Monday, December 3, 2012

Advent by Candlelight with Easy Chocolate Cherry Trifle

Hey Crushers,
This past weekend was full of getting ready for Christmas Spirit! Every year for the past 15-ish years, our church has hosted a Christmas program for women called "Advent by Candlelight" or ABC. The idea behind the program is that the holidays are always filled with hustle and bustle, so sometimes we forget the real purpose of Christmas is to celebrate Jesus' birth as the fulfillment of a long-ago promise that God would send a Savior to the world. This often gets mixed up in the cookies and lights and stockings and cards and shopping and wrapping and groceries and cooking and more and more... Although you hear about the true "reason for the season", this really makes you stop and think about it.

For ABC, there are table hostesses that invite friends, family, acquaintances and neighbors to join them in a relaxing afternoon of fellowship, faith and desserts. I was a reader for ABC and I am in the handbell choir which played "Tree of Life" and "Here I am Lord" as part of the program. The theme for this year was "Here I am Lord" about how God often used the unexpected woman in the Bible to help bring about His promise of a Savior. You never know when you're going to be called to a bigger purpose!

Jen's ABC table (before we lit the
candles). Note the baking soda
on the table in case of fire.

Part of the fun is that we hold this whole event with only a few electric lights for the readers and musicians. All of the tables for participants are lit by candles. Every hostess is encouraged to decorate her table and bring a dessert to share. Since my sister and I got married this year, I was able to recycle a lot of the table decorations from our weddings. I wrapped mason jars (from my wedding) with sheer ribbon for a nice glow and used a Christmas/wintry centerpiece that my mom gave me as a gift a few years ago. She also let me borrow some of her white dishes so the whole table was red and white. I got lots of compliments, so that was very nice, but I must say that each hostess really showed how creative she is!

For the dessert, I wanted to make something that I could just hand out individually instead of needing to slice and serve. Cupcakes are a great option, but I was feeling a bit caked-out after all the weddings this year. So, I made individual Chocolate Cherry Trifle cups! Instead of putting it in one big trifle bowl (which would give me the scoop and serve problem), I put them in clear plastic cups. They were easy to make, easy to serve, and everyone enjoyed them!

Chocolate Cherry Trifle Cups
1 box of chocolate cake mix (plus 3 eggs, 1 1/3 cup water, 1/2 cup oil)
2 packages instant chocolate pudding (plus 4 cups of cold milk)
1 large tub of whipped topping
1 can of cherry pie filling
1 square of semi-sweet baking chocolate (mini chocolate chips would work, too)

Bake the chocolate cake according to the directions on the box. If you're feeling ambitious, go ahead and make chocolate cake from scratch (I ran out of time because we were giving the house a good pre-Christmas decorations cleaning). While that is in the oven, make the chocolate pudding according to the package. I sound like I'm on "Sandra Lee's Semi-Homemade Cooking", don't I? It works!

Assembly process
Once the cake has cooled (takes about an hour), it's time to start assembling. I needed to make enough for 12 servings, so I grabbed a muffin tin to help me keep the cups from tumbling over, plus it's easy to carry! Cut the cake in 1 x 1 inch squares or just tear it with your fingers in little clumps. Layer each cup with the following: cake, chocolate pudding, whipped topping, cherry pie filling, cake, whipped topping. Be sure and spread out each layer so you can see it from the outside.

All done! I saved putting on the chocolate shavings until I was ready to serve them.

Tip: You can cover these and put them in the fridge overnight, but I wouldn't make this two nights ahead. That might make them a little too soggy. For a pretty garnish on top, take that chunk of baking chocolate and shave off some with a veggie peeler.

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