Monday, February 25, 2013

Nascar Party Snacks

I'll get to the Nascar bit in a minute.
Remember when we were kids, and our moms would spend a few hours making great snacks for our class to share on birthdays, Christmas, Valentine's Day? Now that we are parents, we get to spend ten minutes at the grocery store, buying something prepackaged and full of preservatives - because the powers that be all over the country have decided that is much healthier.
I love to bake (shocker!), so when C. joined the local 4H, and discussion turned to providing snacks, I somewhat cautiously asked the other parents if they would mind homemade goodies. Psh - silly question - we're mountain folk, our kids eat dirt on occasion, and as long as they don't dribble it on the clean carpet, we're good.
Even better, the next meeting was February 12, Mardi Gras! I was already making this layered Jell-O for home, for Valentine's Day, so I made extra for the 4H-ers. To celebrate Mardi Gras, I divided cake batter into three bowls and died them purple, green and red. A spoonful of each in cupcake tins and they baked up looking very festive. Topped with cream cheese frosting, and liberally dusted with red, yellow, and green colored sugar by S., and I was quite pleased with the result.
Then it snowed, the meeting was postponed, and somebody whose name rhymes with "Daddy" ate all the cupcakes.
I still had the Jell-O squares, though, and I certainly didn't mind another excuse to bake, so I looked up obscure February holidays. The 19th, as it turns out, is National Mint Chocolate Day. A quick search of my favorite cookie cookbook turned up a sandwich made of what were supposed to be soft chocolate cookies with a minty frosting between them. Perfect!
Except, the cookies turned out so brittle, most of them crumbled when I took them off the cookie sheet.
Okay: I'm running out of time, but I have brownie mix. I can spread the minty frosting on top, and sprinkle it with those crumbled mint pieces I've had for a while.
Except, i forgot to add more flour to the brownie mix (high altitude), so it fell in the middle. And, the mint chips had melted and resolidified into one big chunk.
That's okay, the kids who get middle pieces will just have more frosting, and a few whacks with the rolling pin took care of the giant lump. Pretty! And done! Time for bed!
The next day I rushed home from work, warmed up a quick supper for the kids, and went to cut the brownies up before leaving for 4H. Hard. as. a. rock.
So, in the end, the kids got week-old Jell-O squares, and some prepacked, full of preservatives snacks I scavenged from C.'s lunch cabinet.
All this to say, I felt the need to redeem myself. Fortunately, we were invited to a Nascar party yesterday. I know the hosts would have been happy with a bag of chips, but my pride was now at stake!
Some internet searching for Nascar party snacks just came up with the usual 7-layer-dip and little smokies (which are also awesome), so I decided to fall back on the Mardi Gras cupcake success. I made two batches of cake mix, one white and one black, and started spooning a little bit of each, hoping it would resemble a checkered flag. About three spoonsful in, I decided this was NOT going to work. Then, I remembered how we iced the cake balls for S.'s birthday cake:
Perfect!!! I grabbed one in each hand and started squirting away. To my pleasant surprise, my little dollops formed themselves into squares:
I did three layers this way, then baked as usual, and this is how they came out:
Some got a little pinwheel-y, but still a much better effect than I was going to get dropping by spoons.
The bottoms held the pattern well:

Although the middles got a bit more splotchy:

Some cream cheese frosting and some black and white sprinkles, and we're ready to party!
The kids wanted to get in on the fun, too, so we practiced colors: 

*singing* One of these things is not like the others...
I was going to do the Nascar starting lights, but I couldn't find mini M&Ms, and there wasn't room for five regular ones. I didn't think anyone would mind - and they didn't. The traffic lights disappeared within half an hour of us getting there, and out of about 4 dozen cupcakes, I brought eight home. Redemption!
Now, what to make for 4H next month...

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