We’re a multicultural family around here, probably like most families in the US, with a few countries of origin represented around our table and a litany of hyphenated titles to describe our relationships, including but not limited to “step-,” “half-,” “ex-,” and even “ex-half.” This means our holidays are a mass of traditions, special foods and cultures coming together in one great smorgasbord of love and celebrating. Eggrolls for thanksgiving? Done it. Hanukkah/ thanksgiving combo? Yup, that’s happening this year. The challenge of trying to accommodate gluten-free kosher vegetarians all in one meal? Every time we get together.
If you can relate, I invite you to try these cupcakes for your next family gathering. While they aren’t gluten free, you can easily sub in a gluten free cake mix instead. And they aren’t vegan, but they are vegetarian (ok, I know 99.9% of cupcakes in the world are vegetarian so that isn’t that cool- but still. Gotta take the wins when they come! They are not representative of one holiday or even of the typical pumpkin spicey-peppermint filled winter flavor profile (I for one have had it up to HERE with pumpkin spice everything) but they are perfectly seasonal.
They’re also quick, which is a serious godsend when the holiday hustle bustle sets in. With a shimmering winter white finish, the cupcakes sparkle like the fresh pow-pow that recently began falling in the hills around Seattle and the taste will gain you seriously big reviews at your next Christmahannakawanza gathering.
So let these cupcakes be your neutral zone, your Switzerland of the holidays. I named these Avalanche cupcakes because much like in the event of an actual snow slide disaster, with these cupcakes you’re desperate to get to what’s inside. I.E., your loved ones…. Nailed it! Alright, I know, ’tis NOT the season for off-color jokes, but Santa hasn’t made his list yet, so I still hold out ho-ho-hope. Ok, I am done. These jokes are getting ho-ho-horrible.
What you will need
Cake: 1 box of your favorite white cake mix and the mix-in ingredients needed to make the cake
- 1/2 cup sour cream
- 6 ounces cream cheese
- 1/2 container of whipped topping such as Cool Whip
- 1 tbspn clear vanilla flavoring (a friend brought mine home as a gift from Mexico. It is ok if all you have at home is the brown imitation vanilla, but you will loose the pure white coloring.)
- sifted powdered sugar to taste (I used about 1 cup)
Vanilla Buttercream Frosting:
- 2 sticks salted butter, softened
- about 3 cups of sifted powdered sugar (adjust based on your sweetness preference)
- 1 1/2 tbspn clear vanilla flavoring
- 2 tbspn milk or heavy cream
How to do it
Bake cupcakes according to cake box directions or your own favorite recipe, let cool completely.
Carefully, using a short sharp knife like a paring knife, cut a small cone out of the top of the cupcakes, leaving about 1/2 inch all the way around the cupcake rim in tact. (If you have a fancy cupcake injector you can use that instead.)
Mix up filling. In a stand mixer on medium speed, beat the cream cheese until fluffy. Add in the sour cream, beat well. Add the thawed whipped topping and vanilla. Slow the mixer and add pre-sifted powdered sugar slowly. Pause about halfway through and taste the filling. Continue adding the rest of the sugar until you have the desired taste. I like it somewhat sweet but with a noticeable sour kick. Mix until there are no powdered sugar clumps.
With a spoon, add filling to the cupcake tops. Then stuff the cut tops back into the space. This will force some of the filling further into the cupcake. It is ok if the cake tops don’t fit completely flush in the holes any longer. Since you will be frosting heavily over the top you wont see this.
Clean your mixing bowl, and start the butter cream frosting. Beat softened butter on medium high until fluffy and light yellow in color. Slow the mixer speed and add in sifted powdered sugar, tasting as you go. Add vanilla and milk. If your frosting still looks too thick (like a putty rather than a body cream) you can add a little more milk, but go slowly with the liquid. Ideally you want a frosting that is creamy but can hold up to the piping bag.
With a flat spatula scrape frosting into a disposable piping bag fitted with a large tip. I bought my jumbo tip at a restaurant supply store in Nashville, and it is my absolute favorite. They have slightly smaller ones available at Michaels in the cake decorating section. Pipe frosting and finish with clear shimmer sprinkles to get the snow look.