I've had several requests to post my buttercream recipe. It's pretty simple. I have several variations, so I"ll explain below.
If I'm decorating a cake and need perfectly white color:
1 cup crisco (totally use the sticks....they are WAY easier!)
1 T clear, butter flavoring
2 t vanilla flavoring (or almond- or one of each)
4 cups powdered sugar
2-4 T water (You may have to use more or less. Use your judgement to reach the consistency you want.)
Now, if I'm making cupcakes with colored or flavored icing, then I substitute REAL BUTTER for the crisco and eliminate the butter flavoring. I also substitute whole milk for the water.
Another variation: use 1/2 c crisco and 1/2 cup butter.
*A word to the wise: If you or your cupcakes/cake will be out in the hot hot sun....please don't make your icing with butter. It melts! :)
Now, I've never tried "REAL"Italian buttercream. It's on my "to-do" list in the very near future and I can't wait! I hear it's a pain and a very long process, but totally worth it. I'll be sure to let you know how it goes.