5 steps to creating the ultimate cupcake bar

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Have we told you that our mom is the Quintessential Health Enthusiast? Not only does she work out almost every single day, she has been a health food nut since long before the world of Whole Foods (we even belonged to a health food co-op in the 80s where she ordered cases of whole wheat tortillas, carob chips and other things she couldn’t find at the grocery store).

Mom’s bent towards nutrition and exercise has had two diverging side effects. The first is that I, too, work out almost every day- my day almost feels incomplete without some sort of exercise (and I am in such a better mood for it). In fact, my mom is my running partner (we’re running the Colfax Urban 10 miler this weekend together- the pic above is from a half marathon we did in October).

The other side effect is my crazy sweet tooth. At least, I like to blame it on the sweet deprivation I experienced growing up. My theory is that since we never had sweets at our house (and since they are pretty much my favorite thing), I am doing my best to make up for lost time.

Things like cupcake bars, then, are perfect for me (and my sweet tooth and the lost time that I’m reclaiming). Alison (from Oopsey Daisy) and I fashioned a little cupcake buffet for the Denver Spring Soiree and now I want to add a cupcake bar to every event.

Besides the sweet tooth appeal, the loveliest thing about a cupcake bar is that it makes a big impact, but isn’t really high maintenance to put together. Here are the oh-so-simple key elements to Cupcake Bar success-

1. Provide a variety of cupcake flavors! For maximum impact, offer a whole buffet of different cupcake flavors. You can either bake them yourself like we did (in small batches), or order them from a cupcakery (or a combination of the two). If you’re needing a place to start recipe-wise, for our cupcake bar at the Denver Spring Soiree, we used these recipes- Mocha Cupcakes (used this chocolate cupcake recipe and this mocha frosting recipe), Oreo Cupcakes, Vanilla Creme Filled Cupcakes (I made these vanilla cupcakes and then filled them with frosting- I’ll have to put together a post about that!), Strawberry Cupcakes, Yellow Cupcakes (with chocolate frosting, of course), Red Velvet Cupcakes, Confetti Cupcakes, Carrot Cupcakes, Mint Chocolate Cupcakes, Double Chocolate Cupcakes.

2. Choose a color palette. Cupcake wraps and toppers (see #5) make it easy to add the colors of your choice to your cupcake buffet. A couple places to order cupcake liners and baking cups- Bake It Pretty and Confetti Sunshine. Additionally, I’ve seen really cute cupcake liners at JoAnn’s and even in the Target dollar bin! Another way to easily tie in a color palette is through your labels and signage (as an added bonus, you don’t have to explain the flavors over and over again).

3. Give your cupcake buffet a pretty backdrop. Make a sweet spread of cupcakes even sweeter with a fabulous backdrop (several ideas and how-to’s here). Our backdrop is just strips of fabric, sewn into a garland (would you like a tutorial for that, or does it look pretty self explanatory?).

4. Add dimension. Cake stands (and even boxes wrapped in paper) are the perfect way to add height and visual variety to your cupcake display. A white cake stand or two (or seven!) in your servingware collection are great versatile pieces, perfect for cupcake buffets and Nacho Bars alike.

5. Use cupcake toppers. These are secret weapon of treat buffets- they add height, tie in your theme, are easy to make, and are just so darn cute! Ribbon flags, punched circle toppers, tied fabric bows, fabric flags, and patterned paper all make great cupcake toppers. Also, little treats like chocolate squares, strawberries, and Oreos make great edible toppers that match your cupcakes. Fabulous!

Any other tips you can pass along for making a cupcake bar great? Also, do any of you have an Ultimate Health Enthusiast Mama?

ps- For the sake of full disclosure, I feel compelled to add the fact that Jordan does not have a sweet tooth (so there’s a chance that my mom’s zeal for healthy food did not, in fact, cause my sweet tooth). Despite this fact, I stand by my making-up-for-lost-time theory.

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  1. That’s too funny bout your mom! I love that she gave you the exercise enthusiasm….that’s great! I also love your sweets theory. I have a friend whose mom was the same way and he said that if he went over to a friends house while growing up, he would sneak in and eat the sugar by the the spoonfuls straight from the canister….haha! I’ve always remembered that. Love the cupcake tips. What a fun idea to add pizazz to a party! I’m pinning it for future cupcake endeavors ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. leigh anne, I used to go crazy at other people’s houses too!!! not sugar by the spoonful, but white bread or Jif peanut butter, or any candy that was available. and if I could find soda, I felt like I hit the jackpot (I still LOVELOVELOVE diet coke!). ๐Ÿ™‚ that’s so funny about your friend! ๐Ÿ™‚ and if you do a cupcake bar, send me pics!

  2. oh my!!! I grew up just the same… with the same results! I NEVER had sugar growing up, we had a semi truck from the food coop that would deliver food to our home every couple months too! I also work out consistently as an adult and have a sugar love affair. In fact when I first went off to college and left the sugar free zone, my friends and I would eat 1 lb bags of hot tamales in single sittings :o) I’m a bit more moderate now :o) love your cupcake bar ideas!

    1. emily, I love everything about this. trying to explain a food co-op to people mostly results in blank stares- so fun to have someone that gets it. ๐Ÿ™‚ and college was BAD NEWS for me. like 20 lbs bad news (I think- I never weighed myself, which was a bad bad idea!). and I can still eat Hot Tamales in great quantity, so I can’t keep them around. love all of this friend. ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. I can totally relate to having a health nut mom WAY before it was cool to eat that way. I begged my mom for white bread as a kid. I claimed that our bread had rocks in it. ๐Ÿ™‚ And I LOVED spending the night with my friends because they always had sugar cereal.

    I, too, have a huge sweet tooth. I’m ashamed about the amount of Nutella I’ve eaten in the past month. (Never again, Costco!! Do you hear me!?)

    1. Melissa, I feel like we have a little-understood bond. ๐Ÿ™‚ White bread is still on my mom’s list of “Most Terrible Foods Ever.” To be fair, I never eat it either (too much fear). Hahaha! ๐Ÿ™‚ And I cannot count the number of slumber party binges I had in my middle and high school years. I must’ve felt AWFUL after consuming that much sugar.
      Also, love the nutella. Seriously, love. ๐Ÿ™‚

  4. It is so good to hear that there at least 3 other “health nut” moms out there! It’s a lonely place to be! I hope that your breakfast for our run this weekend isn’t licking the frosting off the cupcakes and calling it good ๐Ÿ™‚ But…I do LOVE that we DO share the love of fitness! Love you xooxoxoooox Mom

    1. Hahaha- laughing out loud. There are worse things to be than a Health Enthusiast, that’s for sure. ๐Ÿ™‚ Love you back.

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