave it in 30 second intervals until when tested, the fork comes out clean. Let cool for five to ten minutes before digging in. 

Pat yourself on the back for successfully making a cookie with nothing but basic utensils, a mug, and a microwave. Alas, desperate times call for desperate measures—when you crave your Christmas desserts, you just got to have them. 


Comments

All comments eligible for publication in Daily Pennsylvanian, Inc. publications.