Saturday, June 14, 2008

Bees and Beer

Today Just Barely the Youngest turned one and a half years old. When she was born less than two weeks before Christmas, we decided we wouldn't make a big fuss over Addison's birthday and celebrate her half birthday instead. Because the child loves bugs (points to them, picks them up, eats them, etc), and because "bumble bee" is one of the few words in her language arsenal, I decided to make her bumble bee cupcakes for her big half day. Addison's rendition of "bumble bee" was really cute, but I hadn't been able to capture it on camera yet. With visions of her eyes lighting up as she excitedly pointed to her cupcake, all the while saying "bumble bee" for the video camera, I bought yellow cake mix, vanilla icing, yellow food coloring, and a tube of black frosting.

I made the yellow cupcakes in yellow paper cups. So far so good. It took an absurd amount of yellow food coloring to turn the vanilla icing bumble bee yellow, but these were going to look great! I frosted a practice cupcake and cut the tip off of the tube of black icing so I could draw on the stripes. The black food coloring that had pooled at the top of the tube while it was at the store exploded everywhere. I should have taken this as a sign to stop where I was and be happy with my cupcakes with the nice yellow icing. But nooooo! I had to made bumble bees. The stripes on the first bee ran all over the place. It looked like it was melting, which was not the image of the bumble bee I was looking to present to my daughter. I tried again with a new cupcake. This time the frosting came out thicker and looked much better. I outlined his little black head and filled it in as best I could, but I had to do some touch up spreading with a knife. Rather than smooth things out, though, the icing just stuck to the knife and pulled up a bunch of the cake. This was going to take more finesse than I had anticipated. One beer and lots of cursing later, the thing had stripes and a face. The next obstacle I faced was the wings. How the hell do you put wings on a cupcake? I turned to the recycling bin to help. (That's right, I put garbage on my kid's cupcake.) A quick rummage through the plastics yielded two strawberry containers, from which I cut out a pair of plastic wings that I stuck on the top of its back. I had the first bee done. At the rate I was going, though, it was going to take an hour to finish a half dozen bees. I quit after the third (bee and beer)--everyone else was just going to have to imagine that their yellow cupcakes had stripes and faces.

After dinner we lit the one candle that was on top of the cupcake as well as the half-a-candle I had rammed up the bee's backside to represent both its stinger and the other half of the year Just Barely the Youngest had been a part of our family. She looked puzzled as we put in front of her a cupcake that had fire coming out of its top and rear end. "What is it?" I asked with the camera running. She said nothing. Steve helped her blow out the candles, and still she just stared. In the end we had to tell her it was a bee and after much encouragement she finally said the "bumble" for the camera. I waited for her to take a bite out of her cupcake. Instead the child proceeded to sit there and carefully remove and then consume first the face of the bee and then his black stripes. There was black frosting everywhere, but at least she was having fun.

"Addison, do you like your bumble bee cupcake?" I wanted a big bite of cake, smiles and much "bumble bee"ing for the camera. Instead she looked at the empty bottles sitting on the counter, said "Beer!" and went back to eating black frosting. That was good enough for me.

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  1. Those cupcakes are great! We celebrated half birthdays growing up. It was really fun, and something I'd forgotten until I read your post.

  2. I think they look wonderful!! You go Martha Stewart. I once used red icing to write "happy birthday" on my husband's cake, but it looked like the devil had written it. It was that scary. You will do all my icing from now on!!!

  3. A couple of times a year, my friend and I attempt to do Clone Trooper cupcakes that we found in a Star Wars cookbook (yes, I do own that cookbook...I'm a geek). I'm thinking by the time her oldest is 18 we will have it down. It usually looks like a blind person attempted to "draw" the proper clone trooper helmet design on the cupcake. We also have tried 3 times to make a Death Star pinata (sp?). We get better with each try. The first one looked like a giant ball of duct tape...with glitter!

  4. Now THAT I've got to see a picture of! When we lived in Peoria we had (and still have) friends who, every year, would have an "adult pinata" filled with every thing from mini liquor bottles to beef jerky... and worse.