| November 5, 2012

Want to make your birthday cupcakes sparkle? We asked Katherine Kallinis Berman and Sophie Kallinis LaMontagne, sisters and co-founders of Georgetown Cupcake and stars of TLC’s “DC Cupcakes” for some fun and creative ideas.

When it comes to birthday parties, the sisters say, the brighter, the better. They suggest starting with a chocolate cupcake and brightly-colored buttercream frosting (see recipe below), then getting crafty with some of these tips and tricks:

  • Top cupcakes with round rainbow sprinkles.
  • Add sparkle with shimmery fondant. Fondant is a dough-like icing found in your baking aisle that can be tinted with food color and molded into any shape you want. Roll out the fondant and sweep luster dust, a finely-ground edible sugar, over the fondant to get the look. 
  • Cut out the fondant using any sort of cookie cutters or paper punches you have at home. For the bottom layer of Sophie and Katherine's fondant decorations (pictured above), they chose a flower shape.
  • Get personal with fondant messages made with edible ink. Color clean alphabet stamps with the edible markers (available at craft stores), push it into the fondant and spell out a special note.
  • Cut out the stamped letters. Sophie and Katherine used a small circular cookie cutter.
  • Layer the letter fondant on top of the flower-shaped fondant. A dab of water or frosting will help the fondant stick together.

Going the extra mile “really makes your cupcakes extra-special for those important occasions in life,” says Sophie. And with Georgetown Cupcake's chocolate and buttercream cupcake recipe, your cupcakes will taste even better than they look.

Check out the full recipe and behind-the-scenes photos from Georgetown Cupcake below:

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How to Make Your Birthday Cupcakes Sparkle

Cooking Method: 
Cook Time: 
18-20 minutes
12 cupcakes


  • One and 1/4 cups flour, sifted
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda, sifted
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 8 tablespoons (4 ounces) unsalted butter
  • One and 1/4 cups sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • One and 1/4 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder, sifted
  • 16 tbsp. (8 ounces) unsalted butter (for the frosting)
  • 4 cups confectioners sugar, sifted (for the frosting)
  • 1 teaspoon whole milk (for the frosting)
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract or seeds from one vanilla bean pod (for the frosting)
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt (for the frosting)


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 F. Line a standard cupcake pan with 12 baking cups.
  2. Sift together the flour, baking soda and salt on a sheet of wax paper or parchment paper.
  3. Place the butter in the bowl of a stand mixer or hand-held electric mixer. Beat on medium speed until fluffy. Stop to add the sugar; beat on medium speed until well incorporated.
  4. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing slowly after each addition.
  5. Combine the vanilla extract and milk in a large liquid measuring cup.
  6. Reduce the speed to low. Add one-third of the flour mixture to the butter mixture, then gradually add one-third of the milk mixture, beating until well incorporated. Add another one-third of the flour mixture, followed by one-third of the milk mixture. Stop to scrape down the bowl as needed. Add the remaining flour mixture, followed by the remaining milk mixture, and beat just until combined.
  7. Add the cocoa powder, beating (on low speed) just until incorporated.
  8. Use a standard-size ice cream scoop to fill each cupcake paper with batter, so that the wells are two-thirds full. Bake for 18 to 20 minutes (start checking at 15 minutes) or until a toothpick inserted into the center of a cupcake comes out clean. Transfer the pan to a wire rack to cool completely.
  9. For the buttercream frosting: Place the unsalted butter in the bowl of a stand mixer or handheld electric mixer. Add the confectioners sugar; beat on medium speed until well incorporated. Add the vanilla extract, milk and salt and beat on high speed until light and fluffy. Place frosting in a disposable piping bag with a large round tip and frost cupcakes with Georgetown Cupcake's signature swirl!
Georgetown Cupcake

Sisters Katherine Kallinis Berman and Sophie Kallinis LaMontagne are the co-founders of Georgetown Cupcake, stars of the hit series DC Cupcakes on TLC, and authors of "The Cupcake Diaries" and "Sweet Celebrations."

Birthday Cupcakes

Sophie and Katherine make their favorite birthday cupcakes.

Frosting and Sprinkles

Sophie and Katherine top their chocolate cupcakes with bright-colored buttercream frosting and round rainbow sprinkles.

Lemon Berry Cupcake

Lemon Berry Cupcake: Light lemon and rasberry cupcake with a rasberry frosting topped with a candied lemon.

Chocolate Hazelnut and Banana Split Cupcakes

Chocolate Hazelnut Cupcake (top): Valrhona chocolate cupcake with a rich Callebaut chocolate ganache icing topped with caramelized hazelnuts.

Banana Split Cupcake (bottom): Fresh banana cupcake with a fudge core topped with a vanilla cream cheese frosting, a fudge drizzle, hazelnuts, rainbow bobbles, and a maraschino cherry.