So my boy brought home a note from school last week asking me to bring 20 cupcakes for his class party tomorrow. Hooray! This means I can go to school with him tomorrow, watch him interact with all the little cuties in his class, and take some photos of his little Christmas program. So, yeah. Cupcakes. Easy enough.

What. The. Hell? Do I expect too much? Are my expectations unrealistic? Or am I just that huge of a moron that I’m incapable of making 20 cupcakes. For preschoolers. Mother of God, a happy balance would be nice. Here, with no mincing of words, is how this venture unfolded.

Last week, Nicholas and I went to the craft store. We bought cute Christmasy cupcake papers, a frosting knife, some Christmas sprinkles. We were asked not to bring chocolate, so we bought some frosting and nice yellow cake mix. I bought some frosting bags and tips a few weeks ago, so the plan was laid: yellow cupcake, white frosting with a little swirl on top, some sprinkles. It would be a beautiful sight, and not too taxing.

Hahaha. Allow me to repeat this to make my point. Hahaha.

I never make cupcakes. I realized tonight that I had but one muffin pan. So I ran out and bought a muffin pan (and stocking stuffers, so that’s okay). Nicholas was going to help make the cupcakes for his class, but he has a pretty nasty cough, so I thought it best that he watch a movie while I baked. This, however, sparked the idea for a book title–Don’t Cough in the Cupcakes: A Guide to Baking with Children. But I digress. πŸ˜‰

I came home and pulled out the cake mix. I nearly always make chocolate cake when I bake, so I had just pulled a yellow mix off the shelf. This wasn’t a standard mix, though. This mix required an entire stick of butter. And all the butter in the house was in…the freezer. Did you know that it’s pretty near impossible to soften butter in the microwave? It is! You wind up melting it. And did you know that when you pull out the bowl containing the melted–not softened–butter, you will inevitably burn the hell out of your finger? You will!

The box directed me to beat the batter for four minutes with a mixer. So I did. And I put away some dishes with my free hand. And then…there was just no good way to get the batter into the little cups. It was very thick and extremely rich…the ice-cream scoop didn’t work; I couldn’t pour it. I settled on a tablespoon and filled the cups. But instead of rising, as good cupcakes should, these hit the top of the pan and spread out. Like, really spread out. So I pried them out of the pan, they cooled…and there was just no way you could serve these, even to kids in pre-k. So I tried sawing off the overflowing edges. This was fine, but the crumbs stuck in the frosting. I tried covering the edges in sanding sugar, but they were just hideous. My husband said they’re just for preschoolers…no one will notice…but someone always notices the ugly cupcakes. You know darn well that the two snooty moms who could never be bothered to talk to you will be present and will sneer at your subpar cupcakes.

So, back to the mixing bowl. Another stick of butter. Another four minutes mixing. I readied my pastry bag with a big round top to semi-fill the cups. I ate one of the ugly cupcakes. And then another. Because even though they’re hideous, they’re delicious. But gone were my plans to fill my pastry bag with frosting and make a little swoopy swirl on top of winter wonderland cupcakes. The cupcakes are flat, the frosting is flat, and the tops are dipped in a mix of “gourmet” red and green sugar and Christmas nonpareils.

I know someone who spends an entire week crafting a birthday cake for each of her kids. She fashions fondant into Bob the Builder, sea creatures, monkeys, Elmo…you name it. She does it all by hand, for tier upon tier of cake. I think she’s insane, because she could easily pay to have someone create a boutique cake. But more than that, I’m jealous of her mad skills. Because she can do that. And I can’t even make pretty cupcakes for preschoolers. I don’t know what the deal is. I’m a reasonably skilled and intelligent and creative and culinary-abled person. This shouldn’t be beyond my ability. Or, more precisely, it shouldn’t be beyond my ability without burning the hell out of my finger, completely wrecking my kitchen, and having to do the process twice.

So forgive me tomorrow when I think “here are your fucking cupcakes” as I dole them out to the adorable pre-k kids. I’m happy to help out, but next time I’m lobbying for brownies. Oy.

**I took a photo of the accursed cupcakes at the party today. They were incredibly delicious, and the kids (and some of the dads) couldn’t have cared less. But, yeah. Ah, well. Laugh if you must. :P**