So, my cakes turned out great! I went with salted caramel to accent the mini chocolate cupcakes, it was a big hit. Also, I have learned that if you just spend a few bucks on a proper cake board and a box to transport your cake, people will think you are a total fucking professional even if your piping skills are absolute crap, as mine clearly are. I should take one of those Wilton classes at Michael's or something. I try to be patient but I think I'm just not coordinating the movement right, idk. Has anyone ever taken one of those classes or otherwise have piping wisdom to bestow?
Also, those of you who now think I am a complete heathen after declaring my hatred for buttercream will be pleased to know that I did not entirely hate this buttercream that I made. It's a Swiss meringue buttercream but I adjusted the meringue to butter ratio so it wasn't quite so buttery and it was pretty good. I have no idea how it worked out quite so well because I broke a yolk in my egg whites and it was kind of humid but it meringued up beautifully, so perhaps the buttercream gods were working hard to sway me in their favor.