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

Cynthia said...

I love strawberry w/ butter cream frosting! I’m making my own cupcakes for my wedding next year and a cupcake tower would be perfect! =)

May 18, 2009 12:22 PM
cookies and cups said...

This might seem boring, but my all-time favorite is vanilla cake with vanilla buttercream…you can’t mess with classic!

May 18, 2009 12:23 PM
Anonymous said...

I love “Bob” from Sugar Sweet Sunshine. Chocolate cake w/ chocolate almond buttercream. YUMMY! I’ve gone to NYC from Reading, PA JUST for those cupcakes.


May 18, 2009 12:23 PM
Nancy said...

Chocolate with buttercream frosting..yummmm

May 18, 2009 12:24 PM
Adriana said...

Lemon with cream cheese frosting YUM!! We are having a cupcake themed birthday party for my daughter’s 5th birthday this summer and this tier would be perfect!

May 18, 2009 12:24 PM
brainella said...

Chocolate cupcake, vanilla buttercreme….or choc with peanut butter frosting. Oh. Now I want a cupcake.

May 18, 2009 12:24 PM
April said...

I’m a simple girl – yellow cake with chcolate icing. yum.

May 18, 2009 12:24 PM
sewhipbaby said...

Chocolate raspberry cupcakes with chocolate frosting. YUM!

May 18, 2009 12:25 PM
Pin and Paper said...

I don’t believe I’ve ever met a cupcake I didn’t like, but if I had to choose a favorite I’d probably say red velvet with cream cheese icing.

May 18, 2009 12:25 PM
Anonymous said...

Chocolate with raspberry cream frosting.

May 18, 2009 12:25 PM
heather said...

I think I’d have to say good old fashioned yellow cake with chocolate frosting would be my fave.

Although there are plenty of other flavors that are favorites of the moment often!! How is one supposed to decide, really?

May 18, 2009 12:25 PM
Kari Lyn said...

German Chocolate with Cream Cheese Frosting. Yummy!

Just found your site and I LOVE it!

May 18, 2009 12:25 PM
Angie's Spot said...

Your talents never cease to amaze me! My favorite cupcake combo is chocolate cake filled with chocolate pudding iced with chocolate buttercream frosting. Oh my, I’m really hungry now!

May 18, 2009 12:26 PM
Anonymous said...

I love red velvet with cream cheese frosting. MMMM..cream cheese.

ps LOVE your site. You are very talented!

jesspencer at gmail dot com

May 18, 2009 12:27 PM
Elizabeth said...

Wow, so many. I love chocolate cupcakes and strawberry buttercream icing!

May 18, 2009 12:27 PM
mommieof4munchkins said...

Carrot cake with cream cheese frosting minus the raisins ;). Great cupcakes by the way, she is one lucky girl!

May 18, 2009 12:27 PM
Jess B said...

Chocolate with chocolate frosting. Lemon, raspberry. It’s all good! :) Those cupcakes were awesome. I love the simple design and the display that matched. Great job!!

May 18, 2009 12:27 PM
SandeeA said...

it’s incredible what you can do with cupcakes and fondant!!!! I like the idea!

My favorite flavor is chocolate with moka buttercream… Thank you so much for all the ideas you give us!

May 18, 2009 12:27 PM
everydayMOM said...

I would love that tower! … probably, yellow cake with chocolate frosting.

May 18, 2009 12:27 PM
Desiree said...

devil’s food cake with a peanut butter frosting! Yums!

May 18, 2009 12:28 PM
Anonymous said...

yum chocolate and buttercream!

May 18, 2009 12:29 PM
The Halls said...

I just had some chocolate chocolate chip cupcakes with strawberry buttercream icing…holy crap they were tasty!

May 18, 2009 12:29 PM
Cheri said...

I’m a red velvet girl myself! Has to have cream cheese frosting too. I love cheesecake with cherry frosting too. Hmmm… to many to decide!

Cheri’ @

May 18, 2009 12:30 PM
Kathie said...

Chocolate with homemade buttercream frosting!

May 18, 2009 12:30 PM
Lindsay Willman said...

strawberry with funfetti frosting.
not very grownup, but mmm cupcakes!!

thanks for the chance to win.

May 18, 2009 12:30 PM
Nicole ( said...

Beautiful cupcakes! My favorite flavors are carrot cake with cream cheese and just plain ole vanilla with vanilla buttercream!

May 18, 2009 12:30 PM
Layla said...

The best cupcakes I’ve ever had were from Deb at Smitten Kitchen’s recipe for Irish Carbomb cupcakes — chocolate + stout cake, whiskey + chocolate ganache, and Bailey’s buttercream frosting. Amazing.

For a less labor-intensive combination, you can’t go wrong imo with the classic yellow cake with chocolate frosting.

May 18, 2009 12:31 PM
Wendy said...

I’m a traditionalist. And I also don’t make my cupcakes from scratch. But I LOVE Funfetti cupcakes with chocolate buttercream frosting. :)

May 18, 2009 12:31 PM
the flour child said...

mmm, cupcakes.
i make em huge – and call em cupacakes, for obvious reasons :)
flavorwise, though?
I make a mean peanut butter cake with sour cream dark chocolate peanut butter icing. Not too rich, but just the right touch of peanut butter. delish! :)
LOVE that tower- so cool!

May 18, 2009 12:31 PM
Lauren said...

vanilla cake with coconut frosting

May 18, 2009 12:31 PM
Peggy Maier said...

Oh my – reading these comments has made me extremely hungry for cupcakes! My favorite would be old-fashioned carrot cake with cream cheese frosting!!!

May 18, 2009 12:31 PM
Laura said...

I’m a plain girl–chocolate with cream cheese icing.

May 18, 2009 12:31 PM
Amy Lynn said...

Red Velvet with a Cream cheese frosting!
LOVE the cupcake tower. That would come in handy for all the cupcakes I am making for Memorial day!

May 18, 2009 12:32 PM
Anonymous said...

Love your originality! My fav is cherry chip with cream cheese frosting. Pink, of course. CJ

May 18, 2009 12:33 PM
Carrie said...

Strawberry Cake with Vanilla Buttercream and rainbow sprinkles :)

May 18, 2009 12:33 PM
Anonymous said...

I really love those funfetti cupcakes.. is that a flavor?

sbosken.hammond at gmail dot com

May 18, 2009 12:34 PM
shepp said...

I’m a chocolate addict so chocolate with chocolate cream cheese frosting yum!!

shepparc [at] gmail [dot] com

May 18, 2009 12:34 PM
Lindsay said...

The cupcakes looked amazing! I love the cupcake tower!

May 18, 2009 12:34 PM
LeAnne said...

Oh my, my friend is making cupcakes for her son’s wedding….this tower would be perfect! I love just plain yellow cake and white buttercream icing—my gram’s recipe! Plain Jane, I know, but that’s my fav!
Thanks for your yummy inspirations!

May 18, 2009 12:36 PM
Gina said...

Sadly, I’m a bit of a purist. I’ll take a vanilla cupcake with chocolate icing (or a chocolate cupcake with vanilla icing!) any day…

May 18, 2009 12:36 PM
Jess said...

Red Velvet with chocolate cream cheese icing…Mmmmm…if I win, I want some on the tower! :) Kidding. ;)

May 18, 2009 12:37 PM
The Jones said...

Chocolate with strawberry frosting or Yellow with chocolate buttercream. I love cupcakes.

May 18, 2009 12:37 PM
debbi said...

oh i love your site and marvel at your talents.
i am a bit of a purist and like my cupcakes vanilla with vanilla buttercream frosting.. oh but i also like lemon and almond and and and.. yikes it is hard to pick!!

debbiraff (at) aol (dot) com

May 18, 2009 12:39 PM
Amanda said...

Dark chocolate with peanut butter buttercream!!

May 18, 2009 12:39 PM
Sonia said...

I just love LEMON cakes. They always look so sweet & delicious so one has to eat one to know….I always offer to test lemon cakes.

Sonia UK

May 18, 2009 12:39 PM
kari said...

There’s just nothing better than chocolate on chocolate on chocolate on. . . Get the picture? And LOVE those giant chocolate sprinkles from Greece/Belgium. Where do people with no friend in Greece get some?

May 18, 2009 12:39 PM
beachy keen said...

Vanilla cupcake with chocolate frosting. Simple but so yummy :)

May 18, 2009 12:39 PM
Linda J. said...

I’m definitely a purist and heart and love vanilla cupcake with chocolate frosting. mmm

May 18, 2009 12:40 PM
cynthia said...

blueberries and bananas. it’s the best!

i love your blog. you are so creative! thank you so much for sharing! xoxo

chinoscuro at yahoo dot com

May 18, 2009 12:40 PM
Gayle Rogers said...

I love yellow cupcakes with chocolate icing. The fudgier the better.

May 18, 2009 12:40 PM
Jenniffer said...

Hey Bakerella, those cupcakes turned out SO cute!

My favorite cupcake? Chocolate cake with peanut butter buttercream… YUM!

jen [at] cupadeecakes [dot] com

May 18, 2009 12:40 PM
Lesley said...

Chocolate! With Chocolate! No sprinkles please. I would love to try that chocolate cream cheese icing. dreamy.

May 18, 2009 12:40 PM
Johnnal said...

chocolate with vanila bean buttercream frosting. YUMMY!

May 18, 2009 12:40 PM
Nicole said...

hmm my favourite cupcake is definitely traditional chocolate with vanilla frosting. yummy!!

I can be reached via my blog. :)

May 18, 2009 12:41 PM
Shelley said...

Classic vanilla cake with vanilla buttercream!

May 18, 2009 12:41 PM
Samye said...

I love good old fashion chocolate…but if you can’t have chocolate than lemon is pretty good too!!

May 18, 2009 12:41 PM
Heather said...

I am a simple girl, so I usually just love chocolate (especially Hershey’s Perfectly Chocolate Cake), or even vanilla cupcakes with vanilla buttercream.

But I recently made Oreo Cupcakes, and even Look-Alike Hostess Cupcakes, and those were both to die for.

Truthfully, I don’t know that I’ve ever met a cupcake I didn’t like.

heatherkj11 at yahoo dot com

May 18, 2009 12:42 PM
Shannon said...

My fave is Canadian….vanilla cake with maple icing!!!

May 18, 2009 12:42 PM
Nicole said...

my favourite cupcake is chocolate with vanilla frosting. simple, but delicious!!

i can be reached via my blog :)

May 18, 2009 12:42 PM
Bethie said...

Coconut all the way!

May 18, 2009 12:42 PM
Sharon H. said...

I like vanilla with cream cheese frosting!

May 18, 2009 12:42 PM
SummerKy said...

My favorite is Chocolate with whipped vanilla buttercream frosting!..YUMMY!

May 18, 2009 12:42 PM
The Bachman Family said...

Lemon on lemon. . . . mmmmm.

May 18, 2009 12:43 PM
Courtney J said...

double fudge with cream cheese frosting!

May 18, 2009 12:43 PM
Smoochiefrog said...

I’m simple, chocolate with regular buttercreme frosting. :)

May 18, 2009 12:43 PM
Yvonne said...

I’m a really simple person – chocolate/chocolate – but a great white cupcake with a buttercream will catch me everytime as well!

May 18, 2009 12:43 PM
Robin said...

My new favorite is lemon with lemon buttercream frosting–maybe it’s the spring weather we’ve been having! Love them!

May 18, 2009 12:44 PM
Megan said...

Chocolate cake, custard filling, and chocolate buttercream!

May 18, 2009 12:44 PM
Kimberly Rushing said...

Pumpkin spice cake with cream cheese frosting

May 18, 2009 12:44 PM
zuvalupa said...

chocolate with chocolate icing :D

May 18, 2009 12:44 PM
icook said...

Those all looked great! You went into so much detail, not only for the cupcakes themselves, but the transporting, too.
Plain jane for me, though. Homemade vanilla cupcakes with vanilla icing.

May 18, 2009 12:45 PM
cakemakinmama said...

Those are so beautiful. All the attention to detail is amazing. You are the best at that. I love the blog!!

May 18, 2009 12:46 PM
Dave and Catherine said...

My favorite flavor is probably red velvet with cream cheese frosting, but good old-fashioned yellow with buttercream is always great too.

I’ve wanted a cupcake tower for so long! Thanks for doing this giveaway!

May 18, 2009 12:46 PM
RowansMomma said...

I always go for chocolate on chocolate!

May 18, 2009 12:46 PM
Patricia said...

One word: YUM!

May 18, 2009 12:46 PM
Teanna said...

Is it boring if I say Red Velvet with Cream Cheese Frosting!? Because it totally is! GORGEOUS job!

May 18, 2009 12:46 PM
Lisa said...

My favorite combo would be coconut and dark chocolate!

May 18, 2009 12:47 PM
susies1955 said...

I love French Vanilla Cupcakes with butter cream made with Fiori di Sicilia. It is an all-natural citrus and vanilla scented flavor from
I just got it a few weeks ago and used it to make my daughter in laws baby shower cake and cupcakes with. YUM.
Thanks for the chance to win.

May 18, 2009 12:47 PM
Silvana said...

Dulce de Leche and Chocolate… you should give them a try!

May 18, 2009 12:47 PM
Jeannie said...

Homemade pumpkin cake (my Aunt Millie’s recipe) with cream cheese icing. Yum! And your First Communion cupcakes were beautiful. What an act of love! cjogmw at bellsouth dot net.

May 18, 2009 12:48 PM
Jordon Orr said...

lemon strawberry cake with a vanilla-lemon buttercream! Perfect summer cupcake.

May 18, 2009 12:48 PM
Carr Family said...

I’m not picky. My favorite is any kind that anyone wants to make me. :) -Tara C.

May 18, 2009 12:48 PM
Brindi said...

Oh nothing fancy – just a good, moist yellow cupcake with chocolate buttercream.

May 18, 2009 12:48 PM
Jessica said...

I love yellow cake with chocolate icing..I’m really wanting to try your chocolate cream cheese frosting…

May 18, 2009 12:49 PM
lesloo said...

Chocolate or Yellow or Coconut Cake with Coconut Icing – I’m itching to try Ina Garten’s recipe!

May 18, 2009 12:49 PM
SugarCrush said...

Rich chocolate cupcake with coconut cream frosting, or cookies-n-cream, or lemon cupcake with a lemon buttercream, or…

May 18, 2009 12:49 PM
Vanessa said...

Mmm… cupcakes. We had spice cake with cream cheese icing cupcakes at my wedding. So yummy!

May 18, 2009 12:49 PM
Bridgette said...

Strawberry cupcake with buttercream.

May 18, 2009 12:49 PM
Erin said...

this is boring perhaps, but I think there’s nothing better than a yellow cupcake with chocolate frosting. Yum!

May 18, 2009 12:50 PM
Connie Girl said...

Spice cake with cream cheese icing! Yum! Love your blog.

May 18, 2009 12:50 PM
addiebaby said...

I love red velvet cupcakes with cream cheese frosting. Yum!

May 18, 2009 12:50 PM
Anonymous said...

Yellow cake with lemon filling, chocolate butter creme frosting, coconut on top. (makes the best cake ever, so why not the best cupcake!) Enjoy your ideas!!
Beth Reed

May 18, 2009 12:51 PM
Susan said...

I’m a plain jane. I like yellow with chocolate icing. Sometimes simple is just as good.

May 18, 2009 12:51 PM
Scrappycook said...

Coconut Cupcakes with Almond-Cream Cheese Icing – Yum!

May 18, 2009 12:51 PM
Dana said...

carrot cake with cream cheese frosting….nothing better, even in cupcake form!

iluvpaper at yahoo dot com

May 18, 2009 12:52 PM
Janae said...

Vanilla with buttercream. LOTS of buttercream. Mmm. You make cupcake-making look so easy!

May 18, 2009 12:52 PM
Kim said...

I’m a simple girl. Dark chocolate cake and whipped topping with sprinkles.

May 18, 2009 12:52 PM
mbbatch04 said...

Mine is yellow cake with chocolate frosting. It’s an oldie but a goody! =)

May 18, 2009 12:52 PM
thetinybean said...

Your tower turned out so sweet!

I love a nice white cake cupcake with chocolate frosting. Mmmm…

May 18, 2009 12:52 PM
Hollie H said...

Gingerbread with cream cheese frosting. Yummo!

May 18, 2009 12:52 PM
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