Despite the lack of the cute, flowered tablecloth, I think this might be my biggest success to date, especially since the multi-step recipe reminded me a lot of the peppermint cake that started this whole thing.
The cake batter called for an electric mixer, but seemed to come together fine with just Corinne and my combined massive arm strength.
I forgot to take a picture of just this cream portion, which we piped into the center of the cupcakes and which, was definitely the least successful component due to its makeup: crisco, margarine and sugar. The recipe called for superfine sugar and now I totally understand since our regular sugar never really blended properly/ tasted very grainy.
Next, we dipped the cupcakes into a chocolate ganache made with soymilk instead of whipping cream:
Then, we let the faux-cream-stuffed, ganache-dipped cupcakes chill out in the refrigerator (and think about life for a while) while we whipped up the Royal Icing component (using soy milk instead of the $$$ soymilk powder) and then practiced making those famous swirls on a black plate so that by the time we were ready for the real deal, we were old pros:
Of course, then we became complacent and overconfident. Note bottom left cupcake.