Standard Buttercream Icing

1 1/2 cups unsalted butter, room temperature
4 cups icing sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

  1. Beat butter on medium-high speed until pale and creamy, about 2 mins.

  2. Reduce speed to medium-low and add the icing sugar, 1/2 cup at a time. Scape down the sides of bowl as needed.

  3. Add vanilla and beat until frosting is smooth. If the icing is too stiff, you can add about 1 tbsp of milk to it.

  4. If not using immediately, you can refrigerate the frosting up to 10 days in an airtight container. Before using, bring to room temperature and beat on low speed until smooth again, about 5 mins. 
Note: you can substitute the butter for vegetable shortening and substitute the vanilla extract for 2 tsp of butter flavouring.

Variation - used for my chocolate martini cupcakes:
  1. Prepare the buttercream recipe as above but substitute 1/2 cup of the butter for shortening.
  2. Add about 1/4 cup of chocolate liquor to the prepared buttercream.  You may need to add about an extra 1/2 cup of icing sugar to it to get the right consistency (medium).

  3. Whip 1/2 cup of whipping cream until stiff. Then add 1 tsp of cocoa powder and continue to beat. Fold the whipped cream into the prepared buttercream.

  4. Refrigerate about 1/2 hour before using.