Beth’s Recipe For Birthday Success


four brand new, never-before-tried-by-you recipes

extremely limited time

a complete lack of necessary kitchen appliances

a three year old and a one year old

a rough ETA for the arrival of the majority of your in-laws

a husband who is to be surprised for this birthday extravaganza, leaving him completely bewildered as to why you would need 2 hours to make, what he thinks, is one batch of cupcakes, and is totally frustrated by the fact that you say we don’t have time for him to mow the lawn


Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees

When filling cupcake cups with batter, be sure to overfill, so that all of them overflow into each other and have to be cut apart in order to get them out of the pan.

Begin making the chocolate frosting, the first of 3 separate home-made frosting recipes to be made as the clock ticks on and your in-laws inch closer and closer. Establish that you do not have a double boiler, whatever that is, and decide to microwave the chocolate instead. Forget to add additional milk at the end, resulting in a very thick, difficult-to-spread yet very tasty chocolate frosting, not unlike the consistency of fudge. Declare the frosting for your Aunt-in-law’s birthday cupcakes done.

Decide, because you are crunched for time, to do the last two frosting recipes simultaneously. Begin by bringing a sugar water concoction to a boil with the intent of creating a “sugar syrup” for the lemon marshmallow frosting meant for your husband’s birthday cupcakes.

As it comes to a boil, begin the 3rd recipe for a strawberry cream cheese frosting for your baby’s first birthday cupcakes. As you follow this recipe to a “T,” wonder why it looks like a runny soup with snotty pieces of mashed strawberry mixed in. Re-read the recipe approximately 9 times, trying to figure out where you have gone wrong. Try to decipher what in the recipe, exactly, is meant to thicken this strawberry soup. Note that it says one “may add up to 1/2 cup extra confectioner’s sugar to reach proper consistency.” Do this.  Do this again. Repeat one more time. Realize, once you have added over 2 extra cups of powdered sugar, that this shit is not going to thicken.


Wonder what that smell is.

Quickly remove boiling sugar water (from 2nd recipe), now dark brown and sizzling, from the stove top and run to dump into sink. When dumping, be sure to splash boiling mixture all over yourself, creating multiple searing, droplet sized burns over your arms and chest, and leaving you with sticky burned syrup all over your body that can still be found in various places 2 days later.

Wash pan. Decide to make second attempt at sugar syrup sans distraction. With great wisdom, choose NOT to trash strawberry soup, knowing full well that you may still need it if things continue down this path.

Set second sugar water mixture to boil.  Stand at stove and watch it like a freaking crazy person. Watch it appear to thicken slightly. Make the mistake of thinking it may actually turn into a syrup and you might succeed. Note that there is still no sign of the “thin threads” that should be dropping from the spoon. Watch it go immediately from liquid form to crunchy coated within seconds. Try, desperately to salvage some of the damn mixture and get it into the bowl where it is to be mixed with the marshmallows, which need to be melted via the “syrup’s” heat.

Realize, while mixing syrup and marshmallows, that the scraping sound coming from the bowl is several pieces of tiny, crystallized sugar, not unlike small pebbles, littering your “frosting.” Stare, in horror, at the sad, half-melted marshmallows and rock sugar, wondering why you are so incompetent.


Go back to pan of syrup which was meant to “continue simmering” while you melted the marshmallows. Discover it is totally solid. Attempt to pry spoon from rock formation. Declare the pot and spoon casualties.

sugar syrup

Head back your strawberry soup, which is now looking damn good, and slop some of it onto a few cupcakes, racing to the refrigerator in hopes of forcing the coating to solidify enough that it can be served to your FREAKING IN-LAWS and your baby on his FIRST FREAKING BIRTHDAY.

straw cake

Go to your husband and admit what you have done, explaining to him why you have been in the kitchen for a full two hours, why he was not allowed to mow the lawn which has not been mowed in a month, and show him what you have accomplished in that time.

Listen to your in-laws walk in saying, “What’s burning?”

26 Responses

  1. Hey… I’m pretty sure that I have made that chocolate frosting before… I ended up flattening out pancakes of frosting by hand and sort of artfully draping them across cupcakes. Like a hat. A very ugly patta-poo hat.

  2. The strawberry cupcakes look pretty good. Forgive me for not forcing you to help me in the kitchen when you were growing up. But I must say that after 35 years of cooking, I still would never try to do a sugar mixture– especially without a candy thermometer. I am sure everyone loved the cupcakes though.

  3. I admire your ambition! Should I feel guilty for not even attempting to make my own frosting for Baby’s first cupcake? And is “pink” a flavor?

  4. I think it speaks volumes about your character that you had enough sense of humor to take photos of your attempts… I would have a been crying and throwing things by then :) And sending hubby to the store to buy frosting in a can, of course.

  5. I love your ambition. Everything was great in the end, right?

    Happy Belated Birthday to Robby.

  6. Whew! BUY the frosting, next time.

    Happy birthday, Robbie!

  7. This sounds like something that could easily have happened in MY kitchen. I’m sure that things tasted good though. Why do we feel compelled to bake for our children’s birthdays? And then we put so much pressure on ourselves… Last year I worked so hard to achieve the right ‘red’ for Elmo’s head. He simply couldn’t have a pink head. And to achieve it without it tasting bitter… a feat.

    I hope you were able to enjoy yourself after the kitchen stress.

  8. It was all wonderful!

  9. Kudos for trying!! I was cracking up the whole time I was reading this post. I love how the in-laws asked what was burning. Priceless!

  10. Hey, you forgot to mention stopping mid strawberry-marshmallow-cream cheese mess to take pictures for the blog!

    We live parallel lives, have I mentioned that before? On Jayce’s first birthday my wonderful in laws were here and my FIL decided to replace the kitchen sink on the day of the party. The party in which I expected about 25 friends and neighbors to show up. The day I was supposed to be making cupcakes, potato salad and homemade ice cream. I was washing dishes at the hose spout in the front yard when the first of our guests showed up. KLASSY!

  11. sorry. but that. was. HILARIOUS.

    i have totally done that. i seem to only try new recipies when i have an audience ;-)

  12. BWHAHAHAHA! It sounds delicious. Well, at least the recipe did. :-)

  13. It’s the thought that counts, right?? I give you two thumbs up for trying. I would have headed to the local bakery. Great post format by the way. I have to admit I chuckled, but I did feel a tug at the heart as I felt your pain. Those freaking in-laws!!! Gotta say though that those strawberry frosted cupcakes are speaking to me right now!!

  14. This is a freakishly accruate description of what happens “anytime” people come over to my house for dinner, lunch, or the occasional party LOL

  15. This is bringing back memories of several occassions where I try to cook something that I should not. And I never learn the lesson. Never.

    Sorry it was so stressful for you! I actually really like the looks of the strawberry frosted ones, though. You’re really making me want a cupcake!

  16. Hilarious! Thanks for the laugh. You need to go get a massage or something!

  17. HAAH! Doesn’t that just suck! Birthday Party’s are always so stressful! I hope your little one had a great party though!

  18. I’m ROFL. I think the funniest part is that you took the time to take pictures!! I hope he had a great b-day. My daughter just turned one and it was the fastest year of my life.

  19. Oh heavens!

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  22. OMG. you are too funny! i wish i could have come over and helped you with it all! it would have been so fun!

    i’m sure robby would have eaten whatever you made just because you made it.
    : )

    i can’t believe my little girl will be a year next month. totally freaking crazy.

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