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Like many mothers, by mid-December I'm overwhelmed with visions of holiday meals to plan and make, gifts to wrap, and cards to address and mail. Yet somehow it's unthinkable to let certain family traditions slide, particularly the ones that started several grandmothers-back and continued on in the kitchen of my mother and her mother before her.
Still, I'd like to have a shred of sanity left on Christmas. So instead of ditching Wanga's Christmas cupcakes, I cheat –er– compromise.
Instead of making her angelic white cake mix from scratch, I fall back on a box of Duncan Hines. No one's the wiser. I draw the line at store-bought frosting, so I make my own (translation: mix a little milk with a lot of confectioner's sugar).
That leaves just the candy holly leaves and berries on top to contend with. With no time to drive to the specialty candy store for the spearmint-sugared gummy leaves that my mom always found, I grab a standard bag of gum drops at the grocery and slice the green ones up. My girls arrange them on frosted cupcakes, and with a few cinnamon red-hot candies, they stand in quite well for holly leaves.
On Christmas Eve, when we dig into the cupcakes and raise our mugs of hot chocolate to Wanga, I know she wouldn't mind. As long as she's still in our hearts, she'll keep my secret safe.
Here are some easy, adorable Christmas cupcakes for your family to try (cheating allowed):