Before Morning: Snow Day Cupcakes


There are few things more exciting than waking up to a world covered in snow and hearing that you have an unexpected day off of school or work. Snow days are one experience that remain just as satisfying in adulthood as they were when I was a child. My favorite part of a snow day is the chance to slow down and do things together that simply take too much time on a normal day:  cooking up a hearty breakfast, simmering a pot of soup or broth for hours, doing a complicated art project, snuggling up to read lots of books on the couch. A snow day feels like a break from real life, permission to take things easy for just a day and, in our house, this extends to the way we eat. Instead of the usual oatmeal for breakfast and healthy packed lunch, we often bake a batch of cupcakes, cookies, or brownies that add to the festive feeling of having a day off.


I have never read a book that captures the feeling of a snow day better than Before Morning by Joyce Sidman. Written in the form of a wish or prayer, the simple text of Before Morning works with the lovely, detailed illustrations by Beth Krommes to tell the story of a family who longs for just one day to slow down together. After a tearful goodbye at the beginning of the book, a child is going to bed just as her mother heads off to her job as an airline pilot. But then snow begins to fall, leading to cancelled flights and an unexpected snow day for the family to spend together. At the beginning of this book, we see the girl looking longingly at a bakery window full of treats, as her family hurries through their day. The snow day gives them a chance to savor time together and bring home a box of cupcakes too. I loved this detail in the book because it seems to symbolize how special the snow day is; it’s a time for being together – and treats!

The cupcakes in Before Morning have soft, white icing that looks just like the snow in the book. They inspired me to try and create a snowy looking cupcake of my own. I ended up with a rich, chocolately cupcake that tastes a little like hot cocoa and simple whipped cream frosting stiffened with powdered sugar. The stiffer whipped cream can be piped to create a soft, snowy-peak shape. I topped them off with some sparkling sugar sprinkles to look like snow, glittering in the sunlight. I like the contrast of rich, chocolate cake with the light, sweet whipped cream, rather than a thick buttercream frosting, and it’s so easy to make too!

Snow Day Cupcakes

Makes 12 cupcakes

Time:  40 minutes



For the cupcakes:

3/4 cup all-purpose flour

1 cup white sugar

6 Tablespoons cocoa powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1 egg, at room temperature

1/2 cup buttermilk

1/4 cup olive oil

1 Tablespoon vanilla extract

1/2 cup hot coffee

Whipping Cream frosting:

2 cups heavy whipping cream

1/2 cup powdered sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Edible glitter or sparkling sugar, optional

  1. For cakes: Preheat oven to 350ºF and line a 12-cup cupcake pan with liners. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder and salt until well-combine. In a separate bowl or measuring cup, whisk together the egg, buttermilk, olive oil and vanilla.
  2. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir with a wooden spoon until just starting to combine. Pour in the hot coffee and beat briskly with the spoon until the batter is smooth completely combined.
  3. Pour the batter evenly into the 12 prepared cupcake liners, filling each about 2/3 full. Bake in the preheated oven for 15 to 18 minutes or until batter is just set and toothpick inserted in the center of one of the cakes comes out clean. Cool for one hour before frosting.
  4. For frosting: Pour the cream into a chilled metal mixing bowl. Add the powder sugar and vanilla extract then beat with an electric beater, or by hand with a large balloon whisk, until stiff peaks form. Use a piping bag with a large tip to pipe the stiff cream on top of the cupcakes, or spoon it on with a spatula. Sprinkle tops of cakes with edible glitter or sparkling sugar to look like glittery snow. Refrigerate until ready to serve. This stiffened whipped cream will stay good in the refrigerator for a few days.