Birthday Cupcakes: Worms in the Mud

In our family, we don’t do birthday cake.

We do birthday CUPCAKES.

Oh yes, it is as awesome as it sounds.

This year for my son’s birthday, we made these:

Rather perfect for a small boy’s birthday, no? Plus they’re super easy on the wallet, and totally achievable for those of us who were in the bathroom when they were handing out crafty skills in heaven.  I know, because I made up the idea on the spot when I realized that it was the big day and all I had to work with was what I had in my pantry.

  • 1 boxed cake mix, or standard size cake recipe of choice [we did Pillsbury Fun-fetti]
  • 1 tub frosting, or standard frosting recipe of choice [we did Pillsbury chocolate, can you tell what brand was on sale this month??]
  • 1 tube chocolate sandwich cookies, 15-20 cookies [we did plain Oreos]
  • 1 bag gummy worms [ours were sour and sugar-coated]
  • Mixing bowl
  • Small bowls
  • Mixer/mixing spoon
  • Spoons
  • 1 gallon sized plastic zip-top bag
  • Large rimmed sheet pan
  • Cupcake pan/s
  • Cupcake liners
  • Kitchen knife
  • Butter knife/spatula [to spread the frosting]
  • Cutting board


Step 1:  Prepare batter according to the directions on the box.

 Step 2: Assign smallest child to place liners in cupcake pan.

Step 3: Give each child a small bowl of batter as a diversion to put into their own liners.

Step 4: Drop batter by spoonfuls into each cupcake liner.  Fill 3/4ths full, or full enough so the tops will puff out of the liners [this will make frosting/decorating easier].

Step 5: Demonstrate batter-dropping technique to helpful preschoolers.

Step 6: Get busted eating the batter. [Nope, we never saw this one coming.]

Step 7: Bake according to the directions on the package.

Step 8: Wait patiently for cupcakes to finish baking.

Step 9: Clean up to make time go faster.

Step 10: Since time doesn’t seem too obliging, get everything else ready.  Put 15-20 chocolate sandwich cookies in a plastic zip-top bag.  Lay the bag on a cutting board, and hammer away with the backs of spoons until cookies are sufficiently pulverized.

Step 11: Have the requisite spoon duel.

Step 12: [not shown] Cut 24-30 gummy worms in half.

Step 13: When the cupcakes are completely cool, set them in a rimmed baking sheet [this will make cleanup WAY easier].  Frost each cupcake with generous layer of chocolate frosting.  While the frosting is still wet and soft, press two worm halves into the frosting, and top with a small handful of cookie  powder crumbs.

Step 14: DIG IN!

What birthday traditions does your family have? Do you have a favorite way to decorate baked goods?  We have another birthday coming up soon, so I can use all the ideas I can get!

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