Evil Buttercream/Decorator Icing

A few of you have emailed asking about the perfectly-peaked Buttercream Icing that I used on the cupcakes for Clare’s Buggie Birthday. I’m happy to share the recipe but be warned… there is shortening involved. It really is the only way to make icing that defies gravity. But rejoice healthy-types, you may substitute butter in part or in full. Your frosting will just be more melty. You know you’re in trouble when the healthy option is butter, just sayin’.

Decorator Icing or “Buttercream” Icing
-This is based on the recipe shared in the classes at Do It With Icing in San Diego. If you live in the San Diego area, I highly recommend their classes. Taking an evening cake decorating class was the perfect break and creative outlet for me as a new mom.


• 1 1/2 cup “CRISCO” (or Sweetex) – look for a Solid Vegetable Shortening with Trans Fat (kinda gross, I know, right? but it really does make a difference when you need “decorator” icing. Sometimes the store brand will still have it.) Like I said, feel free to substitute butter in part or full. In this particular case I used 1/2 cup butter and 1 cup shortening.

• 1/4 teaspoon salt

• 1 teaspoon meringue powder (optional, but highly recommended)

• 2 Lbs sifted powdered sugar (if you use a 2 lb bag, you don’t have to sift)

• 1/2 cup milk or water (add more or less liquid as needed for desired consistency)

• 1 teaspoon vanilla or other flavoring. (In this case, I added vanilla and a 1/2 teaspoon of cheesecake flavoring. It was delicious. I bet Bavarian Creme would be yummy too)


1. Mix the Crisco, salt and meringue powder with an electric mixer to blend. 30 seconds, then turn off.)

2. Add the milk in the bowl then add the powdered sugar and blend by hand with a spatula until the sugar is absorbed into the liquid. Add Vanilla.

3. Put the bowl back on the mixer and beat on medium speed for 2-5 minutes until smooth and a little fluffy. Shorter for a stand mixer, longer for a hand mixer.  Do not over-beat or you will get air bubbles.

4. If the mixture is too stiff, add more liquid a little bit at a time. If it’s too runny, add more powdered sugar.

5. Hand mix your color (or you will get weird air-bubble bursts of color.) I used Americolor Gel Food Color Paste in Electric Pink

6. Transfer to a pastry bag with a jumbo closed-star decorating tip and pipe away (stay tuned for my tips on making this process pain and mess free in a future post.)

PS: the cupcakes are Pretty In Pink Strawberry Cupcakes from Cupcakes from the Cake Doctor by Anne Byrn, I used Red Tilt-A-Whirl Cupcake Liners  and Pink Cotton Candy Birthday Candles




I only use shortening for my decorator icing, and the hi-ratio ones like Sweetex make a great consistency. It's not like cake and icing are health foods!


interesting. I'll have to try it out sometime- usually I just go with a butter/ powdered sugar/ touch of milk and vanilla recipe… this one is more involved, but sounds worth it! 🙂


I was wondering about copha too – and also what exactly is meringue powder? Being in Australia and not having access to some of the products you all have I may have to substitute and experiment


I used this recipe tonight as written and it was fabulous! It held up well, was easy to pipe for this first timer, and was sweet, but not over the top (yes, I ate it). Thank you so much!


Hi, thanks for the recipe! I’m going to have to try this soon; your cupcakes look fabulous! I was wondering what the flower decorations on your cupcakes were. Were they frosting, cookies, or something else?


Hi,love love loveeeee this recipe…(especially for the blue ombre petal cake~~~~~http://www.thehungryhousewife.com/2012/04/blue-ombre-petal-cake-tutorial.html) I was wondering how long this frosting would keep in the fridge? Thanks

El Jae

Mmmm made a double batch for a special Rapunzel cake for my niece. Going on a triple berry cake, I used vanilla and lemon flavor to enhance the berry. Cake filling I mixed half frosting half frozen strawberries pureed and still frozen. Trimmed the tops off both layers before putting strawberry cram in middle and pressing. Dirty iced and put in fridge to continue cake tomorrow. What I have tasted so far is fantastic!


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