Everyone thinks their mom’s cooking and baking is the best. Whether it’s those comforting casseroles from childhood, those sandwiches that made your lunch oh-so-special or a pasta served only for the most special occasions, mother cooks best. And my mother, Donna Menyes, is no exception to this rule. She makes the best chicken parmesan this side of Italy, and she has been cooking old-school fancy foods like boeuf bourguignon since I was a child. But the best thing my mom makes? Birthday cakes. And it’s not just because my childhood was full of cakes shaped like Barbie, Minnie Mouse and teddy bears. It’s because her frosting is far and away the best you’ll ever find. And it’s so simple to make at home.
I’ve had cakes from some of the best bakeries around and my fair share of fancy wedding cakes, and yet no frosting compares to hers. So, I did what any daughter with a mad sweet tooth does. I emailed my mom asking for her top-secret buttercream recipe. And, uh, I was shocked by two things. One, it only has three ingredients. Two, it actually has no butter and no cream.
Yes, my mom’s infamous buttercream frosting is made of three things alone: vegetable shortening, powdered sugar and flavor extracts. So not only is it delicious, but it’s also vegan and doesn’t need to be refrigerated. That’s a win-win-win in my book.
So, what’s in this mysterious frosting? Keep reading for instructions straight from my mama’s Rolodex.
The Best Frosting Ever:
2 cups Crisco shortening (MUST BE CRISCO — substitutes are not as “creamy”)
2 pounds powdered sugar, sifted
1 tablespoon vanilla extract (use clear vanilla if you want white decorator icing)
1 tablespoon butter extract
1/2 tablespoon almond extract
1 teaspoon salt dissolved in 4 tablespoons BOILING water
Using stand mixer, cream together Crisco and flavorings (vanilla, butter and almond).
Alternately add sifted powdered sugar and water/salt mixture.
More boiling water (1 tablespoon at a time) can be added, if needed, to get icing to a good consistency for piping/decorating.
Icing can be dyed to with the colors of your choice. It is recommended to use decorator paste or gel for the dye (available at cake stores or online), as grocery store dyes may introduce too much liquid.
The salt added to the boiling water helps cut the sweetness a bit.
The BOILING water helps integrate with the Crisco.
Since this icing does not use dairy products (butter and/or milk or cream), it is safe to leave the iced cake unrefrigerated.
And that’s it! See how easy it is to make a delicious, dairy-free frosting at home? And this simple non-butter buttercream can be used on anything. While I love it on a birthday cake, it’s great for cupcakes and cookies too. After you try this, trust me: You’ll never buy icing again, nor should you buy these grocery items ever again.
Carolyn Menyes is the entertain editor at The Daily Meal. She requires a corner piece of cake, thank you very much. Follow her on Instagram and Twitter.