The secret to perfect frosting flowers, borders and other designs that hold their shape is a crusting buttercream frosting that becomes stiff as it dries. While a traditional buttercream recipe uses butter, the fat melts easily at room temperature and causes piped decorations to lose shape. Solid vegetable shortening, on the other hand, has a much higher melting point than butter and results in a hard crust when mixed with sugar in frosting. This type of buttercream also works well if you want a perfectly smooth finish similar to fondant.
Things You'll Need
- Mixing bowl
- Electric mixer
- Vegetable shortening
- Butter (optional)
- Powdered sugar
- Milk or water
- Flavor extract
Add the vegetable shortening to a mixing bowl and mix until the solid shortening has a creamy, smooth texture. As a general rule, mix 1 cup of vegetable shortening for every 1 pound of powdered sugar, which yields approximately 3 cups of frosting. If desired, you can substitute 1/2 cup of butter for half the shortening to give frosting more flavor, but the resulting frosting won't dry as stiff as when made with only shortening.
Mix the powdered sugar into the shortening approximately 1/2 cup at a time, allowing the sugar to incorporate thoroughly before adding more sugar. Use 4 cups or 1 pound of powdered sugar for every 3 cups of frosting needed. After adding the last bit of sugar, the mixture will be very stiff and crumbly.
Add milk or water to the mixture, using about 2 tablespoons of liquid for every pound of powdered sugar. Add vanilla extract or other flavoring to taste; use flavor extracts sparingly at a rate of about 1 teaspoon for every pound of powdered sugar. Beat the mixture until it becomes smooth and fluffy.
Tips & Warnings
- This frosting will keep in the refrigerated for about two weeks in an air-tight container, so you can make a large batch and use it as needed.
- Mix butter flavoring with the frosting to give it the taste of butter without sacrificing any of the stiff-drying vegetable shortening.
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