(Featured Recipe: Chocolate Cups with Cranberry Crème)
Christmas in July
Who else likes the idea of Christmas in July? And what exactly is Christmas in July? There are different stories about how the Christmas in July tradition began. In the early 1940s, the pastor and congregation of Calvary Baptist Church in Washington, DC celebrated Christmas in the month of July with carols and the sermon “Christmas Presents in July”.¹ They would also put up a Christmas tree which they covered with donations. The pastor had brought this tradition with him from his former church in Philadelphia, which held a Christmas program each summer to collect gifts early enough to be able to distribute them through their worldwide missions. They began to broadcast the special service on local radio in 1945.²
Celebrating a July Christmas on Opposite Sides of the World
In the Southern Hemisphere, seasons are in reverse to the Northern Hemisphere- so winter falls in June, July and August in countries like Australia, New Zealand, Madagascar, Bolivia, Paraguay, Samoa and South Africa. In these Southern Hemisphere countries, Christmas in July (or Midwinter Christmas) events are carried out in order to celebrate a Christmas that has a winter feel like those countries in the Northern Hemisphere, which celebrate Christmas on December 25.³ ⁴ ⁵
There are some of us on the Northern Hemisphere side who mimic the celebrations of those in countries such as Australia and New Zealand by celebrating Christmas in July as well. I don’t go all out with a Christmas party and gifts, but I view it as an official countdown to Christmas…ONLY 5 Months Away! Christmas in July gives me an excuse to play lots of Christmas songs- instead of having to wait until the holiday season- and to watch some of my favorite and most memorable Christmas movies. The one movie that I play every July and December is While You Were Sleeping. This movie stars Sandra Bullock and is one of my absolute favorites. I also tune in to the Hallmark Channel and TCT Network to watch their July lineup of wonderful Christmas movies.
My Christmas in July Desserts
Chocolate Cups with Cranberry Crème are my festive Christmas in July desserts. These chocolate cups make a fantastic summer and winter dessert. In the recipe, I use two food items – cranberry sauce and graham crackers- that I associate with the holiday season to make a dessert with a flavorful combination of simple ingredients.
When I think of the sweet pastries and confections served at parties during the holiday season, I can always recall being able to spot several desserts made with graham crackers or graham cracker crusts. Whether they were s’more, coconut cream and chocolate pies with a graham cracker crust or cheesecakes and candy- everyone looked forward to helping themselves to a portion. Also, at these holiday parties and gatherings, there’s cranberry sauce and cranberry desserts galore. And, of course, there’s CHOCOLATE!
I use chocolate, graham crackers and cranberries in my recipe and combine them to make sweet pleasurable hand-held treats. They are a wonderful dessert for the holidays and perfect to cool off with during the summer, which makes them an excellent choice for a Christmas in July dessert. And, they can be made ahead of time and placed in the freezer. All you need to do is wrap each cup individually in plastic wrap then place in a resealable freezer bag. They can be stored in the freezer for up to three months. When you’re ready to serve them, just thaw the cups in the refrigerator for about 20 minutes and enjoy.
The variations of this recipe include Cranberry Crème (Slightly Sweeter Version), Cranberry Crème with Neufchâtel Cheese, Cranberry Crème Parfaits, and Chocolate Cups with Cranberry Crème (Vegan).
|CHOCOLATE CUPS WITH CRANBERRY CREME
Recipe By Shirell Dalton, The Simple Chocolatier
Active Time: 47 minutes Yields about 6 large cups or 8 small chocolate cups
Chocolate Cups (White Chocolate):
1 cup white chocolate (baking bars), roughly chopped into small pieces (or use 1 cup Trader Joe’s White Chocolate Baking Chips)
1/2 tablespoon coconut oil
Graham Cracker Crumbs:
1 cup graham crackers, crumbled – see note below
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted (optional)
1 (10 ounces) container natural whipped topping- see note below
1/4 cup frozen cranberry juice concentrate, thawed – see note below
1 (14 ounces) can cranberry sauce (use 1/2 cup for the cranberry crème and 1 to 2 teaspoons to partially fill each chocolate cup) – see note below
Toppings (optional): whole or halved cranberries, chocolate dipped cranberries, graham cracker crumbs, or chocolate curls and shavings
To make the Chocolate Cups (White Chocolate)– In a dry microwave-safe glass or ceramic bowl, combine the white chocolate and add the coconut oil. Place in the microwave for 20 seconds then remove and stir with a dry wooden spoon or rubber spatula (no metal); repeat this process at shorter intervals, stirring every 10-15 seconds. Once the pieces are mostly melted (the remaining bits will melt in the residual heat), remove from the microwave and stir until chocolate is completely melted and smooth.
Use silicone baking cups (or plastic molds) for the chocolate cups. Pour chocolate into the silicone cups and swirl or spread around. Turn the silicone cups upside down and tilt from side to side in order to evenly coat (or use a mini rubber or silicone spatula to spread the chocolate around bottom and sides of the cups). Allow any excess chocolate to drip onto wax paper so it can be reused. Wipe off any chocolate that dripped onto the outside rim of the cups. Place the cups (right–side up) into the refrigerator or freezer to set. Once the chocolate has become partially set, add another coat of chocolate. Place in the refrigerator or freezer until the chocolate is completely set.
Remove the chocolate from the silicone cups by carefully pulling back the sides of the silicone cups and pushing upwards to release the chocolate. Place the chocolate cups on a wax or parchment paper lined plate or tray. Return to the refrigerator until ready to fill.
Graham Cracker Crumbs– Place a few graham crackers in a gallon size food storage bag then use a rolling pin to crush the crackers. Pour the crumbs into a bowl. If you prefer, stir melted butter into the graham cracker crumbs for added flavor and moistness. You can also find homemade graham cracker recipes online that are very simple to make. They can be easily made and stored in the freezer until ready to use.
Cranberry Crème– In a medium bowl, gently fold the 1/4 cup of juice concentrate and 1/2 cup of cranberry sauce (mash the cranberry sauce before adding) into the whipped topping. Place in the refrigerator until ready to use.
Remove the chocolate cups from the refrigerator to begin layering the flavors. Add 1 to 2 teaspoons of graham crackers to the bottom of the chocolate cups. Then add about 1 to 2 teaspoons of cranberry sauce on top of the graham cracker crumbs in each cup. Next pipe or spoon the cranberry crème into each cup. Fill each chocolate cup to, or above, the rim with the cranberry crème. If you prefer, you can finish your Chocolate Cups with Cranberry Crème with any of the toppings listed.
Note: I don’t recommend using whipped topping, cranberry sauce or juice concentrate that contains high fructose corn syrup. High fructose corn syrup will make your dessert too sweet; it will give it a very unnaturally sweet flavor. I recommend using Old Orchard Frozen 100% Juice Cranberry Blend (concentrated) and truwhip the natural whipped topping. These products are sold at Walmart stores. The 365 Organic Whole Berry Cranberry Sauce and 365 Organic Graham Crackers are sold at Whole Foods Market.
Cranberry Crème (Slightly Sweeter Version)– In a medium bowl, gently fold the 1/2 cup of sweetened condensed milk into the whipped topping. Next gently fold in the 1/4 cup of juice concentrate and 1/2 cup of cranberry sauce.
Cranberry Crème with Neufchâtel Cheese– Add 4 ounces of softened Neufchâtel cheese to a medium bowl. Gently fold the whipped topping into the Neufchâtel cheese. Then gently fold in the 1/4 cup of juice concentrate and 1/2 cup of cranberry sauce.
Cranberry Crème Parfaits– In a serving dish, layer the cranberry crème with ingredients like granola, chocolate chunks, coconut, fruit and nuts- or your favorite homemade or store-bought pudding. Alternate layers of cranberry crème with whichever of these ingredients or other ingredients you prefer.
Chocolate Cups with Cranberry Crème (Vegan)– For this recipe, use 1 (9 ounces) container of So Delicious CocoWhip Coconut Whipped Topping. Gently fold 3 tablespoons of the juice concentrate (or use 2 tablespoons for a slightly firmer crème) and 1/2 cup of cranberry sauce into the whipped topping. For the chocolate cups, use 1 cup of Enjoy Life Dark Chocolate Morsels and 1 tablespoon of coconut oil instead. Also, omit the graham crackers crumbs from the recipe- or substitute with your favorite dairy-free cookies.
Dark or Milk Chocolate: The chocolate cups in this recipe can also be made using bittersweet, semi-sweet or milk chocolate chips. For 1 cup of bittersweet or semi-sweet chocolate chips (or a combination of both), use 1 tablespoon of coconut oil instead.
Recipes developed by Shirell Dalton – The Simple Chocolatier Copyright ©2015 Shirell Dalton, All Rights Reserved
1. “Christmas in July Theme of Calvary Church Service”, The Washington Post, July 11, 1942, p. 6.
2. “Calvary Baptist Church Holds ‘Christmas-in-July’ Service”, The Washington Post, July 12, 1943, p. B1.
3. “Blue Mountains Yulefest: Christmas in July” goaustralia.about.com. Retrieved 2012-12-24.
4. “Mid Winter Christmas” guidetoauckland.co.nz. Retrieved 2012-12-24.
5.“Ho ho how to celebrate Christmas in July” capetownmagazine.com. Retrieved 2012-12-24.
Source Information: Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
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