Original recipe from:
Icing on the Cake by Shalini Latour - my comments included below.
This makes enough to crumb-coat and cover an 8" round cake.
I get a MUCH better consistency if the butter really is softened. I'm often impatient, so I've done it with cool butter many times. I actually had it out long enough once, and wow it was a good buttercream!
I have substituted whole egg for egg whites with no only slight color effect, and it's very yummy.
I have substituted half and half, or even milk, for the heavy cream.
I add vanilla. I don't really measure, I just taste. At LEAST a tsp, probably closer to two.
I haven't really noticed a color difference if you beat the heck out of it, anyway. You can always use the clear vanilla from Wilton if you really want it more white.
If you want a more stable, less greasy, and more ... fluffy, I guess... texture, substitute some of the butter with Crisco. About 1/4-1/3 of a cup. The store frostings are usually ALL Crisco, and people eat them all the time, don't worry that it's going to taste like grease - it'll taste like sweet!
If you do this, beat the Crisco and butter together well, before you start adding the sugar.
If you want a little tang and extra flavor, substitute cream cheese for some of the butter. Maybe 1/4 to 1/3 of the total.
You can double this in a Kitchenaid ... but you probably can't triple it.
Scrape the bowl midway through the process - there's powdered sugar stuck at the bottom of the bowl. No, really. There's also unmixed butter/Crisco on the sides/bottom, too. I promise.
I also usually add about 1T of powdered egg white/meringue powder to the powdered sugar before adding it.
Copyright Kimberly Jennery, 2007