There are many ways that students can prepare for Christmas before leaving campus for a month-long break. From cooking dorm-friendly holiday recipes to building the perfect sugarplum Pandora playlist, it can be easy to get your Christmas game face on.
“I always stir my hot cocoa with a cinnamon stick,” senior Mandy Fonville said. “It just makes it smell like Christmas, which is probably everyone’s favorite thing about Christmas, the smell.”
Cinnamon sticks can be found in many varieties in the spices section of Walmart, Kroger and Walgreens; pair cinnamon with premade Swiss Miss hot chocolate mix or with Nesquick powder and milk.
Another easy holiday treat is chocolate covered pretzels, which only require a bag of pretzels and almond bark. Melt the almond bark in the microwave, use toothpicks or a fork to dip and coat the pretzels then drop on wax paper. Add sprinkles or crushed candy canes if desired.
Of course, in dorm kitchens or apartment housing, there are always more elaborate ways to make Christmas homemade. Junior Haleigh Calhoun celebrates early by taking over her dorm kitchen and making pumpkin pecan cheesecake for her friends.
“I make crust out of crushed up graham crackers, chopped pecans and some brown sugar,” Calhoun said. “Then I use a sweet pumpkin pie filling mixed with a bar of cream cheese. I roast a whole bunch of pecans for the topping and then add homemade whipped cream and a caramel glaze I make myself.”
This recipe may seem daunting, but many ingredients can be bought premade for quick and easy fixing. Pumpkin pie filling, cream cheese and a pre-made pie crust can quicken the process. Whipped cream and caramel glaze are also available in the ice cream sections of most grocery stores.
Of course, Christmas at Harding will be brought in with the Heritage lobby decorations, the front lawn illumination, horse-drawn carriage rides and hot cocoa before students take their month of vacation.
Haleigh’s Pumpkin Pecan Cheesecake
2 cups graham cracker crumbs
1/3 cup finely chopped pecans
5 tablespoons butter, melted
3 tablespoons light brown sugar
4 (8-oz.) packages cream cheese, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 large eggs
1 1/2 cups canned pumpkin
1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice
Garnishes: coarsely chopped Pecan Pie-Glazed Pecans, fresh sage leaves
Hands-on: 25 Minutes
Total: 11 Hours, 32 Minutes
1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Stir together first 4 ingredients in a bowl until well blended. Press mixture on bottom and 1 1/2 inches up sides of a 9-inch springform pan. Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until lightly browned.
2. Beat cream cheese and next two ingredients at medium speed with a heavy-duty electric stand mixer until blended and smooth. Add eggs, one at a time, beating just until blended after each addition. Add pumpkin and lemon juice, beating until blended. Pour batter into prepared crust. (Pan will be very full.)
3. Bake at 325 degrees for 1 hour to 1 hour and 10 minutes or until almost set. Turn oven off. Let cheesecake stand in oven, with door closed, 15 minutes. Remove cheesecake from oven, and gently run a knife around outer edge of cheesecake to loosen from sides of pan. (Do not remove sides of pan.) Cool completely on a wire rack (about 1 hour). Cover and chill 8 to 24 hours.
4. Remove sides and bottom of pan, and transfer cheesecake to a serving plate. Prepare praline topping; immediately pour slowly over top of cheesecake, spreading to within 1/4 inch of edge.