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You may use all butter in this quick buttercream, but using vegetable shortening makes a frosting that will be a little firmer in warmer temperatures. Also, using the optional meringue powder, while not necessary, will help your frosting holds its shape.
This amount of frosting is fine to frost the top of a 9" x 13" cake. If you're frosting a layer cake, double the recipe to have enough frosting to pipe decorations.
1/2 cup (4 ounces) unsalted butter or non-transfat vegetable shortening (we used 1/4 cup of each)
pinch of salt
1 tablespoon meringue powder, optional, for "holding power"
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 1/2 to 3 cups (10 to 12 ounces) confectioners' sugar or glazing sugar
2 to 4 tablespoons (1 to 2 ounces) milk
Cream the butter and/or shortening until fluffy. Beat in the salt, meringue powder, and the vanilla. Add the confectioners' or glazing sugar, 2 tablespoons of the milk, and beat well.
Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl. Adjust the consistency of the frosting as needed by adding more confectioners' sugar or milk. If you're not going to use the frosting right away, keep it at room temperature, covered, to prevent it from developing a dry crust. Yield: 2 1/2 cups.