OK, raise your hand if you were like me and never had a school birthday party because your birthday was during the summer? (Aaah… come here… there, there, it’s OK) Ahem, anyway, nowadays the summer-birthday kids like my youngest get to have a “1/2 birthday” party at school. (Which is only right!) I missed my baby’s real ½ birthday, but thank goodness I didn’t miss out altogether, which would have happened here in another week.
I tried a new vanilla cupcake recipe, but honestly, I wasn’t in love with it so I’ll pass on posting the recipe. (Still in search of the world’s greatest vanilla cupcake... sigh.) For the icing, I used one of my favorites, by Michelle at Cakestrings.
It contains some shortening along with butter, so it’s lighter in taste and it’s not real sweet. There’s just one catch, and I apologize ahead of time if you’re in the no-trans-fat-allowed-ever camp (you might just want to skip this part because I’d hate for anyone to get upset) but this recipe doesn’t work as well with zero-trans fat shortening (this is true of many decorator icings that contain shortening.) I have heard that Wal-Mart brand shortening works , or there is “high-ratio” shortening that you can find at cake decorator supply stores.
Michelle P’s Buttercream
¾ cup granulated sugar
½ cup boiling water
¼ tsp. salt
¼ cup meringue powder
1 lb. sifted powdered sugar
2 ½ cups shortening or 1 1/4 shortening and 1 to 1 1/4 butter *(I use the shortening – butter combo)
1 Tbsp. vanilla
½ tsp. almond extract
Dissolve granulated sugar in boiling water. Add salt. Using the whip attachment, stir in meringue powder (yes...that much!!!) until moistened, and then beat on high until peaks form. Switch to the paddle attachment, and in the same bowl, right with the meringue mixture...add in powdered sugar, and then beat on high until smooth. Last, add in the same bowl with everything else, shortening and butter, and beat until smooth and creamy. Flavor with your choice of extracts...Michelle says she generally uses 1 Tbsp butter (if she did not use butter in the recipe), 1 Tbsp vanilla, and 1/2 tsp. almond extract.