1. Cream shortening and butter with an electric, handheld, or paddle-whip mixer. Add flavoring and salt. Gradually add sugar, one cup at a time. Add meringue powder. (The mixture will appear dry.)
2. Add liquid of choice and beat until light and fluffy (approximately 5 to 8 minutes). Keep the bowl covered with a damp cloth or plastic wrap.
Storage: Store the icing in an airtight container and freeze for up to 3 months.
Yield: 2 1/2 quarts (2.37 L)
MASTER CHEF'S HINT Add extra liquid to soften the buttercream or extra 10X confectioners' sugar to stiffen it.
• This recipe yields more than enough for two cakes—if icing only one cake, make a half recipe or freeze the extra.
• If using the icing to write on a cake, soften it with extra liquid. If using it to pipe roses, add extra confectioners' sugar.
• Meringue powder is available at amazon.com