There's a snazzy icing color chart on pages 88-89 of the latest issue of Food Network Magazine (May 2012). Forty-six shades from Pina Colada to Pinot Noir, and you can mix them all with any basic Red-Blue-Yellow-Green box of food coloring. Honestly, what is more satisfying than swirling a few drops of yellow and red into a pristine bowl of ivory buttercream, instantly transforming it to a sunny papaya orange?! I got so excited mixing my colors I busted out the piping bag for some spring flower cupcakes. I didn't even let the kids help!
I made simple buttercream using the following recipe, but the chart in the magazine provides variations if you'd rather skip the mixer and use white grocery store frosting. It's important to use the ratio for your particular frosting, since the butter in real buttercream gives the frosting a soft yellow cast, while frosting from a can will appear more bright white.
Simple Buttercream Frosting
1 cup unsalted butter
3 cups confectioners sugar (or more if frosting is too soft)
2 teaspoons real vanilla extract
3-4 tablespoons milk
Beat butter until smooth. I find that if I use the paddle attachment on my KitchenAid stand mixer, I don't need to soften the butter. If you're using a hand mixer with beaters, you might want to let it sit at room temperature for a few minutes before you begin. Add powdered sugar and beat again, starting slow so the sugar doesn't go flying all over the place. Once the sugar is incorporated, add your vanilla and the milk, one tablespoon at a time, until you get the consistency you'd like. And if you don't like the consistency, don't worry. This is a most forgiving formula.
If your frosting comes out too soft, add a little more confectioners sugar until it firms up a bit. Too firm? Add a splash more milk and beat again.
Fortunately I had someone to frost for this week. Happy Birthday to my dear friend, Rhea! I hope you liked your cupcakes.