I made cupcakes for a birthday at work, and decided to make the frosting the focus. I made the cupcakes out of a box mix for time-saving purposes (Funfetti!), then found a highly-rated and well-reviewed buttercream recipe from Allrecipes.com.
BUTTERCREAM FROSTING (adapted from allrecipes)
1/2 c. shortening
1/2 c. butter
4 c. powdered sugar
1 tsp. clear vanilla extract
1/4 c. + 2 Tbsp. heavy cream
Combine butter and shortening together until mixed very well (I beat with a mixer for about 2 minutes). Add powdered sugar and mix again for a few minutes until completely combined and very fluffy. Add vanilla and cream and mix until moistened. I ended up adding another splash of cream at the end to make it just a bit smoother. Yields enough for 18 cupcakes, but you could probably decorate 24 if you used less frosting on each one than I used.
I used this recipe for my first attempt at PIPING! I don't own a pastry piping bag, but I got a metal tube piping set in the Dollar Section at Target last Christmas. It worked fine for this, but it made one of my fingers numb from the way it was held. After about four truely sad looking cupcakes, I started to get the hang of it, and really like how they turned out! I sprinkled on some pink sugar sprinkles for the birthday girl after the piping was finished. I love how they look!
Rating: EXCELLENT! This frosting was stiff enough to hold the piping, was easy to work with, and tasted good!