My family has all sorts of fun holiday traditions. I’ve shared apple and pumpkin picking and the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, but now that Christmas is approaching, it’s time for December holiday traditions, and last weekend had two of my favorites!
Since I was in high school, my brother and I have gone to a Dave Matthews Band concert each December. Though I’ve only heard them play “The Christmas Song” once, it doesn’t feel like the holiday season without going to a show. Last Saturday night, we went to the Izod Center in New Jersey for a great concert, hearing new songs as well as old favorites.
It was a late night, but I couldn’t wait to wake up Sunday morning for our annual trip to the Christmas tree farm!
Because I live in a condo and travel often, this is my tree,
but I’m a traditionalist at heart and love that my parents have always cut one down, rather than putting up an artificial one. I have great memories of getting lost in the rows of trees with my brother and our family friends,
It may have been a bit foggy that morning, but it was a great day to find a tree. There was still some snow on the ground from a recent storm,
making it all the more picturesque and festive.
First, we grabbed a saw
When we find a strong contender, we place a glove on the top to mark the possible tree while taking a last minute look around to make sure we’ve made the right choice.
Next, it’s time to cut the tree down. Many years of practice have taught us that the appropriate technique is one person sawing and one person holding the tree.
Then, we carry it to the baler.
The tree goes in
and comes out
Even though living out of state means that I typically don’t get to help my family trim the tree, I wouldn’t miss our visit to Wyckoff’s Farm. Since they’re already getting ready for us,
I’ll be sure to mark my calendar to return next year. One of the things I’ll be looking forward to again is that when it’s time to pay for the tree, Wyckoff’s always has hot chocolate and a bucket filled with candy canes. It’s the perfect sweet treat to end a fun outing. To take the experience back to Philadelphia with me, I decided to bake Peppermint Hot Chocolate Brownies.
I found a recipe for Hot Chocolate Brownies and made modifications until the taste brought me back to the tree farm!
- 3/4 cups flour
- 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 1 egg
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract
- 3/4 cup milk chocolate chips, divided
- 3/4 cup miniature marshmallows
- 1/2 cup chopped soft peppermints
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line an 8×8-inch baking dish with foil; coat file with nonstick cooking spray.
- In a medium bowl, whisk to combine flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk melted butter, sugar, and egg on low speed until combined. Add vanilla and peppermint extracts and whisk on medium speed until light and fluffy, 2-3 minutes.
- Whisk in dry ingredients until just combined.
- Using a rubber spatula, fold in 1/2 cup milk chocolate chips. Transfer batter to foil-lined baking dish. Bake until set, approximately 20 minutes.
- Remove from oven and top with 1/4 cup milk chocolate chips, 3/4 cup marshmallows, and 1/2 cup soft peppermints. Bake another 2 minutes to soften marshmallows and chocolate chips.
- Remove from oven and immediately use offset spatula to push toppings into brownies, flattening slightly. Cool in baking dish.
DISTANCE TRAVELED FROM PHILADELPHIA TO BELVIDERE, NJ: 89 miles