As most of you have likely heard at this point, there is finally a vaccine- a light at the end of the tunnel! However, it can be easy to let this light blind us from the reality that still is the COVID-19 virus. I’m not saying that we shouldn’t be hopeful for the future, but I do think that it is important to know the facts.
According to CNN and the CDC, Dr. Anthony Fauci has stated that the distribution of the vaccines was slowed by the massive spike in holiday cases and travelling. However, he fully expects that around April we will approach “open season,” a time in which the vaccine should be available to everyone, meaning that we could begin to achieve some form of herd immunity by spring of 2021. If by the end of the summer 70%-85% of the population is vaccinated, we should be able to achieve good herd immunity and may even have some form of normalcy come fall. He also predicts that we could begin to achieve some form of herd immunity by spring of 2021.
In order to understand how we will achieve “open season,” it is also important to understand the order in which the population will be vaccinated.
ORDER OF VACCINATION (according to the CDC):
-Healthcare personnel and long-term care facility residents
-Frontline essential workers and people age 75 and older
-People age 65-74 and people age 16-64 years with underlying medical conditions and other essential workers
This vaccination is extremely important to the future of the United State’s fight against the COVID-19 vaccine. Not only will it make it substantially less likely that you will get the virus, but if you do get the virus, it will keep you from getting seriously ill. Though scientists aren’t completely sure if the vaccine will stop you from being a spreader, they are hopeful that the vaccine will have this benefit as well.
Again, it is important to learn more about this vaccine, especially if you or a family member are going to be receiving it in the near future. Inform yourself; after all, you are experiencing scientific history right before your eyes!
This afternoon, Joseph R. Biden Jr. was sworn in as the 46th President of the United States.
With his wife, Dr. Jill Biden, at his side, the new president took the oath of office on a Bible that has been in his family since the 19th century.
Those in attendance included several members of the Senate and Supreme Court Justices, Vice President Kamala Harris and her husband, Doug Emhoff, the Obamas, the Clintons, the Bushes, and former Vice President Mike Pence.
Trump, as he announced, did not attend; the last time a sitting president failed to be present at his successor’s inauguration was in 1869, when Andrew Johnson refused to see Ulysses S. Grant take office.
In his first speech addressing the nation as president, Biden spoke emphatically about unity and about restoring America to “an America that never gives up, never gives in.” He promised, “I will be a President who seeks not to divide, but to unify. Who doesn’t see Red or Blue states, but a United States….if we can decide not to cooperate, then we can decide to cooperate.”
Perhaps to drive home this point, VP Harris, former First Lady Michelle Obama, and former Secretary of State Clinton all wore outfits in varying shades of purple, a color which is a mix of both red and blue.
Due to COVID-19 and enhanced security, there was a very small crowd presence at the Capitol. Instead, the inauguration proceedings were streamed across several viewing platforms, with hundreds of thousands watching. A live art installation, the “Field of Flags,” covered the National Mall; the flag of every state and territory was present, representing all those who could not be there in person.
This afternoon, Biden and Harris, accompanied by family and with military escort, exited their respective vehicles and, walking, led the inauguration parade to the White House, where the final proceedings of the day will take place. To read the full transcript of Biden’s inaugural remarks, visit his website here.
Recently, the well respected rapper Daniel Dumile, mainly known by his masked persona, MF DOOM, has passed away. His wife, Jasmine Dumile, told the public through various social media posts. Jasmine released this statement on DOOM’s instagram:
“The greatest husband, father, teacher, student, business partner, lover and friend I could ever ask for. Thank you for all the things you have shown, taught and given to me, our children and our family. Thank you for teaching me how to forgive beings and give another chance, not to be so quick to judge and write off. Thank you for showing how not to be afraid to love and be the best person I could ever be. My world will never be the same without you. Words will never express what you and Malachi mean to me, I love both and adore you always. May THE ALL continue to bless you, our family and the planet.”
The news was released December 31, 2020, two months after DOOM died on October 31, 2020, giving his wife and family time to grieve. No cause of death has been stated.
MF DOOM was born in London in 1971. He and his family moved to Long Island, New York when he was a kid, and he started performing and producing hip hop as a teenager under the stage name Zev Love X. He and his younger brother Dingilizwe, known as DJ Subroc, formed the group KMD and put out a critically acclaimed debut album, Mr. Hood, in 1991. Their second album was set to release in 1993, but DOOM’s brother died after being hit by a car. Five years later the rapper re-emerged as MF DOOM, wearing a mask modeled after the Marvel villain Dr. Doom.
DOOM spent his whole career wearing his signature mask. This was due to him wanting to place an emphasis on what he sounded like in his music versus what he looked like, as he stated in an Red Bull interview. He also said, “the mask really represents to rebel against trying to sell the product as a human being,” referring to corporate companies giving their artists “gimmicks” to start selling music. DOOM or any of his alter egos didn’t really get personal in his music so as to not lead back to him as a person, making him a lowkey presence in the industry and leaving nothing connected to his name. He worked on his personas alone and built the image of being the “Supervillain” of rap.
MF DOOM’s most acclaimed albums are Operation: Doomsday, where he talks about his return to the rap scene after KMD disbanded. The album Mm..Food talks about a plethora of topics such as backstabbing friends, bad rappers, and women all incorporated with food bars; Madvillainy is about DOOM being the “illest villain” accompanied by Madlib production. He is praised for his lyrical prowess, off kilter flows, and complex rhyme schemes displayed in these albums. His influence spreads far and wide in the rap industry, most notably in rappers such as Tyler, The Creator, Earl Sweatshirt, and Joey Bada$$.
Many artists and celebrities have expressed their condolences across social media, like Aminé and Adult Swim who tweeted out “RIP MF DOOM,” Tyler, The Creator tweeting “safe travels villain,” and Q-Tip tweeting “RIP to another Giant your favorite MC’s MC .. MF DOOM!! Crushing news…”.
President Donald Trump has been impeached for a second time, creating a first in United States history.
The House of Representatives voted yesterday to charge Trump with “high Crimes and Misdemeanors” for “inciting violence against the Government of the United States”. The House declared his actions–and specifically speech–preceding the attack on the Capitol last week “in violation of his Constitutional oath”.
Before the vote, Speaker Nancy Pelosi called Trump “a clear and present danger to the nation” and, even with only a week left in office, “he must go”.
The final count was 232 in favor of impeachment with 197 against.
While all 222 Democrats voted in favor of the resolution, the Republican representatives were divided. In the end, 10 decided to join the Democrats. Those 10 were as followed: Liz Cheney of Wyoming, Tom Rice of South Carolina, David Valado of California, Peter Meijer of Michigan, Fred Upton of Michigan, John Katko of New York, Jaime Herrera Beutler of Washington, Dan Newhouse of Washington, Anthony Gonzalez of Ohio, and Adam Kinzinger of Illinois.
With only a week left in office, it is very unlikely the Senate trial for removal from office will be completed in time for Trump to actually leave office early. However, this trial will determine whether or not Trump will be allowed to run for office in the future. Due to the rush of work that comes with the entrance of any new administration, it is possible that completion of this trial could take weeks, possibly months.
Trump released a video message after the House’s vote condemning violence saying, “violence and vandalism have absolutely no place in our country…mob violence goes against everything I believe in.” He did not mention his impeachment once during this message.
Ava Augustson, a senior at Cary this year, has recently launched her volleyball career. She is the captain of the varsity team this year and was awarded “Player of the Match” four times this season and “Player of the Season” last year (2019 season), and she was even named “Athlete of the Week” by the News & Observer. Ava has decided to continue her volleyball career as a Paladin at Furman University.
When did you begin playing volleyball?
Ava states, “I started playing volleyball when I was probably 9, but I started playing at the national level when I was in 8th grade.”
What is your favorite aspect of playing the game?
As most athletes feel, they love the entirety of the game, but Ava specifically feels like her “favorite aspect of playing volleyball is the feeling of getting a kill/block or even a perfect pass in a super important tight match, and turning around from the net for all of my teammates to be screaming and cheering.”
What is your fondest memory of playing volleyball at Cary?
Ava says that her favorite memory while playing volleyball at Cary was during her “sophomore year when we almost took a set from Green Hope (who are now a 5-time state championship team) even though we lost- it’s always such a fun match when it’s super close.” A big part of Ava’s morals that make her a great player is that win or lose, she continues to show leadership and radiates positivity.
Did playing club volleyball outside of school increase your passion and motivation towards the game?
Ava is currently playing at the popular NC volleyball club, North Carolina Volleyball Academy, which she has been playing on the top national team for 3 years. She says that her experiences playing club have “absolutely motivated me to want to play at the next level in college. I wouldn’t be half the player I am without the coaching and support from my teammates, who are now my best friends if I hadn’t played club.”
Who are the people that have helped you progress the most?
Just like amazing teachers in the classroom, volleyball is taught by amazing coaches. Without teachers and coaches, it would be harder to learn new skills. The people who are playing with you also play a big role in your development. Ava takes consideration into how important her coaches have been in her volleyball career so far as she states, “I think the most influential people in my volleyball career have been my amazing coaches, Coach Goodloe and my club coach, Jon Garner, who have taught me everything I know about the sport. Also, my teammates are important because they are who I look up to, simply for their drive and work ethic, which have influenced me a ton.”
What are some motives of why you chose to sign with Furman?
Ava explains that she “decided to choose Furman not only because the campus and location are so beautiful, but [she] fell in love with the culture and team when I took my official visit. [She] automatically felt super comfortable with all the girls and the coaching staff. It also doesn’t hurt that the education is great.”
Were there any other schools or places you were interested in attending?
As most high schoolers have experienced or will in the future, choosing your college (or after-high school plan) is not an easy task. Whatever you choose to do tomorrow will forever affect the rest of your life. Ava tells us that “when I began my recruiting process I had in mind that I wanted to travel far from home to try and live in a new state, so I was looking at a lot of schools in Florida, New York, New Jersey, and California. But as I progressed in my process and I began going on official visits and meeting the teams and coaches, I realized other factors need to impact my decision besides location- such as the coach, team, and honestly the value of the scholarship you are getting for the education the school has.”
What do you plan to do once you are at Furman?
Starting to begin a new chapter of her life and volleyball career, Ava has had to do some serious thinking about what she wants to do after college. She states, “I’ve struggled with figuring out what I want my major to be, but I am now leaning more towards the medical and science field. Therefore, I will most likely major in Biology or Health Science so I have a good amount of career options to choose from after I graduate.”
**A big thanks to Ava for interviewing with me, and best of luck on your journey! Feel free to continue with her journey with her by following her Instagram account, @avaaugustson! Congratulations and go Paladins!
After rioters charged on the US Capitol this previous Wednesday, all the living former presidents responded to the events, condemning the violence and calling it “sickening” and “unprecedented,” and they urged Trump to accept the results of the election as they asked for a peaceful transition of power. International leaders quickly followed suit as the news and images travelled across the world.
Almost all those abroad who have spoken up about the event have condemned the actions of Trump’s supporters. Both allies and enemies of the United States raised their voices or took actions to show their disapproval at the contention and vehemence observed on that day. From tweets to recorded messages to press conferences, messages from the leaders of nations across the world quickly flooded in.
Distress and disgust at the events of Wednesday was expressed by several heads of state.
Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli Prime Minister, said “lawlessness and violence are the opposite of the values we know Americans and Israelis cherish.” He called the riots “the rampage at the Capitol” and “vigorously” condemned the events.
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani denounced the events, blaming Trump: “When a sick person takes office, we see how he disgraces his country and creates troubles for the world.”
“The riots and protests that we’ve seen…have been terribly distressing,” remarked Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison. He also released an updated travel advisory for Australian citizens wishing to visit the US.
Brazilian Chief Supreme Court Justice Luis Roberto Bassero called those involved in the attack “supporters of facism”.
British Home Secretary Priti Patel singled out Trump, stating that “words of provocation are completely wrong” and that “every aspect” of scenes in D.C. should be “condemned”.
“These pictures made me angry and sad,” said German Chancellor Angela Merkel. “But for me, it is a sign of hope that the Congress continued their work that night.”
Many stressed the important symbolic significance of American democracy, urging Trump and his followers to accept the results of the election and cease with the violence.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson, whom Trump has had a close relationship with in the past, tweeted that the attacks were “terribly distressing” and that it is “vital that there should be a peaceful and orderly transfer of power.” Patel reinforced this, saying that “America is a beacon of democracy and freedom and, quite frankly…they [need to] move on and get on with an orderly transition.” The PM also said that “all my life America has stood for…an idea of freedom and an idea of democracy.”
Merkel spoke for “the millions of people who admire America’s democratic tradition” as she stood behind the results of the 2020 election, saying that the country “must [begin] a new chapter in its democracy in less than two weeks.”
Tweeting after receiving the news, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau wrote: “Violence will never succeed in overruling the will of the people. Democracy in the US must be upheld – and will be.”
“We hope that the democracy of America will overcome this turmoil and regain peace and cooperation of society,” commented Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato. “We hope that the transition of power will proceed peacefully and democratically.”
Netanyahu declared, “American democracy has always inspired me….I have no doubt that American democracy will prevail. It always has.”
French President Emmanuel Macron passionately spoke in his recorded message saying, “France stands strongly…and resolutely with the American people…who want to choose their leaders…through the democratic and free choice that are elections. We will not yield one iota to the violence of the few who would challenge that.”
Other countries also responded, though less explicitly.
Joanne Ou, spokesperson for the Taiwanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, spoke in a press conference about the riots, saying: “We have learned about the conflict…Taiwan’s Foriegn Ministry expresses regret….We will continue to pay close attention to relevant developments.”
While Russian President Vladamir Putin made no statement about the disturbance, chairman of the Russian upper house foreign affairs committee Konstantin Kosachev boldly spoke out saying, “I say this without a hint of gloating,” Kosachev wrote on Facebook Thursday. “America no longer defines the course, and therefore has lost all right to set it. And even more so to impose it on others.”
Hua Chunying, spokesperson for the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, spoke in her own press conference on Thursday, comparing the protests on the Capitol to those in Hong Kong. Questioning why the protesters in Hong Kong were called “a beautiful sight” while Trump’s supporters were labeled as “thugs, extremists, villains, and disgraces.” “I think,” she concluded, “we should think deeply about the reason behind the sharp contrast of such different attitudes.”
As calls for Trump’s removal grow louder, more White House staff resign, more prominent Republican figures leave Trump behind, and Inauguration Day grows closer, it is clear that now, more than ever, the eyes of the world are fixed on the United States.
Warning: These photographs contain unsettling and offensive images and symbols. None of the images included were produced by Cary High’s The Page, and their respective owners are credited.
After President Donald Trump’s rally, a large group of his supporters took to the Capitol Building in protest of the Electoral College vote certification. Instead of keeping to the boundaries allowed, many breached the building itself and stormed inside. These photographs depict a historical moment in the nation’s history.
Jason Andrews (The New York Times)
Trump supporters climbing the wall surrounding the Capitol Building, waving flags with fists in the air.
Julio Cortez (Associated Press)
Protestors fighting against police officers and their gates.
Erin Schaff (The New York Times)
Terrorists enter the Capitol Building in militia gear, maskless.
Mike Theiler (Reuters)
Man carrying the Confederate flag in the Capitol Building: the first time it has ever appeared in its halls.
Saul Loeb (Agence France-Presse)
Insurrectionists donned in Trump apparel walk the halls. Man in viking headpiece holds American flag and megaphone; he is reported to be a Q-Anon member and Black Lives Matter counterprotestor.
Win McNamee (Getty Images)
Florida man stealing the House Speaker podium with a smile and a wave.
Insurrectionists showing off a broken piece of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s sign. Man in background wears an anti-Semitic hoodie with the words “Camp Auschwitz” printed.
J. Scott Applewhite (Associated Press)
Terrorists breaking the window into the Senate chamber and peering inside with guns drawn at them.
Andrew Harnik (Associated Press)
Congress Members lying down on the ground with gas masks preparing for tear gas or bullets.
Win McNamee (Getty Images)
Man in riot gear hangs from the balcony of the chamber.
Igor Bobic (Huffington Post)
Insurrectionist raises fist at the seat of the Senate President yelling, “Trump won that election!”
Saul Loeb (Agence France-Presse)
Man sits in House Speaker Pelosi’s office chair with his feet on the desk.
The photographs are only a small part of the bigger picture. The acts of terrorism that took place on January 6th, 2021 will go down in history as a dark and shameful day: a day where violence was incited by the American President himself.
As I’m sure many of you know, Trump supporters attempted a coup in the afternoon of Wednesday, January 6th at the Capitol in Washington, D.C. At the time of the coup, Congress had convened to certify the Electoral College vote, a vote which would formalize the victory of President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris. Earlier in the day, Vice President Mike Pence had informed President Trump that he would not have the power to overturn the Electoral votes, much to the chagrin of the president. Shortly after this meeting, Trump went over to the Ellipse, which is a park located near the White House, and urged his supporters to march to the Capitol, saying “We are going to cheer on our brave Senators and Congressmen and women, and we are probably not going to be cheering so much for some of them–because you will never take back our country with weakness.” He stated that he would walk with them, but he did not, and he ended up watching the events of the day unfold on television in the White House.
His supporters marched to the Capitol, where it quickly turned violent. At around 1:30 pm, the Capitol was officially put into lockdown after these insurrectionists breached the Capitol building. They “overran police lines, smashed windows, and broke in, forcing lawmakers to flee.” Pictures from this attempted coup are horrifying, showing Congresspeople taking cover on the ground, officers barricading the door to the House and pointing their guns at it, and even a rioter hanging from the balcony of the Senate Chamber. These rioters were able to get into the Senate Chamber, with one even sitting where the president of the Senate sits, yelling “Trump won that election!” While Congresspeople were being evacuated, rioters broke into their offices, with one even leaving a manila envelope in Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi’s office with the phrase “We will not back down” written on it. Insurrectionists went as far as to bring a Confederate flag into the Capitol, the first time the flag has ever been publicly carried within its halls. Yet another insurrectionist wore a “Camp Auschwitz” shirt inside the building, a shocking and horrifying display.
In an attempt to get the protestors to leave sometime before dark, D.C. mayor Muriel Bowser ordered a citywide curfew, starting at 6 pm and ending at 6 am. This curfew was ordered around 2:30 pm. Shortly after the ordering of the curfew, Trump tweeted to “Stay peaceful,” and a woman was shot on Capitol grounds by police. She has been identified as Ashli Babbitt, and she later died from her injuries. Officials attempted to mobilize the National Guard, but “Trump resisted to do more.” This situation continued on for a few more hours. President-elect Biden gave a televised speech from Wilmington, Delaware at 4 pm, calling on President Trump to “go on national television now, to fulfill his oath and defend the Constitution and demand an end to this siege.” At around 4:30 pm, Trump released a video on social media platforms, saying “I know you’re hurt. We had an election that was stolen from us. This was a fraudulent election, but we can’t play into the hands of these people. We have to have peace. So go home. We love you, you’re very special.” While some heeded this half-hearted call to leave the Capitol, others stayed well past curfew and into the night.
The Senate was able to reconvene at 8 pm, and the House was able to reconvene at 9 pm to continue to certify the Electoral College vote. The two houses voted to reject the objection to the electoral vote of Arizona, and the Senate and House reconvened in a joint session at around 11:30 pm. After the events of the days, several Republican Senators made the decision to remove their names from objections to the Electoral College vote from the states of Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, and Wisconsin, making the objections not able to be entertained. However, an objection to the electoral vote of Pennsylvania was raised by 80 House Republicans and Missouri Senator Josh Hawley. The Senate and the House then reconvened to their own chambers, where the Senate voted immediately to reject the objection to the electoral vote of Pennsylvania 92-7. The House later voted to reject the objection 282-138. The Senate and House then reconvened in a joint session again, and after no more entertainable objections were presented, the Electoral College vote was certified by Vice President Pence at 3:41 am on Thursday, January 7th, confirming President-elect Biden’s win. Immediately following this certification, Trump tweeted out this from social media director Dan Scavino’s Twitter: “Even though I totally disagree with the outcome of the election, and the facts bear me out, nevertheless there will be an orderly transition on January 20th.” We can only help that come Inauguration Day, this statement holds true.
All of us have picked up some new hobbies this year, whether that would be drawing, sewing, or an instrument like guitar. If you are like me, you probably picked up cooking or baking during all of the free time you’ve had, and this time of year is the perfect time to put those new skills to use with these delicious holiday recipes.
This dessert is very similar to the French dessert called bûche de Noël, which you will be able to see through the taste of buttercream, vanilla and sweet glaze!
-3 egg yolks
-1/2 cup (100 grams) sugar
-1 teaspoon vanilla extract
-1/3 cup (30 grams) sifted cake flour
-3 tablespoons (30 grams) cornstarch
-1/4 cup red & green Wilton batter bits or edible confetti
-2 egg whites
-1 tablespoon sugar
-1 cup butter, room temperature
-3 cups (360 grams) powdered sugar
-3-4 tbsp red & green sprinkles
-1 teaspoon vanilla extract
-1-3 teaspoons heavy cream
Heat the oven to 450F.
Line a 17X12 jelly/sheet pan with parchment paper . Set aside.
In a mixing bowl add the 2 eggs, 3 egg yolks and 1/2 cup sugar. With the paddle attachment on, beat on medium to high speed around 5 minutes until pale in color and thickened. Add the vanilla extract and beat for a few more seconds.
Sift the flour and the cornstarch over the egg yolks mixture and with a spatula gently fold it in.
Fold in the batter bits as well.
In a separate grease-free bowl, add the 2 egg whites and 1 tablespoon of sugar. With a whisk, whip until firm peaks form.
With the spatula, fold the whipped egg whites into the egg yolks mixture.
Pour the cake batter into the prepared pan, spread it evenly and bake for 6-7 minutes until golden brown and, when touched, it springs back.
As soon as you remove the cake from the oven sprinkle with powdered sugar and then invert the cake onto a clean dish towel. Remove the parchment paper, sprinkle with more powder sugar, and roll up the cake with the towel. Place on a wire rack to cool.
In a clean bowl add the butter. With the whisk attached to the mixer, whip the butter for 2-3 minutes on medium to high speed.
Lower the speed and slowly add the sugar, 1/2 cup at a time.
When all the sugar is incorporated increase the speed and whip for 2 more minutes.
Add a few drops of heavy cream until it reaches the consistency you desire.
With a spatula, fold in the sprinkles.
Gently unroll the cake and spread the buttercream evenly all over it.
Roll it again and place in the fridge for a couple of hours.
To decorate, melt the white chocolate in a double boiler or microwave and pour it over the cake. Add more sprinkles (optional)
Let the chocolate settle for few minutes and slice the cake
To prepare the cake, preheat the oven to 350° F. Grease and line an 8-inch square cake pan.
In a large bowl, sift flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Mix well.
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix eggs and sugar until well combined. Gradually add oil and half of the vanilla, mix until just blended. With the mixer on low, slowly add half the flour mixture; mix until just blended. Add the buttermilk, mix until just blended. Slowly add remaining flour mixture, scraping down sides of the bowl with a spatula, as necessary, until just blended.
Pour batter into the prepared pan. Transfer the pan to the oven and bake for 18 to 20 minutes. Remove from the oven. Let the cake cool in the pan for 15 minutes, then invert it onto a greased rack. Let it cool completely.
To prepare buttercream, beat butter for a few minutes in a standing mixer with the paddle attachment on medium speed. Add powdered sugar and turn your mixer on low, beat until the sugar incorporates with the butter. Add the remaining half of the vanilla and heavy cream, beat on medium speed for another 3 minutes, or until buttercream becomes light and fluffy.
To assemble cake pops, prepare two cookie sheets lined with parchment paper.
Break the cooled cake into a few big chunks by hand, place them into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and mix on medium speed until the big pieces turn into crumbs. Add frosting gradually into the cake crumbs and blend until the mixture becomes a dough. You’ll use about 1 to 1 1/2 cups of frosting.
Scoop dough into 10 to 20 teaspoon-sized balls for the heads, and 10 to 20 tablespoon-sized balls for the bodies. Place them on the prepared cookie sheets. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Remove the small cake balls from the refrigerator. Gradually melt the white candy melts in the microwave, heating in 10 second intervals and stirring in-between. Dip one end of a lollipop stick in the candy melts and insert all the way through a small cake ball, leaving about one centimetre of the stick at the bottom. Repeat with all the small cake balls. Set aside for 30 seconds.
Remove the large cake balls from the refrigerator. Dip each small cake ball in the white candy melts and gently tap off excess. Carefully but quickly insert the end of the stick into a large cake ball. Secure the head and body part and let it stand for 30 seconds. Repeat with the remaining cake balls.
Dip each snowman body in the white candy melts and gently tap off excess. Place cake pop onto a piece of parchment paper. Let it dry completely.
Place the red candy melts in a microwavable Ziploc bag. Microwave on high for 20 to 30 seconds to completely melt the candy melts. Push the melted candy toward one corner of the bag. With a pair of scissors, snip off a very small opening, and start piping the hat and scarf on each snowman cake pop.
Repeat with the black candy melts for the eyes, mouths and buttons. Repeat with the orange candy melts for noses.
-1 stick (4 ounces) unsalted butter, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
-3 ounces semi-sweet chocolate, finely chopped
-3/4 cup + 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
-1/2 teaspoon baking soda
-1 teaspoon baking powder
-1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted
-1/2 teaspoon salt
-2 large eggs + 1 large egg yolk, at room temperature
-1 cup granulated sugar
-1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract
-1/2 cup full fat sour cream
-1/2 cup hot coffee
Preheat the oven to 350° degrees (F). Line a 12-cup cupcake/muffin tin with cupcake liners and lightly spray the liners with non-stick spray (optional but it does help them peel right off). Set aside.
In a large, microwave safe bowl, melt the oil, butter, and chocolate in the microwave, heating in 30 second increments, and stirring in between each increment, until completely melted. Whisk mixture until completely smooth and set aside to cool.
In a medium-sized bowl combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder, cocoa powder, and salt; stir together until thoroughly combined and set aside.
In a large bowl whisk together the eggs, yolk, sugar and peppermint extract; beat until smooth.
Add the cooled oil/butter/chocolate mixture and whisk until smooth. Add half of the flour mixture, then half of the sour cream. Repeat the process until everything is added, and be sure to mix until JUST combined. Quickly stir in the hot coffee – it’s important not to over mix, here! Just stir until everything is evenly combined.
Fill the prepared cupcake liners so that each mold is 3/4 of the way full (you’ll have some leftover batter). Bake for 16-18 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool cupcakes in the pan for 10 minutes, then transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely. Repeat with remaining batter.
-3 cups confectioners sugar, sifted
-3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted
-1 stick unsalted butter, very soft
-2 tablespoons sour cream
-3 to 4 tablespoons half and half (you can find this in the dairy aisle near the heavy cream)
-1/4 teaspoon salt
-1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract
For the Chocolate Drizzle:
-4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
-1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
-1 teaspoons vanilla extract
-1/2 cup crushed candy canes
Sift together the confectioners sugar and cocoa powder, whisking well to ensure it’s bump and lump free!
Using a handheld mixer OR a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter on medium-high speed until creamy; about 2 minutes. Reduce speed to low and slowly add the sifted sugar/cocoa powder, alternating with the sour cream and half and half, then add the peppermint extract and salt. Once all of the ingredients have been added, increase speed to medium-high and beat the frosting until fluffy, about 2 minutes.
Frost cooled cupcakes and top with chocolate drizzle and crushed candy canes.
Place chocolate in a medium-sized heat-proof bowl; set aside.
In a small saucepan over medium heat, warm the heavy cream until very hot, but not boiling. Pour the hot cream over the chopped chocolate and set it aside for 2-3 minutes. Whisk the cream and chocolate completely smooth; whisk in vanilla. Allow the chocolate to cool for about 5 minutes before spooning the on the top of each frosted cupcake. Sprinkle the wet chocolate with crushed candy canes.
I hope you are able to bring smiles to someones face with these desserts, whether it be from a neighbor, friend, or family member. Have fun and happy holidays!
With dance classes having to reduce their sizes or go online to prevent the spread of COVID, many ballet companies have had to forego their Nutcracker usual performances for live audiences. If you’d still like to keep up your yearly winter tradition and watch a Nutcracker performance from home, there are a number of options available that vary in cost and accessibility.
Watch Carolina Ballet’s performance live on WRAL
Carolina Ballet puts a lot of effort into making their dances unique, while still sticking to the traditional story. Their Act I is especially entertaining, with multiple magic tricks involving dancers that seem to float in midair with no strings attached and climb out of suitcases and presents after being flattened into pieces of paper. Act II shines with its Tea dancers that jump over each others’ heads and Candy Cane dancers that spin in the air with hoops. If you’re looking for a performance that will keep a younger audience entertained while still serving beautiful choreography, tune into WRAL on Christmas day at 7pm for the exclusive TV showing, and get the chance to support a local ballet company.
Pay for an online performance
If you’ve always wanted to watch a specific ballet company’s performance of the Nutcracker, but never happened to be traveling in their state during winter break, you’re in luck this year. New York City Ballet, San Francisco Ballet, and many other famous ballet companies are streaming their performances online this year. The Hip Hop Nutcracker, which is a fun reimagining of The Nutcracker with contemporary choreography and costumes, is also online this year. Most companies are charging $25-$50 to gain access to the stream, but since you can watch with your whole family and don’t have to pay for multiple tickets like you would in person, it’s much cheaper than a normal show would cost.
Watch your favorite dances on YouTube
The Nutcracker may be an acclaimed ballet, but there are still some parts that can drag, especially if you’ve watched them dozens of times before. If you don’t feel like sitting through a whole performance this year, you can find your favorite scenes on YouTube. The Moscow Ballet and Royal Opera House Ballet channels are both very thorough in posting clips of their dances online. For those who are watching The Nutcracker more out of an appreciation for the choreography than for entertainment, this can be a fun way to compare how different companies change up the dances and what different performers can bring to a role.
Watch the narrated 1993 New York City Ballet Nutcracker for free
The 1993 New York City Ballet Nutcracker, starring Macaulay Culkin, is available on Amazon Prime for free as long as you have an Amazon account. This version was produced to be watched like a movie, so it has much closer camera angles than a typical ballet recording and can put more emphasis on the facial expressions of the performers. It also includes narration in some parts, which makes it a good introduction to the ballet for younger audiences, who may have a hard time following the story otherwise.
Watch a movie inspired by The Nutcracker
Instead of watching the actual ballet, you could also watch a movie inspired by The Nutcracker. Barbie in The Nutcracker and Disney’s The Nutcracker and the Four Realms are two of the most popular movies based on the ballet. Neither received particularly good reviews, but they could still be fun for a family movie night. The Four Realms features Misty Copeland and a more diverse cast than typical performances, and Barbie has a nostalgia factor for teenagers and young adults who may have watched it in the early 2000s when it came out. Both movies place less emphasis on the actual dancing, and more on their own variations of The Nutcracker’s story.