Best Buttercream Frosting and Childhood

There are a few things that only exist in the wonderful world of childhood that just don't make it into adulthood.  For me, here are my top three:

1.  Running and loving it.  I loved having my cousins over to play, and our favorite destination was my big backyard.  To me, my backyard was so huge, it seemed like it spanned several universes.  (We divided up my backyard into the "back," the "way back," and the "way, way back.")  I remember being so excited as soon as they would arrive, we would shoot out the back door like gunshots, and just run around until we got tired.  There was a big hill in the "way, way back" of my back yard, and one of our favorite games was to run down it as fast as we could.  It felt like flying.  I loved it.  Nowadays, I still run (gotta try to keep up with all the calories); but I don't enjoy it, and it never feels like flying.

2. Playing pretend.  I was master at pretend.  Imaginary worlds sprung up before my eyes without even trying.  In the course of my childhood I spent a lot of time very successfully experiencing life as a fairy, Wonder Woman (complete with a crayoned costume I would tape to my clothes), a successful hotel chain co-owner (you're heard of the world famous Balloons Hotel, right?), a saloon keeper in the Old West, a bird, a spy, and a jazz singer.  Nowadays, I don't really play pretend anymore, but the idea of it still holds appeal.  

3.  Eating large amounts of sugar without any negative effects.  I could eat a whole bowl of Betty Crocker fudge brownie batter, raw, and feel great afterwards.  I could eat an entire ice cream Sundae and several candy bars and still be hungry for dinner (as long as it wasn't tuna noodle casserole).  I could eat all of my Halloween candy in 24 hours.  I could eat several bowls of sugar cereal and call it a well-balanced breakfast.  I could eat frosting by the spoonful.  I never gained unsightly pounds after these childish binges.  I never felt guilty.  I never had any regrets. Nowadays, I still love sweets as much as I did as a child, but it comes along with lots of extra inches, pounds, and guilt.  As much as I want to (and sometimes try to), I can no long eat sugar the way I used to.

It's fortunate that I had such a big backyard to run in and playmates who enjoyed pretending as much as I did, but I sure do wish I had this fantastic buttercream frosting as a child, because I would have eaten it by the bucketful.

My sister-in-law, Kathy, aside from providing me with two of the most precious nieces an aunt could have, has also provided me with a winning frosting recipe from Wilton.  Kathy is the type of woman who can sew, cook, bake, and decorate all amazingly well.  She's also super-smart and an athlete.  Most of the time, when I ask her for a recipe, she can't really give me one, because she doesn't generally use them.  She can throw together a bunch of ingredients without measuring and have it come out perfect.  The first time I tasted this frosting, I definitely needed the recipe and was delighted when I found out how easy it was.

This is truly the best buttercream frosting recipe you'll ever have.  I guarantee the next time you use this recipe for a party, you'll get more than one compliment on it.  It is the perfect sweet, fluffy frosting for any kind of cake or cupcake.  It can decorate well, and tastes all too good directly out of the bowl.  Even though I didn't have this buttercream frosting in my childhood, it makes the child in me happy to know that my sweet nieces will enjoy it on their birthday cakes and always get to lick the bowl.  

This cake used at least a recipe and a half of frosting.

Kathy's Buttercream Frosting
adapted from Wilton

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, slightly softened
1/2 cup shortening
2 teaspoons clear vanilla extract
1 pound (about 4 cups) confectioner's sugar
2-3 tablespoons milk

Cream together butter and shortening.  Add vanilla.  Beat in confectioner's sugar one cup at a time.   Add milk, beating until light and fluffy.  For a stiffer frosting, use less milk.  For a creamier frosting, use more milk.

(Mary's note: Even though Wilton's and Kathy's directions call for adding the milk after all the sugar has been added, I usually add a little milk after about half of the sugar has been beaten in and then alternate from there, adding all the sugar and enough of the milk to give the desired constistency.)


  1. Totally in love with this frosting of Kathy and Mary's. It is not "heavy," but fairly light, so you can actually get away with using less and it will still go a long way. Then you won't have to work out as much the next day.

    Mary's Dad.

  2. Love your reminiscences. I always worried your would disappear into the "way, way back" when you were little.

    That cake is way to pretty to eat! Really.


  3. I love your stories that go with each recipe. I only know adult Mary, so it makes me all warm and fuzzy to hear about kid Mary.

    Now go get on the treadmill.


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