Have you ever started your date night with an argument? And then as soon as you resolve your argument, you sit in an hours worth of traffic only to surround yourself with screaming children, trampling crowds and parking lot wars? Let us tell you about our failed date, how we learned to survive the night of catastrophe and a hot chocolate recipe that fixed it all.
If you’re from Rhode Island or Southern Massachusetts, it’s almost a guarantee that La Salette is part of your Christmas tradition. With more than 400,000 Christmas lights, the La Salette Shrine in Attleboro, Massachusetts brings Christmas spirit to the southern New England area starting December 1st to January 1st every Saturday and Sunday. We thought it would be a peaceful moment to press pause on the holiday rush, enjoy the meaning of Christmas and savor a little time with each other. “Thought” would be the key word here. We were soon to be disappointed.
With Eric back in school for his MBA and in the thick of finals, we decided to go to La Salette after he finished studying. Much to my frustration, he wasn’t ready to go until 7:45 pm. We still had a twenty minute drive plus what ever traffic we had to battle before they shut off the lights at 10 pm sharp. Already starting our date night with arguing on the way, we quickly became aware of how disappointed we both were with the rushed situation. It’s Christmas time and date night – two of my favorite things happening in the same moment! Why were we wasting our precious time quibbling? Eric was the first to come to this realization and I followed suit shortly after, quickly resolving the heated situation with apologies all around.
Phew, now that that was over, we could enjoy our night. Wrong! Ahead of us awaited a long line of brake lights. Looking at the map confirmed that there was over 2 miles worth of stopped vehicles all impatiently waiting to see the same spectacular light display we eagerly anticipated. We pulled into the parking lot an hour later, unabashedly knowing all of the words to Selina Gomez’s new song due to the amount of times it was replayed on the radio. Just so you all know she’s tired of the same old love and I bet you she still is.
Eric dropped me off at the lights so I could take photos for the blog while he battled for a parking spot. To make maters worse, I turned my camera on to realize I left my memory card at home! Arg! This meant no beautiful photos of thousands and thousands of lights. Eric found me in complete despair surrounded by screaming children and dozens of strollers. This night was quickly falling apart for the second time or third time – who’s counting at this point? I desperately wanted to scream like the little toddler next to me who’s mother didn’t have any pennies left for him to throw into the fountain. The struggle was real in that moment.
Eric must have been thinking the same thing I was because he quickly broke my train of thought commenting “What are we doing here? This is the worst date night idea ever!” And he’s completely right! What a date night failure! Here we are writing a blog on good date night ideas and surely La Salette should have been a great Christmas date night. But in reality, although the lights are romantic, there’s no peace and quiet to cultivate good conversation and the atmosphere definitely is not intimate. If you have children, by all means this is a great family outing. But if you’re looking to stroll under the lights, holding hands with your honey, stay far far away.
The only thing we could do after walking around the crowded grounds was to start laughing. Partially at the chaos that surrounded us and at ourselves for thinking this would be a brilliant date idea. After snapping a couple selfies in front of the lights, the packed parking lot and the turbulent crowds, we decided to end the night. Avoiding a panicked mob of minivans trying to escape La Salette before they shut off all of the lights, we headed home. Cutting up some homemade marshmallows we had waiting for us and whipping up some peppermint hot chocolate from scratch, we collapsed on the couch and enjoyed the silence sipping on hot cocoa and oohing and aahing at our own light display on our cute little tree.
What did we learn from this failed date night?
- Stay humble! Don’t be afraid to be the first one to apologize. It’s worth a little bruise to your ego rather than bruising each others emotions.
- Keep it simple! If it’s complicated with lots of traffic and non-existent parking, it’s not worth the hassle. Move on to another idea.
- Laugh a little – no a lot – even if it’s at yourself. It’s amazing what a little change of attitude can do to a situation.
- Chocolate fixes everything.
Without further ado, here is our peppermint hot chocolate and marshmallow recipe. Now go whip yourselves up a cup, pull up a couch, snuggle with your honey and enjoy a night of good, hassle free conversation.
Homemade Marshmallow Recipe
Note: Be sure to make these the night or at least the morning before you want to enjoy them. They do take some time to set before they are ready to eat.
- 1 1/2 cups of granulated sugar
- 1 cup of light corn starch
- 1 cup of cold water
- 3 packs of unflavored gelatin
- 1/4 teaspoon of salt
- 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
- Confectioners sugar and cornstarch for dusting
If you have a Kitchen Aid, it’s time to break it out! If not, a large mixing bowl and a beater will do the trick. In your mixing bowl, combine your three small packages of gelatin powder and 1/2 cup of cold water. Set aside that mixing bowl a couple minutes to activate the gelatin. In a small sauce pan, combine the other 1/2 cup of water, granulated sugar, corn syrup and salt over medium high heat for four minutes, covered. Uncover, mix if needed and cook for another 4 minutes or until the sugar mixture reaches 240 degrees Fahrenheit (you should use a candy thermometer).
Now, return to your cold water gelatin combo and turn your mixer on low. Slowly pour your hot sugar combination into the side of the mixing bowl until all of the sugar and the gelatin are combined. Then turn your mixer on high for 15 minutes. While the mixer is going, lightly coat a baking pan or glass wear with oil and then in a separate bowl, combine equal parts of confectioners sugar and cornstarch. Liberally sprinkle your powder mix onto the baking pan, cover with saran wrap and shake until the whole pan has been covered in powder.
Before your gelatin and sugar mix is done, add the vanilla extract. Now your ready to create marshmallows! Pour out your liquid marshmallows evenly into your pan. Dust more of your confectioners sugar and cornstarch mix over the top, but remember to save a little of this dusting mixture for later! Now cover the pan and let it sit over night, or at least a minimum of 8 hours. Once they have set, flip them over onto a cutting board and cut into the desired cube slices. We like to cut them a little larger so they are almost the width of a small coffee cup – perfect for melting in a cup of hot chocolate. Place your sliced marshmallows into a gallon zip lock bag along with the rest of the cornstarch and confectioners sugar and shake until they are all evenly coated.
Peppermint Hot Chocolate Recipe
Note: Depending on the size of your cups, you may need to double your recipe.
- 2 cups of milk
- 4 tablespoons of unsweetened cocoa powder
- 4 tablespoons of sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract
- 1/4 teaspoon of peppermint extract
- 1 candy cane
- Pinch of salt
Place a candy cane between two layers of saran wrap and pound with a meat hammer until it is in small, flaky pieces. Set aside until your hot chocolate is ready. In a medium saucepan, whisk 1/4 cup of milk, cocoa powder and sugar over medium heat until it is combined. Add the rest of the milk and stir until it is your desired temperature for sipping. Then stir in the vanilla extract and peppermint extract. Finally, pour into two mugs, garnish with as many marshmallows as your heart desires and sprinkle on the candy cane flakes.