Let it snow!  Let it snow! Let it snow! Ah, the glorious winter season in Los Angeles is so bright, snowy, and blistering cold.  Errr…not!  I will try not to really complain, but every once in a while I feel a tinge of jealousy when I picture those cold season cities full of snowflakes, kids and families wearing warm jackets, and lots of hot cocoa consumption. For now, I’m trading in the dream of that epic winter experience for the warm coziness of our home kitchen. My own little nerds and I made simple and easy, winter wonderland cupcakes. And, I have to say, Liam and Gav nailed it!

Easy Winter Wonderland Cupcakes

Ok, moms, let’s do this!  First lesson – let your kids play with those little cupcake toppers, fighting it is just futile. Liam was grinning from ear-to-ear when I let him loose to play with the miniature animals.  You would’ve thought it was a matchbox car the way he slid it across the granite island.  As the playing died down, we switched into serious little nerds baking mode.

Easy Winter Wonderland Cupcakes

Where does one get these super adorable deer?  There are quite a few options available on the internet, but I always have a great experience with this vendor, Layer Cake Shop.  They do a great job curating some of the most adorable baking supplies and they’re always well displayed on their website. To the point where it makes me want to climb into their creative spreads and start eating everything (and playing, too).

Easy Winter Wonderland Cupcakes

It warmed this Sweet Nerd’s heart to watch the boys baking together.  They both always want to be master sous chefs, vying for this coveted baking position. When I heard the “no fair!” objections between the two, I’d shoot them my side-eye Cruella de Vil look that I’ve mastered from my many years of teaching in the classroom. It usually does the trick.

When the bickering subsides and I see these two finally working happily together, it makes me one proud mama.  And, can I say, this recipe just flowed easily! They were both so eager to get to the end part of decorating the cupcake that they were rolling with the punches, so to speak.

This recipe starts with the dries, then you add the butter.  Next, come the wet ingredients. Step by step, this recipe produces a beautiful moist vanilla cupcake.

Gavin and Liam had their own ideas about the rights of a sous chef.  See the shocked look on my face?!?  That was Liam sharing tip number two below.

Sous Chef Rite of Passage:

  1. Licking fingers is cool.
  2. Making minor fart sounds is perfectly acceptable chef behavior.
  3. Watching a spoon fall into batter like quicksand is pure fun.  Then, picking it up to use it again is fair game.

I can’t help but run a Q&A while we are baking. It is in my nerdy blood line coming from a family of teachers.  I am sure you might be rolling your eyes, I even want to, but Liam loves this mini interrogation and still raises his hand to tell me the right answer. Gavin thinks its lame, clearly from his 4th grade expression.

Easy Winter Wonderland Cupcakes

Liam owns this!  He loved filling the cupcake liners and it’s so easy-peasie for little ones.  Sometimes it’s tough to give up the control of being a neat freak in the kitchen. Ok, not sometimes, that really is the toughest part for me but how could you say no to that face! The memories we were making in that moment were so worth the quick clean up.  You fellow type A’s out there, just breathe, smile, and enjoy those little nerds.

Easy Winter Wonderland Cupcakes

Gavin and Liam were great about cleaning up their mess, too. The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree! We talked about what would happen if we didn’t clean up those itty bitty drops of cupcakes on the tin if they stayed there. Liam knew where I was headed with this line of questioning (little bugger), and he wondered if they might turn into little bitty cupcakes for itty bitty babies.  HA!  He is a quick one, and loves a good banter.

But let’s be real, clean up is just part of the job. Good? Bad? Not sure, but I figured if I really want to cultivate little chefs in the kitchen, then they have to learn about cleanliness in the kitchen.  Good habits start pronto.

I love how fluffy and beautiful these vanilla bean cupcakes look and taste.  DEE-LISH!

Easy Winter Wonderland CupcakesOnce the cupcakes are ready for decorating, get your materials lined up and start piping that sweet billowy buttercream on top.  I tried to demo it a few times for them, but the truth is that they won’t learn until they do it themselves.  Liam loved the look of what he described as white ‘doo-doo’. Aw, keep smiling mommas, we’re almost there!

Easy Winter Wonderland Cupcakes

We piped the icing together to help him get a feel of how to top off the cupcake!  It was so fun.  Hand on hand, and we were both loving the connection.  Can I just freeze time?  It can only be a mom’s wish that he continues to have birthday parties, but never gets a year old. Sigh, yea, it’s just a dream.

Easy Winter Wonderland Cupcakes

After we piped the buttercream, we plopped it in the refrigerator for a few minutes.  Then voila, onto dipping these sweet, winter wonderland cupcakes into some fluffy coconut snow.  Dip, roll, and press slightly…let the good times roll.

Finally, (drum roll here), they get to put in those cute little spotted deer and place a few silver trees to inspire a natural (or not so natural) looking habitat.  The shimmer and shine of the trees captivated them and we had fun making a variety of snowy combinations.

Easy Winter Wonderland Cupcakes

So let it snow mommas, whether you’re on the west or east coast, this recipe is sure to bring winter wonderland fun into your sweet home kitchen.

Photos by: Maria Hedrick Photography

Easy Winter Wonderland Cupcakes
Easy Winter Wonderland Cupcakes

Winter Wonderland Cupcakes

By TheSweetNerd  

November 29, 2017

Cupcake Recipe Adapted From Cooks Illustrated
Frosting Recipe From Jennifer Shea, Craftsy

  • Prep: 15 mins
  • Cook: 20 mins



2 1/4 cups cake flour (9 ounces), plus more for dusting the pans

1 cup whole milk, at room temperature

6 large egg whites (3/4 cup), at room temperature

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 3/4 cups granulated sugar (12 1/4 ounces)

4 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon table salt

12 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 1/2 sticks or 6 ounces), softened but still cool

Easy American Buttercream Frosting

3 cups (680 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature

6 cups confectioners sugar, sifted

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1/4 teaspoon salt


1-2 cups shredded coconut (as needed)

Toppers, such as reindeer or trees (Layer Cake Shop)



1Glass Measurer: Pour milk, egg whites, and extracts into 2-cup glass measure, and mix with fork until blended.

2Mixer: Mix cake flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in bowl of electric mixer at slow speed.

3Add butter; continue beating at slow speed until mixture resembles moist crumbs, with no powdery streaks remaining.

4Add all but 1/2 cup of milk mixture to crumbs and beat at medium speed (or high speed if using handheld mixer) for 1 1/2 minutes.

5Add remaining 1/2 cup of milk mixture and beat 30 seconds more. Stop mixer and scrape sides of bowl. Return mixer to medium (or high) speed and beat 20 seconds longer.

6Divide and scoop batter evenly into cupcake liners.

7Bake at 350F. Bake until thin skewer or toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 10-12 minutes. Let cool completely before frosting.

Easy American Buttercream Frosting

1Cream the butter in a standing mixer. Aerate room temperature butter for about 1 minute on medium speed.

2Add the sugar, about 1 cup at a time, until it is fully incorporated. Then add the next cup and incorporate again. Repeat until you have added all the sugar. (Be sure to scrape down in between mixing). Last, add the vanilla and salt. Beat at low speed for 15 seconds until incorporated. Finally, whip (on medium to high speed) for about 4-5 minutes until light and fluffy.


1Scoop or pipe a mound on top of the cupcake.

2Then flip over and dip into coconut until the top is covered. Dip lightly so you don't smash the shape of the frosting.

3Top with deer or xmas tree adornments and enjoy!



Easy Winter Wonderland Cupcakes


  • i am blown away by how great your are with your boys in the kitchen. i need to channel my inner cindy when i cook breakfast with my two on the weekend. you have such a great attitude about leading the way, not micro-managing, teaching them to clean up and of course having fun. wish we could have a group bake-off sometime!

    • 8 years ago

      Hoping that one of these days we can do a bake-off. Would love that. Thanks for the sweet comments.

  • This post is what the holidays are all about! I love seeing your boys in the kitchen with you… Two chips off the sweet block! Such beautiful memories that you’re making! Gorgeous cupcakes on every level!! 🙂

    • Cindy "TheSweetNerd" Rodriguez
      8 years ago

      Thanks Annie! It gets messy, but it is fun!

    • Cindy "TheSweetNerd" Rodriguez
      7 years ago

      Thanks Annie! Sorry so late in responding, I hosted the Holidays this year, and whew it was hectic. Appreciate the sweet comments. Cheers!

  • April Davila
    8 years ago

    I love baking with the kiddos! And here in LA, we kind of have to take the snow where we can get it, right? And anyway, I think I’d take the edible kind over the kind that needs to be shoveled. Anyhow – totally adorable post!

    • Cindy "TheSweetNerd" Rodriguez
      7 years ago

      So true April, we have to take winter any which way we can get it.

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