Baking cupcakes to take to school for birthdays is ordinarily quite enjoyable, but I hadn't been able to get around to it until after ten, so by the time all 36 cupcakes were cooling their heels, it was close to midnight, and I started mixing my standard goo for the top of the muffins--powdered sugar, melted butter, cream, dash of vanilla . . . all of which is great for the sated taste buds of American kids, and common to American cupcake recipes--in fact, to cupcake recipes in the English-speaking world. But these German kids take their cake medium-sweet. The afternoon custom of "coffee and cake" here means a round hunk of supermarket sponge-cake, not particularly sweet, topped by raspberries, strawberries, peaches or canned pineapple suspended in a not-too-sweet gelatin known as Tortenguss. This translates approximately as "fruit tart glaze," but it's not what you'd think of as a glaze, going by my got-enough-sugar-to-give-you-diabetes Fanny Farmer cookbook recipe for strawberry tart. I guess if you're eating "cake" as they call it here every day, you can't take the buttery, creamy, calorie-crammed stuff that Americans reserve for birthdays and special occasions, unless you live in the deep South.
The short version of this tale is that after I stayed up past midnight making sure each cupcake was cool enough to frost, frosted it, and tucked them all in portable carrying dishes, I was chagrined to hear, "Mommy, they're too sweet!" For more than around a fourth of my daughter's fifth-grade class, those cupcakes were too sweet.
But not for glazed-eyed me, licking that spoon to stay awake.