Wilton’s Buttercream Icing

My sweet little Miss Three’s birthday was coming up and I was determined to present her with a tier of pretty pink cupcakes to make her huge blue eyes sparkle. I’m a confident baker so making large amounts of cupcakes doesn’t daunt me in the least but my Achilles’ Heel in this department is the icing or frosting. Actually it’s not so much poor technique or lack of skill that stumps me but not having the perfect recipe for miracle icing that pipes perfectly, or doesn’t turn into rancid sludge as soon as you take the cupcakes outdoors.

Wiltons Buttercream Icing

So, who ya gonna call (or Google…)? Wilton of course! Cake decorators and bakers would be familiar with Wilton and their amazing range of products for cake making and decorating. You name it. Wilton has it. Their website is also a veritable wealth of baking knowledge and features oodles of wonderful recipes. The one I chose to use is a simple buttercream icing but Wilton has many other types to try.

Wiltons Buttercream Icing

I was a little hesitant about trying this recipe at first as it contains vegetable shortening. Isn’t the darn icing going to be fat laden enough with all that butter it in? What does it even do? Vegetable shortening isn’t something you use that often in Australia whereas Crisco seems to be a common pantry item in the US. The closest thing we’ve got at the supermarket is Copha and I’m happy to say that this block of white fat *can* be used for something other than chocolate crackles!

As I read up on the subject, I found that the two big reasons why you use vegetable shortening in icing are because:

1. Vegetable shortening has a higher melting point which means that your icing will hold its shape for longer and has a better shelf life, and
2. Being white in colour, it helps maintain a white appearance in the overall icing and assists in accurate colouring.

Both very good reasons to try this recipe. I wasn’t going to argue.

Wiltons Buttercream Icing

I had a go at making a batch up with the Thermomix and I’m sure glad that I had my trusty wonder machine because Copha is rock hard. You can leave it out of the fridge and it is still pretty hard to cut up, let alone whip. The resulting icing was easy to feed into bags and beautiful to control while piping. Even on the hot, sticky day on which I was icing the cupcakes, the icing maintained its form well. A pure butter icing is usually a nightmare at this point :| Once I iced the cupcakes, I noted that the icing held its shape beautifully and was very receptive to sprinkles, glitter powder and everything else I threw at it. I didn’t need to refrigerate my cakes either; I simply put my tier in an air-conditioned room until I was ready to make Miss Three’s day :)

Hopefully this doesn’t come off as a plug for Wilton but the tier I used at the party is also from Wilton. Fancy!

Wiltons Buttercream Icing

Wilton’s Buttercream Icing Recipe (original here) – Makes about 3 cups of icing which covered 30 cupcakes

250g solid vegetable shortening such as Copha (Aussies can source Crisco from USA Foods but Copha worked a treat)
250g butter or margarine softened
1 teaspoon clear vanilla extract (I don’t mind little eeny weeny dots so used real vanilla)
4 cups sifted confectioners’ sugar (aka powdered or icing sugar – no need to worry about sifting if using Thermomix)
2 tablespoons milk

To make: In large bowl, cream shortening and butter with electric mixer. Add vanilla. Gradually add sugar, one cup at a time, beating well on medium speed. Scrape sides and bottom of bowl often. When all sugar has been mixed in, icing will appear dry. Add milk and beat at medium speed until light and fluffy. Keep bowl covered with a damp cloth until ready to use.

If using the Thermomix, chop the Copha up into cubes and chop on Speed 5/6 for 10 seconds or so. Add butter also cut up into cubes and combine together on Speed 5/6 for a few seconds. Add vanilla and the sugar a cup at a time, and use Speed 2/3/4 depending on how well the sugar gets integrated. The Thermomix works best when there is some liquid to assist with the movement of the ingredients so add a tablespoon of milk now. Keep combining sugar at various speeds until fully combined and smooth. Add remaining milk and colouring if using.

For best results, keep icing bowl in refrigerator when not in use. Refrigerated in an airtight container, this icing can be stored 2 weeks. Rewhip before using.

73 Comments

  1. Meggy March 3, 2011 Reply

    Hurray! a solution to buttercream icing.
    I used to use an amazing icing recipe from ourbestbites but it involved more bowls than i can ever be bother with. also copha! i always buy too much stuff for xmas/parties so its good to know what else i could use it for.
    Your cupcakes are adorable! A vey lucky daughter indeed!

    • Monica March 3, 2011 Reply

      Thanks :) I don’t know how I’d go making this recipe with a regular mixer but I guess it’s a matter of getting everything to room temperature as much as possible. Copha is a brick! I’ll keep a block in the fridge handy from now on though.

  2. Maluhia March 3, 2011 Reply

    You can source Crisco from the American Foods section of David Jones in Perth CBD :)

  3. I have also been on the hunt for a non rancid-sludging buttercream as well, so thank you m’dear! Copha scares the bejesus out of me, but I’m willing to conquer my fear for the sake of pretty cupcakes.

  4. Mary March 3, 2011 Reply

    Thanks so much for sharing this with us. Your cupcakes are quite beautiful. I’m new to your blog and don’t often comment. I just wanted you to know how much I learn from my visits here with you. I hope you have a wonderful day. Blessings…Mary

  5. Lindi Turnipseed March 16, 2011 Reply

    LOVE the cupcakes. WHERE did you get the little ladies on top??? I have two darling granddaughters who both love fairies/ princesses/ etc. hugs from the US

    • Monica March 16, 2011 Reply

      Hello and thank you for stopping past :) The candy fairy toppers came from my local supermarket so I’m not sure if can source the exact ones in the US or online but there are many other darling toppers out there :) The cupcake case had fairies on them too -> http://ow.ly/4fsdp

  6. Taralee March 20, 2011 Reply

    I use this Wilton recipe all the time. It takes ages to mix the copha Monica! I use my “bar mixer” & get out as many lumps as possible (this takes ages & ages) then continue on using my bar mixer when adding the icing sugar by the end most lumps are gone.

    Is the US vegetable shortening softer then our copha? I wonder if its worth trying the stuff from David Jones.

    • Monica March 21, 2011 Reply

      Hey there :) I use my Thermomix and even that takes time. Copha is such a bizarre thing lol
      From memory Crisco is much softer as it comes in a bucket and you can scoop what you need out. I’ll try it next time :D

  7. sweeni perera March 22, 2011 Reply

    I’m also using copha for butter cream icing but when I mix butter/margarine the colour always changes.
    Can u advise me of the butter I should use to have white colour icing? Thanks.

    • Monica March 22, 2011 Reply

      Hi there. There is a product made by Wilton that is essentially a icing whitener (http://ow.ly/4ji1i ) but I have not tried it before. The ladies at Kitchen Warehouse (Australia) swear by it. I used butter so my icing ended up being off-white but still white enough to take colour well and well, look white :)
      If you don’t want to use this product you will need to find the least yellow butter or margarine available and make sure it is as fresh as possible. Butter tends to get more yellow the older it is and the longer it has been exposed to air. I don’t recommend margarine unless you have dietary reasons to not use butter; it tends to be quite yellow. Some of the European butters (Lurpak and other French ones) are quite light in colour.

  8. Hi, there, Monica!
    I saw your post on the Wilton forum and just wanted to come over and check out your cupcakes… They’re adorable! I also use the Wilton recipe as my basic recipe, and then substitute different extracts and stuff for flavor, depending on what I want.
    I also wanted to let you know that you guys over there in Australia (I’m in the USA) can order Crisco from an online store… (http://www.usafoods.com.au/store/search.php?skey=Crisco&cat=-1&type=SEARCH) I’m not sure if it would be worth it for you, but thought you would like to have the opportunity anyways! :-) Based on what I’ve read, copha isn’t very much like our version of shortening at all. The shortening we use here, Crisco, doesn’t necessarily need to be refrigerated and is not hard at room temperature. You can buy it in tubs or in sticks, but I usually buy the sticks because it’s easier to measure (the US measurements are on the side of the package and you just cut the package across the line). Hope this helps you guys a little! :-)

    • Monica April 12, 2011 Reply

      Hi Sandie. Thanks for stopping by and letting me know about Crisco. I love usafoods.com.au but happily found that my local grocer stocks it also. It’s about double the price of Copha though but probably worth it! I’ll try Crisco with my next batch of cupcakes as Copha is hard work :|
      I must say that Copha does impart a nice, subtle coconut taste and scent to the icing though :D

  9. Even though the Copha sounds like it’s quite difficult to work with, I find myself wanting to try it now, after your comment stating that it imparts a subtle coconut taste and scent… YUM!! Can I find that here in the US?! Lol

  10. Iris April 17, 2011 Reply

    You can buy this vegetable shortening at How to Cook
    68 Sixth Avenue, Cotton Tree Qld 4558 ph 07 5443 6210

    • Monica April 18, 2011 Reply

      Thanks! We drove around Cotton Tree once :) I’ll know where to go if I make cupcakes while visiting the Sunny Coast :D

  11. Sally May 2, 2011 Reply

    I have been using copha to make icing for years and took me awhile but have sorted now, always a crowd pleaser especially with the kids. I actually use all copha and then you do get a whiter icing. Hard work creaming it but well worth it.

    • Monica May 4, 2011 Reply

      I loved the result! You don’t need to use a lot either as it spreads so nicely :D

  12. Thermonix May 26, 2011 Reply

    Thanks for posting this. The icing looks fab and I am going to try it on my son’s 1st birthday cake! Just wondering whether you needed to use the butterfly at all with the Thermomix?

    • Monica May 26, 2011 Reply

      Hope it works out nicely for you but I’m sure it will especially with a Thermomix. I don’t know how the butterfly would go with Crisco and other softer vegetable fats but if using harder ones like Copha, I would not use it. The blades alone with get the icing whipped to perfection :)

  13. Delores June 16, 2011 Reply

    Hi, I live in Charlotte, NC and i took wilson classes and love to do akes. I really want to try this Copha and am hoping to be able to locate it. I feel the icing made with Crisco and even the hi-ratio shortening is great but tastes to greasy. You can feel the grease on the topo of your mouth and it turns me off. thank you for posting.

    • Monica July 8, 2011 Reply

      Hi there :) I think you might be hard-pressed finding Copha in the US. It does need refrigeration so an international food store might be able to get some in? Copha is hard to work with but it only gives you a slight coconut taste as opposed to a fatty taste attack :)

  14. Nioka July 15, 2011 Reply

    Hi all :0 Just stunbled by while google’ing Crisco, lol…. I’m Aussie & use copha for all my BC recipes. Tried leaving it on bench overnight – was way too much work for my liking, lol. So I now melt it in the microwave, leave it on bench while I get the rest of my stuff ready & go for gold!!! so much easier & instead of taking 30 minutes to cream, it takes about 10 now ;) I also found the longer it whips, the whiter it gets – I use unsalted home brand butter. Also, to get a crusting buttercream, I use pavlova magic (in place of meriangue ? powder)…. Have had rave reviews since starting to do it this way!! HTH xx

  15. Jodie Emerton January 23, 2012 Reply

    Hi thanks for posting this recipe I also like the Wilton Buttercream and to tell the truth never thought about doing it in my Thermo mix however when I need to use it I go to my local cake decorating shop or Woolworths Bakery and ask for the shortening they sell,apparently they have 2 types so I always ask for the Tropical blend because it can be quite humid at times in Newcastle also it is soft and so easy to work with

    • Monica January 28, 2012 Reply

      Thanks for stopping by :) To be honest, I would chop up Copha as small as possible with a knife before inflicting it on the TMX. Copha frosting apparently fried my friend’s regular kitchen mixer. The TMX is mighty but not taking any chances! I found some Crisco and it is much easier to use but I much prefer the taste of Copha.

  16. trish January 29, 2012 Reply

    hi, i’m a native kentucky gal living in oz for the past 5 years, and the last time i was home i ordered copha from here…

    http://www.simplyoz.com/products/australian_foods/vegemite__groceries__beverages/cooking_supplies/copha/

    they also have it at continental food stores, just thought I would share :)

    • Monica February 2, 2012 Reply

      Thanks for posting the link :)

  17. Trish February 3, 2012 Reply

    I just had to pop back in and say, I made this icing tonight with Copha,and grated it by hand first, it blended beautifully, and made a wonderful ,light fluffy icing that held it’s shape superbly…thought I would share this tip.

    • Monica February 6, 2012 Reply

      ‘Grate’ tip Trisha! Thanks (sorry, I couldn’t resist!). That would make it much easier for my TMX too!

  18. Erica February 6, 2012 Reply

    Have you ever had any trouble with Wilton colouring staining any parts of the TMX after making icing? e.g. lid, lid seal or o-ring on the blade?

    • Monica February 6, 2012 Reply

      Good question Erica! I haven’t used Wilton colours but Queen brand is pretty strong too. I have stains on my hand today still from playing around with it yesterday :|
      I have used all colours of Queen in my TMX and stainless steel Kitchen Aid bowl and neither stained. I think as long as you are adding dye to your mixture, it shouldn’t be a problem. Red or red based colours are weak so any stain tends to fade away eventually with some UV. Blue and green are strong but as I discovered with my Blue Velvet cupcakes, those colours will give you a nasty surprise the next day so I don’t use it strong enough to stain anything. The lid and ring are fairly dark too so if Wilton colours are really strong and do stain a little, I would think it will eventually fade too and you won’t notice it so much?

  19. Erica February 6, 2012 Reply

    Gorgeous cupcakes, by the way! I haven’t been game enough to use Wilton colouring yet in my TMX as it’s so darn strong!

  20. Christina February 25, 2012 Reply

    This is just fantastic! Thank you so much for sharing! I’ve used your recipie twice now and it’s perfect! I’ve left the copha out overnight (24 hrs) and it is super soft so just chuck the copha & butter in my TMX together – just brill! thanks! Oh and no staining either & I’ve used red (2 pots!) and green :) Soo so good!

    • Monica February 27, 2012 Reply

      Great! I’ve tried using Crisco and I have to say I do prefer Copha which has a less obvious fatty taste :) I tried Wilton gel colours recently and they didn’t even make a mark on the mighty TMX :) I’ll remember to keep the Copha at room temperature. Makes sense!

  21. Michelle March 20, 2012 Reply

    Is confectioners sugar regular sugar or icing sugar?

    • Monica March 20, 2012 Reply

      Thanks for bringing that up. I have included all terms for it in the recipe but confectioners sugar is also known as powdered or icing sugar.

  22. Michelle March 21, 2012 Reply

    Great so I can make that from raw sugar in my tmx prior :)

    • Monica March 21, 2012 Reply

      You sure can :)) Just make sure it’s super fine for light and fluffy icing.

  23. bronwyne May 17, 2012 Reply

    hi, i have just started with trying to make buttercream and was wondering when you add flavourings do you have to adjust any quantities of other ingredients?

    • Monica May 21, 2012 Reply

      Hi Bronwyne. It will depend on what sort of flavouring. If you mean the concentrated stuff that you wouldn’t add more than a 1/2 tsp of, then you don’t need to modify any icing recipe. If you want a chocolate icing, then you probably need to remove an equal amount of the icing sugar for the cocoa you’d use, or add the cocoa and add more fat as needed to make the icing useable. If you were going to add a fruit puree then add a small amount and adjust the icing according to how that amount has changed its consistency. If the puree has made things too liquid, then add a small amount of icing sugar until the consistency is right for you.

  24. Elke May 30, 2012 Reply

    Hi…If I can get the cohpa soft by leaving it out overnight, could I make this icig in my kitchenaid mixer do you think ?

    • Monica May 30, 2012 Reply

      If you can get Copha as soft as butter at room temperature then you should be able to get a decent icing. A KitchenAid has a lot of power but Copha doesn’t blend with other ingredients as well as butter so the paddle might not cut it. It would be like making icing with cold butter in the KitchenAid. I believe Copha can get pretty soft if left at room temperature though so please try :)

  25. Elke May 30, 2012 Reply

    Sorry me again…also is it icing sugar mixture or pure icing sugar ? Sorry am a bit of a novice

    • Monica May 30, 2012 Reply

      I only ever use pure icing sugar which is 100% pulverised sugar. Icing sugar mixtures usually have corn starch blended through which makes for a more glossy icing if only mized with milk or water. I’d use pure icing sugar if mixing with fats :)

  26. Elke June 3, 2012 Reply

    Thank you so much ! The icing was perfect and the kitchenaid worked a treat !

  27. Emma July 21, 2012 Reply

    When i make this icing i soften ( sometimes melt) the copha in the microwave first. Works really well!

    • Monica July 27, 2012 Reply

      Great :) I’ll keep that in mind. Should make for a glossier icing too I think.

  28. Mel August 24, 2012 Reply

    If you’re using a kitchenaid: I half soften half melt the copha in the microwave and then whip it in the kitchen aid until it’s white and glossy. I fill the sink with ice water and periodically dunk the bowl/scrape down the sides before whipping again. It eventually will form stiff peaks and resemble something similar in texture to Crisco. I then followed the recipe from there. I’m not sure if the same effect is achieved by shredding, but I honestly just hate shredding things so I thought I’d throw this method out there. I’d prefer to use Crisco though, I actually like the greasy mouthfeel it gives as it’s what I grew up with. :)

    • Monica September 3, 2012 Reply

      Thanks so much for the tip. Crisco and Copha definitely give different results with Crisco providing that indulgent texture ;) I don’t mind either but Copha is more affordable/accessible in Australia I guess :)

  29. maria September 23, 2012 Reply

    Hi 2 weeks in frig is great but wouldn’t the milk go bad

    • Monica September 23, 2012 Reply

      Good question :) There is so much sugar in icing that it acts as a preservative of sorts. It supposedly absorbs any additional moisture that the milk culture hasn’t got much to go bad with. Things need air, water and warmth to go bad generally so I think you’re safe with icing/frosting. To be safe you can use water instead.

  30. Jacqueline September 27, 2012 Reply

    As a non-thermomix owner *sob* I was wondering if you use heat when mixing? I have made W’s BC recipe once & used ALL butter… Definitely want to try the copha next time but unsure how you do it in the TMX….?

    • Monica September 27, 2012 Reply

      Never fear :) I would not melt the Copha or any vegetable fat to liquid and then use it in an icing. It has to remain somewhat solid in order for the frosting to be fluffy and manageable. What you can do is get the Copha to room temperature then use a grater to get the pieces as small as possible. The Copha should then be no trouble at all in a regular food processor or even a hand mixer. The grating may take time and patience but it’s worth the effort :)

  31. Oh this is great! I still have a block of copha that I don’t know what to do with! I’m a bit funny with using shortening too though but I have this version of it which tastes horrible but is apparently great in frosting! :)

    • Monica October 29, 2012 Reply

      Thanks :) Some people seem to like that unique, greasy taste and feel of shortening based frosting but I much prefer the less fatty frosting that copha makes. Of course, I like butter frosting the most but you can’t get it perfectly white.

  32. 3margarets November 13, 2012 Reply

    What about coconut oil instead of Copha? Much healthier as not hydrogenated.

    • Monica November 23, 2012 Reply

      I love coconut oil/butter but it has such a low melting point that I’m not sure how it’d work in frosting that has to maintain shape. I think even butter holds better in warm climates. However, if you’re after a softer icing then coconut oil would be amazing. I must try it some time!

  33. Rebecca November 26, 2012 Reply

    You mentioned above that fresher butter is whiter then older butter. Have you ever made this with fresh butter made in the TM?

  34. Angela January 12, 2013 Reply

    BEST ICING EVER – n i just used a hand held mixer….worked just fine!

    • Monica January 16, 2013 Reply

      Great to hear :) I think as long as the Copha is at room temperature it should work fine with any mixer.

  35. Kaz March 18, 2013 Reply

    Could sub in coconut oil for the copha as it’s a lot healthier

    • Monica March 18, 2013 Reply

      Hello. I think someone else suggested that they tried coconut oil (solid) instead of Copha and it worked fine. I can’t imagine why it wouldn’t although I’d say it’s not going to be as stable in warmer weather so it might not hold its shape as well. I personally do like coconut oil but can only use the refined type as the lauric acid (the stuff that’s good for you) in the unrefined type tastes soapy to me :(

  36. Ali P April 14, 2013 Reply

    The closest thing to Crisco in Aussie is Solite but I am pretty sure that it comes in boxes for commercial purposes according to the local cake decorators (40 year old business)and cant be bought through the supermarket However they said Copha is the same as crisco but copha has a higher melting point to withstand the heat of our summers thats why it is in block form and harder to whip up and crisco is prewhipped and softened. You can grate room temperature copha the helps a lot when trying to whip it and is much kinder to your mixer.

  37. Louise April 27, 2013 Reply

    I really don’t want to use Crisco or Copha as are both made with hydrogenated fats which a really bad for your health …. Does anyone know of a non hydrogenated alternative? Or can I use lard?

    • Monica April 28, 2013 Reply

      I think someone suggested trying coconut oil but I find it a little unstable in warmer temperatures so it’ll depend on what you need the icing for. The recipe is ideally to provide a snow white (or close to white) icing that can be shaded correctly or looks properly white. If this isn’t something you’re worried about then it’s fine to use good old butter or a non-hydrogenated margarine as your fat. I am not at all sure how lard would go with icing. I think I would prefer to use butter and not have a pure white icing :)

  38. Liv B July 30, 2013 Reply

    I spotted the picture & description on pinterest first, read through the entire article & then saw Moni staring back at me! Turns out it was your pin in the first place but goodness me I’m not a details person! I did try this recipe once & struggled to get everything combined in the Thermomix. Keen to try it again though given our Summers are as hot as they are!

    • Author
      Moni August 5, 2013 Reply

      He he. The internet world’s getting smaller and smaller! I’ve started using Pinterest a bit more so I’ll pop up here and there hopefully lol The recipe is great but it does require the Copha to be as warm as it can get before it liquefies and cut into small pieces before blitzing. There’s a lot of good tips in the comments section. x

  39. Sharon T August 7, 2013 Reply

    I’m making a 2 tiered layered birthday cake for my daughter, and have been scouring around the web looking for a buttercream recipe that I can use as a filling between layers and as a crumb coat – however keeping in mind I’m using fondant over the top of both cakes and obviously I don’t want to refrigerate cakes when there’s fondant involved. So I need to know whether I can use this buttercream recipe without putting in the fridge? (BTW I’m in Brisbane Qld, so having cooler moderate weather at the moment)

    • Author
      Moni August 7, 2013 Reply

      Hi Sharon. The Buttercream Icing recipe is great with all butter but I do recommend using Copha as it does offer more stability in warmer weather and doesn’t require refrigeration. I made the icing specifically for that reason (February birthday party in Perth…) and it held its shape very well. I think therefore it would work well as a crumb coat and filling. Perhaps have a dummy run too as I don’t know what equipment you have and the Copha will (at room temperature) either need to be chopped up finely or grated, then whipped up into the icing. You can then assess the ratio of Copha to butter works best for you, or if you need to use all Copha. I think a balance of the two should be fine as long as you aren’t fussed about having a pure white icing. Hope it works well for you!

  40. Cook October 21, 2013 Reply

    Does the copha give the icing/frosting much of a different, or funny, taste? Also, is this very close to the kind of buttercream icing that bakeries use in their delicacies?

    • Author
      Moni November 4, 2013 Reply

      Hi Cook :) Copha is pretty neutral and I can usually only detect it on the nose when I make Chocolate Crackles. When mixed in with a whole lot of sugar and vanilla, I can’t notice any taste difference. As for whether this is the sort of ‘mock cream’ used by bakeries I would hazard to guess not, and that most such creams use lard or some other cheaper shortening.

  41. Kristy November 24, 2014 Reply

    Hi! I know this post isn’t recent but I’m just wanting to ask – will this be ok under fondant? I’m decorating a carrot cake on the weekend and was thinking of making spiced orange flavored buttercream for the filling and underneath fondant… What do you think?

    Would have loved to have used cream cheese buttercream but it’s really hot here atm and I won’t be able to refrigerate it once decorated.

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