Making cupcakes with my kids in 8 steps

My Europe-dwelling friends may recall the early stages of my disgruntled stay-at-home-mommahood in which I tried to funnel my creative frustration and disorganized perfectionism into an attempt at actual domestic bliss. There were even a fleeting few months in which I baked. Like, weekly. (With a cute, second-hand, heart-shaped silicone muffin pan.) I like to call it my “Muffin Period.”

My Muffin Period was brief because it often necessarily involved the “help” of our then toddler daughter, which could only be managed in that relative calm between when our infant son’s colic stage ended and his walking/climbing stage really took off. Once he outgrew the baby wrap, I resorted back to the “F**k Baking” mentality in which I normally thrive.

But every now and again, like during the monotony of Easter Break week, I notice our daughter pretending to “bake” something (usually a bowl she’s filled with some water, salt, and a stray raisin and is now trying to put in the oven, and I get a little nostalgic for those (not at all bad, mind you) muffins and think: What the hell? Let’s make some chocolate fudge cupcakes! (Cue the children’s cheers.)

Step 1: Tidy the kitchen and account for/gather all necessary ingredients.

cupcake ingredients


Just kidding! Did I mention that I’m that rare species of perfectionist that is utterly disorganized (not to mention directionally impaired)? I may require this operation to flawlessly succeed, but no way am I not going to just launch right into the first two steps without first clearing the counters or making sure we have confectioner’s sugar, vanilla extract, whipping cream, or enough of anything. With two small kids pushing chairs over to “help stir.”

Wheeee! Here we go!

Step 2: Curse aloud while realizing too-late you chose a European recipe, and don’t understand the measurements.

In addition to never revising my distaste for mayonnaise, I also never adapted to metric cooking. In almost five years, we’ve never even bought a food scale. And let me tell you, every European recipe gives measurements by weight. In grams.

So now it’s time to individually Google the conversion to cups for every single ingredient, while snapping at the kids to stop touching the laptop’s screen with their already sticky fingers.

Step 3: Give up on giving them halfway “helpful” tasks like pouring and just start providing chocolatey bowls and utensils for licking.

Chocolate cupcake kids


Turn the kid’s table into a veritable Licking Station. This will buy some time and space with which to rummage through the booze for a suitable substitute for vanilla extract. (Yeeeees, amaretto will do nicely.)

4. While cupcakes bake, make frosting and/or stare at mounting pile of dishes.

cupcake dishes


I never have confectioner’s sugar. Never remember I need it until I need it. So, time to dirty yet another pot to melt regular sugar into a chocolatey glaze. Good though. Gooey-gooey. More for the Licking Station!

5. Feed kids first two cupcakes mere seconds after they’ve been frosted

cupcake crumbs


Because they are literally trying to climb onto your shoulders while you frost them. Turn to frost the rest while the kids’ table turns into a post-battle scene of cupcake-crumb carnage.

6. Wash kids/dishes/tables/floors/walls

Cupcake bath


…while improvising a song about a fudgey, gooey chocolate nightmare Armaggedon. Then change clothes since kids have been wiping their hands all over your jammy pants the whole time.

7. Add splash of amaretto to coffee and put kids in front of screen for a spell.



Vanilla extract is nice, but no where near as fun (or helpful)…

8. Hours after the nausea induced by chocolate smeared over every flat surface in the kitchen has worn off, remember that you made chocolate (amaretto!) cupcakes. Enjoy!

cupcakes final


Aaaaand, perfection.

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