We’re off to my sister, Phoebe’s in a couple of hours to start the Christmas Festivities! The travel gods are with us – everyone lives within about a 2-mile radius of her and Nancy’s home.

Christmas Eve at Phoebe and Nancy’s is hors d’oeuvres and exchanging white elephant gifts. Probably a cocktail or two. There’s lots of laughter, lots of stories. It’s a really fun tradition.

It’s a lot like our Christmases back east where we all went to Victor’s sister’s house and her husband, Tom. created the Feast of the Seven Fish. Family, tons of food, lots of laughter – and full bellies!

We made Crab Cioppino our first couple of Christmases here, but decided to switch it out this year.

Victor is making his absolutely delicious Ricotta Rollatini in an hors d’oeuvre size. I’m bringing a dessert.

There is going to be a lot of food. This family knows how to cook – and cook well.

Knowing I was going to do a dessert, I decided to do something a bit non-Christmas traditional. No chocolate and peppermint, no gingerbread or eggnog… And I wanted it to be bite-sized. Cake and pies and such are great, but they’re difficult to portion for crowds. Mini cupcakes really work well.

I had made a PB&J sandwich the other day for lunch, and it struck me that the flavors would make a great cupcake! The PB&J Cupcake was born!

This was a fun one to put together! I had some peanut butter whisky (don’t judge) that I wanted to use up and I had some flavorings that I knew would work, so I set off…

I started with a boxed cake mix. They can be doctored up really well and can make for a good base. Not following their ingredient list, I added peanut butter, peanut butter whisky, and a drop of peanut butter extract to the mix, along with 4 eggs. Into the oven for 8 minutes.

Really simple.

The icing was a cream cheese with pureed apricot jam and apricot extract. A bit of melted peanut butter went on top of the cupcake and then the icing. Dried apricots chopped with demerara sugar finished it off.


Peanut Butter and Jelly Cupcakes

For Cake:

  • 1 box vanilla cake mix
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter
  • 1 cup peanut butter whisky
  • 4 eggs

Mix ingredients together as you would following the cake mix instructions. Fill 48 mini cupcake cups and bake at 350°F for 8 minutes.

For other sizes, follow instructions on mix box.

For Icing:

  • 8 oz block cream cheeses softened
  • 8 oz butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup apricot jam, pureed
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tsp apricot extract
  • 5 cups powdered sugar

Cream butter and cream cheese together. Add pureed jam and flavorings. Add powdered sugar and mix well.

To Assemble:

Warm a bit of peanut butter in microwave – just enough to make it easily spreadable.

Add a bit to the top of each cupcake.

Pipe icing on top and finish with chopped dried apricots.

‘Tis the Season, indeed!