I got this recipe from Trish at www.cakemaven.com. I have added a few notes to it. It is by far the best that I have tried. You will not be disappointed.
AMAZING Buttercream Icing Recipe
1 cup vegetable shortening (Crisco is best!)
½ cup butter (1 stick)
1 teaspoon of clear vanilla flavor
1 teaspoon of crème bouquet flavoring or almond (optional)(I use almond)
1/4 cup milk or water (add more as needed or for thinner consistency)( I like to use water)
1 pinch salt (if using unsalted butter)
1 teaspoon meringue powder
2 pounds of sifted powdered sugar (pure cane sugar, not beet sugar)
1. Mix the shortening and butter until well blended.
2. Add milk/water and flavoring and continue mixing. Once well combined, turn the mixer off.
3. Add salt, meringue powder and sugar. Turn mixer on to lowest speed and mix just until the ingredients start to come together.
4. Turn mixer to medium speed and mix for 2 - 5 minutes until smooth and a little fluffy. (The time will vary depending on the power of your mixer. Stand mixer will require about 2 minutes at speed 4, hand mixer may require up to 5 minutes)
4. If the mixture is too stiff and you can tell the mixer is straining, add more liquid to obtain the right consistency. If it becomes too soft, add more powdered sugar.
1. Use the paddle attachment, NOT the whip when making your icing.
2. If using regular (salted) butter in this recipe, you will not need to add additional salt. If using unsalted butter, add a little dash of salt to cut the sweetness.
3. Meringue Powder can only be found in cake supply shops, not at the grocery store.
4. You can leave the meringue powder out, but it helps make your icing lighter and fluffier, which helps flowers hold their shape when you pipe them.
5. Always use name brand shortening. It has more emulsifiers so it blends better and will not give you that "greasy" taste.
6. Buy the 2# plastic bags of powdered sugar so you don't have to sift it.
7. If you need pure white icing or want to make your icing dairy-free, you can replace the butter in the recipe with shortening and add 1 tsp. butter flavoring to give the icing a buttery flavor