Monday, May 18, 2009

The Cupcake Tower

Cupcake Tower

My bestest friend’s daughter received first communion this past weekend and my friend asked me to make cupcakes for the party afterwards.

I immediately said sure. No problem. How many do you want?

She goes, “How about 50. Yeah, at least 50.”

50? Ummm… okay. Thinking in the back of my mind… How am I going to transport 50 cupcakes and still keep them as fresh as possible because I’ll have to make them the night before? And what am I going to carry them all in and put them on? Now, that may not sound like a lot to you guys, but it is when you’ve never done that many for someone else before and especially for a whole bunch of people you’ll have to look in the face if they don’t like them. I’m not a caterer, you know.… I tend to panic right before I bake. I’m weird like that

… and, then how to decorate them? What do you do for communion cupcakes anyway?


Luckily, I still had the invitation laying around, so I just used it for inspiration.

Fondant Cut Outs

And, after visiting several stores, I finally found a 4-tier Cupcake Tower from Wilton that would hold about 36 cupcakes. That was the biggest I could find, and seeing as how I waited until the last minute… I grabbed it.

I wanted each tier to alternate with the design, so I started planning and put my math skills to work.

12 + 8 + 1 = 21 (Excellent… Martha Stewart’s One Bowl Chocolate Cupcakes makes about 22.) Check! These will be chocolate cupcakes with pink tinted vanilla buttercream frosting. YUM!

10 + 6 = 16 (Yay… Half of this moist yellow cake recipe makes about 18) Perfect! These will be vanilla cupcakes with vanilla buttercream frosting. YUM! YUM!

Note: I doubled the buttercream recipe for each of these so I would have enough… especially for the swirly ones (made with the 1M tip).

But wait… that’s 37. Perfect for the cupcake tower, but I need 50. Not enough. (I got As in math, by the way.)

So I made another batch of cupcakes by halving this Easter cupcake recipe from a few weeks ago and a chocolate cream cheese frosting. I could have doubled one of the others, but I decided to make a third kind. That way I could have people choose their favorite chocolate one. I like feedback.

Fondant Cut Outs

The night before I made the cupcakes, I made these cute little toppers. I tinted some fondant pink and used my favorite set of double-sided graduated cutters to make the shapes. These were going on the vanilla cupcakes with vanilla buttercream frosting. They’ll really pop on white.

Fondant Cut Outs

Then, I tinted some more of the fondant a dark brown. To get it this dark, use brown and then add some violet until you get the right shade.

For the crosses, I photocopied the invitation and scaled it down until it was a size that would fit inside of the pink shape when cut out.

Then, all you have to do is roll out the fondant and cut it in rectangular shapes that match the height and width of the cross. Mine are a little uneven, but no worries.

Fondant Cut Outs
Because, you can make adjustments when you finish up the crosses. And all you do for that is remove sections from each of the four corners with a cutter until you are left with the remaining cross shape. Her invitation had edges that varied in width, so I used this tiny triangle cutter to do the job. You can just as easily use a square cutter and end up with evenly shaped sides.

Then, use a tiny dab of water on the underside of the crosses and attach them to the pink fondant cutouts. Easy.

Now I had plenty of toppers, plenty of cupcakes and plenty of frosting. But not plenty of room to showcase them. Remember, the tower only holds 36 and I now had 50 some odd cupcakes.

What to do? What to do?

Ask Martha of course. She always has an answer.


I found this beautiful display in my Martha Stewart Weddings Magazine (Spring 2009). They’re made of graduated hat boxes and wrapped with designs printed on card stock. Cool, huh. I got really excited and even thought about ditching the whole cupcake tower thing. She has very detailed instructions here. But, after reading, I realized they were for mini cupcakes. Nooooooo! And even though I got A’s in math, I didn’t feel like figuring out all the conversions to adjust. Yuck-o-rama.

So, I took her lead and went looking for hat boxes… in any size I could find. Which wasn’t many. I found big and round and that’s about it. So instead of stacking mine, I made two separate displays.

Communion Cupcakes

I think they came out super cute. If you look closely, the design is the same as the background in the invitation, above.

I copied the ornamental design and repeated the pattern on an 11X17 document and printed it out on heavyweight paper.

Then, I cut the paper horizontally in half in a wavy line that went in between two rows of the ornamental pattern. Does that make sense? Hope so.

Then, I trimmed off the outer edges since my printer won’t bleed the image to the edge of the paper and taped two of the pieces together to wrap around the hat box.

If I was Martha Stewart, I would have figured out precise measurements and made sure the patterns matched up at the meeting points, but I’m not and no one noticed that they were off by a hair.

Heck, no one even noticed that I used the pattern from the invitation. Bummer. I think I was more proud about that than the cupcakes.

Communion Cupcakes

And, ooooh, the cupcakes. They were so good. Especially these with the chocolate cream cheese frosting. But so were the other chocolate cupcakes with the pink buttercream… the cake was more chocolatey. It’s a draw, I guess. Notice the second set of fondant toppers I made… smaller and cuter.


Check this one out. After covered in frosting I put these giant chocolate sprinkles on.


A big thanks to my new friend Liz in Greece who sent them to me. I think they’re actually made in Belgium, though. Look how shiny and big they are compared to the normal chocolate sprinkles I usually find. They taste great, they come in a big box and they even have a handy pourable spout. I love ‘em!

Communion Cupcakes

And, so did she. The sprinkle ones were her favorite. She was so sweet. She almost made me tear up when she said they were the very best things I ever made for her.… then she said… except the Halloween Cake Pops … and except the Easter Basket Cupcakes. Cute. I’m just glad I made her smile.

Now… who wants a Cupcake Tower? I know. I know. I usually don’t do two giveaways in a row, but I actually liked this thing a lot!
Cupcake Tower
It’s simple and easy to use.

Cupcake Tower

It stays nested for storage and it even tilts slightly to give a better view of the cupcakes. And best of all, it was only $20 bucks! Score!

I liked it so much, I want someone else to enjoy it with me.

So, I’m gonna give away three of them.

Enter for a chance to win:
A Cupcake Tower
  • Just leave a comment on this post and tell me your favorite cupcake flavor combination. I’m curious.
  • Leave your comment with a way for me to contact you if you win (either a blog link or email)
  • Deadline to enter is Tuesday, May 19th at 5:00 p.m. WINNERS BELOW (recorded by the comment time stamp)
  • Three winners will be chosen at random* and announced sometime Tuesday evening on this post.

* One winner will be chosen at random, using’s integer generator.

Good Luck!

Oh my gosh, all the flavors you guys listed are making me crave some cupcakes. I’d take any flavor as long as I can have one right now… even coconut. And, by the way, I’m glad to see so many of you love red velvet as much as I do. And cream cheese frosting. Yum! Okay, let’s see who won from the 3,986 entries.

A big cupcake tower congrats to:
Commenter # 1879 – James-n-Amber
Commenter # 390 – Jessica
Commenter # 1796 – Camille

Amy McSwegin said...

Chocolate, chocolate, and more chocolate… I’m pregnant!

May 18, 2009 11:42 AM
Amanda said...

My fave is probably chocolate cupcakes with buttercream frosting. I know… boring… but so good!

May 18, 2009 11:42 AM
megan v said...

I really can’t think of any other kind that is better than chocolate with chocolate!! The cupcake you made with the chocolate sprinkles would probably be my ultimate cupcake :).

This is a fun giveaway! Maybe the winners will share their cupcake displays with you once they use the towers!

May 18, 2009 11:42 AM
Morgan said...

ooh, yes please! i just used martha’s one bowl chocolate recipe for my husband’s birthday cake. filled and frosted with whipped chocolate ganache. yum!!

May 18, 2009 11:42 AM
Jill said...

Those are adorable! I loooove cupcakes. My favorite is moist chocolate cake with vanilla buttercream. Although I recently made hostess-look-alike cupcakes, and they were incredible!

May 18, 2009 11:43 AM
Sharon said...

Your cupcakes are beautiful! Favorite: chocolate with chocolate.

cutnpiece at aol dot com

May 18, 2009 11:43 AM
JoAnn said...

I love Chocolate icing on chocolate cake. I cannot help it I love chocolate.


May 18, 2009 11:43 AM
Treasuresofjoy said...

I love a recipe I tried out for my daughters Birthday this year. It is chocolate muffins and it is on the Holly Hobbie website. They were so moist and buttercream!

May 18, 2009 11:44 AM
Jamieanne said...

Last week I made these amazing carrot cake cupcakes with maple cream cheese frosting. Right now, that is my favorite cupcake flavor combination!

These first Communion cupcakes look so beautiful!

seanik at gmail dot com

May 18, 2009 11:45 AM
Lisha said...

Chocolate with a chocolate ganache icing, best warmed with a little ice cream on the side.

Your cup cakes look delicious though.

May 18, 2009 11:45 AM
LaDonna F said...

I love any cupcake with a filling!

This is a great giveaway! Thanks =)

May 18, 2009 11:46 AM
212 said...

French vanilla cupcakes with cream cheese frosting…sooo rich and yummy!

May 18, 2009 11:48 AM
Adrianne M. LaFrance said...

hands down red velvet cupcakes with cream cheese frosting. but anything that in some way incorporates oreos would be a strong contender.

these are so lovely! love that all things chocolate worked so well with the color theme! or

May 18, 2009 11:49 AM
Heather said...

Carrot cake with cream cheese frosting!

May 18, 2009 11:49 AM
FutureMrsZ said...

Chocolate with cream cheese frosting. Mmmmmm, now I’m hungry.

May 18, 2009 11:49 AM
Jennifer said...

I don’t actually have a favorite cupcake *gasp* I know! But I did recently find a recipe for Strawberry Lemonade cupcakes that I’m dying to try.

May 18, 2009 11:49 AM
cloverstl said...

really rich chocolate cake made into chocolate cupcakes with a really smooth cream cheese frosting!

May 18, 2009 11:50 AM
Heather said...

My favorite cupcake combo thus far is lemon with lemon cream cheese frosting.

May 18, 2009 11:50 AM
Anonymous said...

Love a simple funfetti with vanilla frosting!

May 18, 2009 11:51 AM
Susan said...

Carrot with Cream Cheese Icing!

Beautiful cupcakes and display – I love the coordinated paper!

May 18, 2009 11:52 AM
greenbean said...

yellow cake, chocolate icing!

May 18, 2009 11:52 AM
Feener said...

good ol’ plain vanilla vanilla

i had a cupcake tower for my wedding, from buttercup bakery in NYC. i live and die for cupcakes

May 18, 2009 11:52 AM
Purelectricty said...

I love strawberry cake with cream cheese icing. nomnomnom!

I love how you really took the time to match the invitation. What a nice friend :)

May 18, 2009 11:53 AM
spirit-dog said...

Chocolate with more chocolate for me!

May 18, 2009 11:53 AM
Melissa said...

Chocolate cake with cream cheese icing…YUM!!!


May 18, 2009 11:54 AM
Erin said...

I love strawberry cupcakes with cream cheese frosting. Delish
ecmabon at gmail dot com

May 18, 2009 11:55 AM
Alli said...

I love chocolate and chocolate. Or vanilla and buttercream. Both sooooo yummy.

These cupcakes and cake pops have inspired me. I might be making a special trip to the craft store this week.

May 18, 2009 11:55 AM
Holly said...

Vanilla cupcakes with cream cheese icing. =oD

May 18, 2009 11:56 AM
julesann said...

I *love white cake* with buttercream frosting. Your cupcakes turned out beautiful and I, for one, appreciate that your paper matched the background on the invitation! Your attention to detail is so thoughtful.

May 18, 2009 11:56 AM
Courtney said...

Pink lemonade cake with lemon-cream cheese icing is by far my favorite!

May 18, 2009 11:56 AM
Anonymous said...

Absolutely adorable and yummy looking cupcakes.
my fav – banana nut with cream cheese frosting. mmm..mmm..good.

my niece is turning 2 in a month and cupcakes are on the menu…so the tower wud be perfect. I’ve got my fingers crossed! :-)

May 18, 2009 11:58 AM
Bindi said...

Chocolate & basil. Sounds odd but great combination.

May 18, 2009 11:58 AM
Anne said...

Oh I just love Red Velvet Cupcakes with Cream Cheese frosting! My favorite bakery in Hawaii made them from all organic ingredients and they are just amazing!

sonseeker82 at gmail dot com

May 18, 2009 11:58 AM
Lila said...

Chocolate with chocolate fudge frosting- it doesn’t get better than that.

May 18, 2009 12:00 PM
meghan1017 said...

Yellow cupcakes with chocolate frosting! Simple but delicious!

May 18, 2009 12:01 PM
Sue daisy said...

as a kid, i always liked marbled cake, with milk chocolate icing….
loved those large chocolate jimmies…did you evr hear them called jimmies?

May 18, 2009 12:01 PM
Cathy said...

I prefer chocolate cupcakes with vanilla icing. Yum!

May 18, 2009 12:01 PM
Judy said...

Wow! Stunning cupcakes and presentation! This would be perfect to display my son’s birthday cupcakes in two weeks! My email is judywitbeck at gmail dot com!

May 18, 2009 12:01 PM
Nichole said...

i really like chocolate cupcakes with vanilla buttercream frosting. so simple but so yummy.

May 18, 2009 12:01 PM
Lorie said...

Vanilla Cupcakes with coconut frosting.

May 18, 2009 12:02 PM
Mabry's gamma said...

Love chocolate with a buttercream frosting. Yum!

May 18, 2009 12:02 PM
Deb Hanna said...

I would love a cupcake tower! My husband only like chocolate cake with white frosting- so I make that a lot. But I have to say I love every flavor as long as it is moist.

May 18, 2009 12:02 PM
kpmattingly said...

I’m simple. I like yellow cake with chocolate icing! Love your cupcakes…they look so yummy!

May 18, 2009 12:02 PM
Courtney said...

Hubby And I lOVE the Red Velvet with Cream cheese Frosting

May 18, 2009 12:03 PM
Terri said...

Carrot with cream cheese!

May 18, 2009 12:03 PM
ShannanJ said...

I am a chocolate on chocolate kinda gal!!

jasonjohnson60446 at msn dot com

May 18, 2009 12:03 PM
Tara said...

Vanilla cake with Chocolate frosting!

May 18, 2009 12:03 PM
dara Ickes said...

I love a creamy vanilla cupcake with an orange frosting – tastes just like a frozen creamcicle. YUM…

May 18, 2009 12:03 PM
Jenn said...

My favorite is yellow cake with chocolate frosting, I’m a tradionalist.


May 18, 2009 12:04 PM
R and R in Oklahoma said...

I’m a sucker for strawberry with either vanilla buttercream or cream cheese frosting.

May 18, 2009 12:04 PM
Becky said...

My favorite cupcaks that I have been making are Coconut Rum cupcakes with Coconut Rum Buttercream frosting. Yumm!

May 18, 2009 12:05 PM
Telynn said...

I love key lime cupcakes with toasted coconut/meringue frosting!

May 18, 2009 12:05 PM
Bree said...

I love strawberry cupcakes with cream cheese frosting- it’s like cheesecake!

May 18, 2009 12:05 PM
clstar said...

Coconut cupcakes with pineapple filling and lime buttercream. So good!

May 18, 2009 12:06 PM
Kelly said...

lemon and coconut or cinnamon sugar

May 18, 2009 12:06 PM
Mrs. LC said...

I love the flavor combo of dark chocolate and raspberry. So good! :)

mrslc at

May 18, 2009 12:06 PM
Chelsea said...

Classic yellow cake with chocolate frosting. Fudgy chocolate frosting is even better.

May 18, 2009 12:06 PM
Leslie said...

I love Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese frosting. You blog is wonderful, so inspirational!

May 18, 2009 12:06 PM
Becky said...

This is a cute give away! Thanks for the opportunity :)

My favorite combo is chocolate cake with a light PB icing.

May 18, 2009 12:07 PM
gillian said...

chocolate with buttercream!

May 18, 2009 12:07 PM
Leslie said...

I love Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese frosting. You blog is wonderful, so inspirational!

May 18, 2009 12:07 PM
Thena said...

So many great ones. Chocolate or devil’s food with cream cheese icing. YUM!!!!

May 18, 2009 12:08 PM
Keri Jackson said...

White cake w/ whipped frosting

May 18, 2009 12:08 PM
Ms. Art said...

Carrot with cream cheese frosting!

May 18, 2009 12:08 PM
Amy Matthews said...

cherry chip with cherry icing :)

May 18, 2009 12:09 PM
Karen said...

I like white cake, just like plain old wedding cake, with dark chocolate buttercream. Heavenly!

May 18, 2009 12:09 PM
michelled said...

It’s about as boring as it gets, but I love white cake with white/vanilla frosting.

What a lot of time and thought you put into the cupcake displays. They looked awesome!!!

May 18, 2009 12:09 PM
lisalyn said...

I love the chocolate cupcakes with the cream cheese/chocolate chips baked inside of them.mmmmmmmmmmm!

May 18, 2009 12:09 PM
Kim said...

I love chocolate cupcakes with cream cheese frosting! Thanks for the giveaway!

May 18, 2009 12:09 PM
The Thomas' said...

Plain ole chocolate with chocolate frosting!

May 18, 2009 12:10 PM
lmd_1212 said...

Love the Cupcake Tower… I also enjoy the little things as well such as the paper having the same design as the invitation….

May 18, 2009 12:10 PM
Ruth said...

Yellow cupcake with chocolate frosting; yum!

May 18, 2009 12:10 PM
Dena said...

Chocolate, chocolate, and more chocolate!

May 18, 2009 12:11 PM
Kelly said...

White cupcakes with my mom’s homemade chocolate icing.

May 18, 2009 12:12 PM
vfolsom said...

Vanilla cupcakes with vanilla frosting. Maybe a small amount of raspberry jam in the center. Magnolia’s cupcakes are the best.

May 18, 2009 12:13 PM
Kim.Gos said...

My favorite is devils food cake with some kind of filling with a vanialla butter cream icing!

May 18, 2009 12:14 PM
Nikki said...

Spice cupcakes with cream cheese frosting. Yum!

May 18, 2009 12:14 PM
Shandi said...

I came up with my own recipe for Lemon Blueberry Pound cupcakes, make sure they don’t bake to the top of the wrapper and flood the top with a Lemon zest glaze! It’s so YUM!

May 18, 2009 12:15 PM
shaunjoy said...

Not a huge frosting fan, but I love cupcakes that have a cream cheese layer baked into them — chocolate peanut butter with cream cheese…mmmm…

May 18, 2009 12:15 PM
Jacqueline said...

These cupcakes are beautiful! I want wedding cupcakes BAD, and this is lovely inspiration!

I’m a big fan of red velvet with cream cheese frosting. You can’t go wrong!

May 18, 2009 12:15 PM
Cheryl said...

Yellow cake with chocolate frosting! Not fancy, but a fabulous classic flavor. YUM!

May 18, 2009 12:15 PM
Jennifer Pedersen said...

Anything chocolate! Your website is amazing and one of these days I am going to get brave enough to try something…the photography is so cool too! I love to bake and your site is so motivational…thanks for making it look easy even though I know it isn’t.

May 18, 2009 12:16 PM
Jessica said...

Oooooh, any cupcake is a good cupcake!!! But if I HAD to be picky…. it would be a simple chocolate cupcake with buttercream frosting! Yummy!

May 18, 2009 12:16 PM
Jen said...

Classic yellow cake with chocolate icing.

May 18, 2009 12:16 PM
Erin B said...

My favorite cupcake is yellow with chocolate frosting. That is not my favorite cake flavor, but for some reason it is my favorite cupcake…must have something to do with the bake sales in elementary school!

May 18, 2009 12:17 PM
Robin said...

Gorgeous!! You do such beautiful work!

My favorite combination is plain ol’ vanilla cupcakes with chocolate buttercream frosting.

May 18, 2009 12:17 PM
FunkyFrum said...

white chocolate raspberry truffle cupcakes with white chocolate frosting, drool.

May 18, 2009 12:17 PM
oneordinaryday said...

You did a beautiful job with the cupcakes. I have no doubt no one has ever seen such a lovely cupcake display. Even on Martha!
I love the idea of a peppermint white chocolate mocha cupcake!!!!! I just can’t find a recipe!!!

May 18, 2009 12:18 PM
rachel said...

it would definately have to be a combo of either pistachio cake with almond cream OR almond cream cake with pistachio buttercream. =) Although I’ve never seen it in cupcake form, is it possible?? anyone?? Let me know!!

May 18, 2009 12:18 PM
Liz Brooks said...

I just made a delish lemon cake with lemon icing that I think would transfer well to cupcakes!
Please enter me in the drawing-I would love to win!

May 18, 2009 12:18 PM
Stasi said...

I’m a boring or classic girl depending on your perspective.
Yellow cake with Chocolate icing. and rainbow sprinkles

May 18, 2009 12:18 PM
Emily's Mom said...

Chocolate with peanut butter icing!!

May 18, 2009 12:19 PM
Erin said...

Do I have to pick a favorite flavor? This week its confetti with cream cheese frosting.

May 18, 2009 12:19 PM
Sue said...

I would love to win this tower. My daughter’s 1st birthday party is Cupcake themed! My favorite cupcake flavor is chocolate with chocolate frosting. Bring on the chocolate!

May 18, 2009 12:19 PM
Brandi Brady said...

I am all about the chocolate/chocolate! Simple pleasures are the best!


May 18, 2009 12:20 PM
Nags said...

chocolate cupcakes with vanilla frosting!!

May 18, 2009 12:20 PM
297 said...

My favorite cupcake flavor (currently) is the Bourbon Sweet Potato! I tried it recently and can not get over how great it is!! Your cupcakes always turn out so beautiful!! :)

May 18, 2009 12:21 PM
Cher said...

My favorite is a spiced or carrot cake with cream cheese frosting. I’m a purist at heart. ha!

May 18, 2009 12:21 PM
JP in IL said...

white cupcakes with white icing….Yummy! I really prefer the white cupcake with rainbow chip frosting…but that might be hard for you to decorate so beautifully!

May 18, 2009 12:22 PM
Andrea said...

that cupcake tower is awesome! i love just plain vanilla w/buttercream frosting. and lots and lots of pink sprinkles!!

May 18, 2009 12:22 PM
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