The Great Cupcake Debacle of 2015

Image from the Betty Crocker recipe for Boozy Bourbon Chocolate Cupcakes

The picture above was the expectation for my “Almost Birthday” cupcakes that I set out to make on Wednesday night.  I wanted to bring them into work to share with my co-workers on Thursday since I was taking off on Friday (my actual birthday) for a road trip to the coast.  The end result, and process leading up to it, went nothing as planned.

I had purchased all the ingredients on Tuesday night but I forgot to get containers to transport the cupcakes in so Wednesday night, after work, I stopped to pick up some containers.  Google told me there was a Walmart nearby my work but when I got there, I discovered it was a Walmart grocery store, not retail store.  Luckily, I found a Fred Meyer not too far away but the added driving made me a little later than I wanted in getting home to get started.  

I got started on the recipe around 7:00 PM. After carefully pouring the cupcake batter into each individual cupcake pan liner, I realized that I didn’t put the bourbon in.  I proceeded to pour each liner’s batter back into the bowl so I could mix in the bourbon.  Once all the batter was back in the bowl, a painstakingly slow and messy process,  I realized that the amounts of oil and water on the recipe were different than on the cake mix box.  Since the recipe said to follow the box directions, those were the amounts I used.  What the recipe actually intended was to follow the procedure on the box but use the ingredients and amounts from the recipe.  So now that my oil and water amounts were off for the cupcakes and I couldn’t proceed any further.  Wanting these cupcakes to be perfect, I determined I needed to start over.  Not wanting to waste the batter, I poured it into a cake pan and made a booze-free cake.  I then headed to the store to pickup another box of cake mix, more eggs and some frosting for the cake.

I got back from the store with my replacement ingredients around 9:00 PM.  I proceeded to mix everything together correctly and poured the batter into the liners, again, and baked the cupcakes as directed.  In the meantime, I mixed the ingredients for the filling and the ingredients for the frosting. Neither went smoothly.  The frosting turned out too thin but the recipe said to add more powered sugar if this happened until it was thick enough.  I kept adding more and more and more powered sugar until finally, it seemed to be thick enough.  Then, I read that the filling needed to cool in the refrigerator for at least 60 minutes before I could put it on the cupcakes.  So around 11:00 PM, I cut off the cupcake tops in anticipation of putting the filling on top.

Unfortunately, the filling did not thicken as it was supposed to in that 60 minute period of time so I put it in the freezer for about 20 minutes, hoping that would help.  It didn’t.  I kept checking back every 10 minutes or so to test the filling to see if it was getting thicker.  By 1:00 AM, the filling was still too thin to use so I decided to let it sit in the refrigerator overnight and put the cupcakes together in the morning before I went to work.

After walking Cole, I grabbed some ice out of the freezer so I could bring a glass of ice water into the bedroom with me.  When putting the ice cubes in the glass though, I noticed that the cubes were solid on the outside but watery on the inside.  I noticed the refrigerator wasn’t making any noise. I opened the freezer and there was no cool air coming out or moving around.  The same thing was happening (or not happening, depending on how you look at it) in the refrigerator.  Realizing that my refrigerator was not working, I started to fear that not only would my filling not thicken overnight, but that I would lose all my food too!

I fired up my computer to get the after hours maintenance number from the property website but discovered that the website was down for maintenance. My panic mode kicked into higher gear and I called the number listed on the “down for maintenance” page but the woman who answered was of no help.  Apparently, she wasn’t able to look up any numbers for the property either with the system down and made no attempt to offer any advice on what to do next. Luckily, after hangup up with her and calling the main number, I got the after hours maintenance number from the recording.  After explaining the situation to the answering service, they said they would have an on-call maintenance person call me.

Five minutes later, the refrigerator magically came back on.  It was a miracle!!  One minute after that with my cell phone in hand about to call the answering service back, a maintenance guy, visibly tired and irritated, showed up at my door.  After explaining that it was working again, and reassuring him it really was not working just a minute ago and that I wasn’t crazy, he left, clearly irritated and I’m sure, thinking I was a complete moron. At 1:30 AM, I finally laid down to try to get some sleep.  The moment my head hit the pillow though, my month-long cough kicked into action and it was clear I would not be sleeping anytime soon.  After about an hour, I decided that maybe a hot shower would help calm things down.  By 3:00 AM, I was back in bed and was able to fall asleep, eventually.

At 7:00 AM, Thursday, March 19th, my alarm went off and I quickly ran to the refrigerator to check on my filling.  It was thicker than when I last checked but still not the consistency that I wanted it to be.  I had no time left and therefore no choice but to use it.  After putting the filling on top of the cupcake bottoms, I put on the cupcake tops and then piped on the frosting I had made the night before, which seemed like a decent consistency. Unfortunately, five minutes after putting the frosting on the cupcakes, I realized that it was starting to lose it’s form and run down the sides of the cupcakes!!!!

At this point, I felt completely defeated.  With all my running around, hard work and lack of sleep, they still didn’t turn out when all I was trying to do was something nice in sharing a treat with my co-workers.  All I could do at that point was bring them in to work and explain that they may look bad but assure my coworkers that they tasted good.  Everyone agreed, they were delicious!  And since no one knew what they were supposed to look like, no one knew how truly ugly they were. They just assumed that the cupcakes were covered in icing.  Yes, that’s it, I meant to make icing, not frosting!

Below is a photographic journey through the Great Cupcake Debacle of 2015.  Next year, I’m buying a cake!!!

The ingredients

Battered is poured into the cupcake pan liners

What attempt #1 turned into:  a cake minus the bourbon
The cupcakes are cooling

The cupcake tops after being cut off

The cupcakes bottoms and tops

The cupcake bottoms with the filling on top

The finished product (container one) after 1 minute 🙂 

The finished product (container two) after 5 minutes 😦

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