Bake Sales are Snow Laughing Matter

I don't know how many of you are familiar with Nevada winters. In case you're unaware, let me give you a little glimpse of what it like.

Let's say it's early-ish March, and weather is warming up into the 60's. This means it's officially warm enough to wear flip flops without getting frostbite. Your feet can finally be freeeeee! So you go about your business for a few days, happily running around in said flip flops. On one of these nice, sunny springlike days, you make a trip to Costco... where you promptly smash your pinky toe on the cart wheel and nearly yell out an expletive, which is highly concerning to your son who (very loudly) says "MOM DID YOU JUST BREAK YOUR PINKY TOE AGAIN?!"

FYI, this is all totally hypothetical.

So lets say that happens. You're in Costco for maybe 35 minutes and, by the time you limp back to your truck, its gone from 60 degrees to like 40. The sun is gone, clouds have taken over, and the wind has picked up. The cold breeze feels super neat on your newly broken toe, by the way, and your already unbrushed hair now has a fabulously 80's windblown look. You regret your flip flops, which makes you sad because flip flops are awesome.

This is a very detailed hypothetical. Sometimes I amaze myself with my imagination.

Anywho, your flip flop week officially goes to hell by the next morning when about 8 inches of snow decides to fall. Literally 60 degrees to a full blown snowstorm in less than 24 hours. All the while your dad is calling and cursing about the 2 feet of snow he got. He's also displeased about how snow plows leave berms at the edge of his freshly snowblown driveway, giving you serious Walt Kowalski "get off my lawn" vibes.

THAT'S Nevada winter. Hypothetically.

Honestly I don't mind the winter. Fall is by far my favorite time of year. Then spring, then winter. Summer is hot and dumb and I hate it. Any season that's too hot for us to use the fireplace is stupid. We have a wood burning fireplace with some cozy chairs by it, which is a perfect spot for sipping bourbon, so the cold is pretty much always welcome. The problem with Nevada winters is that they're completely bipolar. Like with the (totally hypothetical) situation above, you can leave your house in a tshirt and flip flops, but you'd best have some boots and a down jacket in your car just in case.

It can also make it really tough to plan events. Case in point: my son's school fundraiser.

Two Fridays ago was supposed to be his school's Ice Cream Social/cake walk/bake sale thing, which is a big fundraiser they do every year. For the cake walk/bake sale, they rely on parents and grandparents to bake cupcakes and bring them in that morning. I always enjoy baking up a storm for this thing, and this year was no exception. So I made nearly 4 dozen cupcakes and packaged them up all nice for the big event. This is no easy feat with my graveyard schedule, but its fun to do nonetheless.

Unfortunately, Nevada winter struck again.

It snowed a lot. School was cancelled and the fundraiser was rescheduled.

So that was neat - no bake sale. I bagged up the cupcakes and sent them to work with the husband so they wouldn't go to waste.

Side note: its deeply troubling how my husband's skinny-ass gorgeous coworkers can eat all of the desserts I send in and not ever get fat. I gain weight just smelling food. #notfair #sturdygirlproblems

The bake sale was rescheduled for last friday, so last Thursday turned into redo day. It happened to be the same day that I had to make cupcakes for a 50th birthday party, so Thursday ended up being morning till night kitchen time (aka "good excuse for day drinking").

Here's a rundown of how both attempts went:

Attempt #1 - the ones that went to the skinny chicks

I decided to make one big batch of chocolate cupcakes and tweak them three different ways. When doing a large batch, I use a slightly modified version of this . Its delicious and way easier than making multiple batches. For chocolate, I add about 1/4 cup of good quality unsweetened cocoa powder, as well as a couple of extra tablespoons of water. To account for the high altitude here, I also decrease the sugar by about 2 tablespoons and bake at 325. Using about 2 tbsp of batter per cupcake liner, I bake them for 17 minutes and end up with around 42-46 cupcakes. This makes it ideal for larger batches, and the recipe tastes ahhhhmaaazzzinngggg! They are the most flavorful, moist cupcakes out there.

The school likes the bake sale cupcakes separated into batches of 6. So I did a couple of batches with just buttercream frosting and some colorful sprinkles for those who like them simple.

For some other batches, I did a peanut butter/chocolate frosting very similar to this one. I just omitted the butterscotch chips and used the rest:

  • 1/2 cup heavy cream

  • 2 cups softened salted butter

  • 1/2 cup creamy peanut butter

  • 4 cups powdered sugar

  • 1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract

This makes one of the most decadent and wonderful frostings you'll ever have ever. It's just the right amount of peanut butter - not overwhelming. And its wonderful on chocolate cupcakes!

I topped them with some cute gold sprinkles I had laying around just to give them a little bit of color.

And NOW for the fun ones.

While shopping for food & supplies, I happened upon the Easter candy aisle and decided to look for inspiration. It came when I saw a bag of mini Snickers.

Read in Maz Kanata voice: "THOSE SNICKERS... they call to YOUUUU!"

So I grabbed them up and decided to try something new.

I cored out the middle of the cupcakes and filled them with a mixture of caramel and chopped up (roasted & salted) peanuts.

You know, I just noticed that the picture makes it look like a bowl of baked beans. I promise its not though - its literally just caramel and peanuts.

I filled the middle with the peanut/caramel (not baked beans) mixture and frosted them with plain vanilla buttercream. I was afraid a chocolate or peanut butter/chocolate frosting would just be too much. I'm half tempted to try them with the peanut butter chocolate frosting some time though - I feel like it might be heavenly!

I frosted them and drizzled some of the caramel on top, then threw on some chopped up Snickers bars.

I cut the first one in half to take the picture, then sampled it to see how it worked out. I'm so glad I did because the caramel drizzle on top took it straight into way-too-sweet territory. So for the rest of them I omitted that. I also felt that the caramel center was verging on too sweet, but people still seemed to love them.

When I found out that my husband, who has a nearly non existent sweet tooth, ate two of them, I figured that they must be pretty good.

Attempt #2 - the ones that actually made it to the bake sale

So for these, I went a bit less diverse. The 50th birthday party cupcakes were going to be half chocolate cupcakes with chocolate frosting and half vanilla cupcakes with vanilla buttercream. There was no way in hell I was going to make a third type of frosting that day on top of everything else, so the peanut butter/chocolate didn't happen.

I made 2 dozen vanilla/vanilla for the bake sale and used some of the "free sh*t" sprinkles from my recent Fancy Sprinkles order. I thought they turned out pretty and springy!

No - their website doesn't pay me. They don't even know I exist. But I love their stuff, and their marketing is on point, so I'm going to brag on them.

The metallic sprinkles went on the birthday party cupcakes - both the vanilla and the chocolate.

Your eyes are not deceiving you - that chocolate frosting really IS black. A bit of black gel food paste made that happen.

I made the other 2 dozen bake sale cupcakes Snickers style, but this time I tried Smuckers "Simple Delights Salted Caramel" and ohhhhh it was so much better! This one tasted more like real caramel, as opposed to overly sweet ice cream topping. What a world of difference this made.

Even with the much-improved caramel, I still opted not to drizzle it on top of the frosting. I also learned a lesson from attempt #1 and used full sized Snickers this go around - I really wanted to avoid unwrapping 700 stupid bite sized ones.

Overall, I think the school got a pretty good haul.

And the birthday cupcakes turned out pretty well too!

It took a vacation day (night) at work, cooperative weather and some creative time and ingredient management to get it done whilst still doing mom stuff, but it ended up working out pretty well.

Next time I just need to remember to wear shoes if I'm going to be in the kitchen for that long - my feet pretty much hated me by that night. Maybe that would be a good job for my poor, underutilized flip flops.

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