Win Friends and Influence People: With Cupcakes!


So if you’re anything like me, you are probably smart, beautiful, funny, and in your late 20’s to early 30’s. This also means that you have lots of great friends, coworkers, and family that demand a LOT of your attention in the form of showers. I don’t mean that they are raining on your parade. They are getting married and having babies. What this means for us is that most of our weekends are spent sitting around tables making small talk over melon chunks from a grocery store fruit platter. Sometimes people get creative but for the most part shower food does not deviate. A bowl of nuts, the aforementioned fruit tray, maybe an array of cheese cubes and an appropriately colored lemonade. But what can YOU do about that, dear Nerdship?


You can bring homemade cupcakes! You can bring homemade cupcakes that people think were ordered from the best bakery in town. There really is no better feeling in the world than making a beautiful cupcake. I will admit I have never birthed a child or saved someone’s life so in the event those things do happen maybe I will change my mind. But now, its cupcakes hands down. When you bring a well decorated and delicious cupcake to a gathering everyone appreciates it. Plus you get to eat cupcakes.


I recently took a cake decorating class and I learned a very valuable secret. How do professional bakers get their icing to be kind of stiff instead of just running off the sides of the cupcakes? How do they make those big swirls of frosting? The secret is high ratio shortening! The only problem is that it can’t be bought in regular stores. You can find it at specialty baking stores and on Amazon if you would like to try the recipe below. It comes in what you would think are crazy amounts, who needs three pounds of this stuff?! But its shelf stable and lasts for a long time, so if you like to bake it’s worth it.  I really like this recipe because you can do so much with it. You can add food colorings and flavors. You can make pink icing for girl babies or blue icing for Tardis cakes. Since it dries or “sets” pretty quickly you can really go to town decorating, but you have to act fast once it’s exposed to air. Keep it in an airtight container while you are working and replace the top every so often.


Here’s the recipe:

  • 1 & ½ cups high ratio shortening
  • 1 stick unsalted butter
  • 1/3 cup of water
  • 1 tsp of  flavoring I used vanilla to make vanilla buttercream but you can you lemon or any flavor you like! Experiment!
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 2 lbs powdered sugar- I bought 1lb boxes so it made measuring easy.


  • Beat shortening and butter together until smooth.
  • Mix the water, salt and flavoring together in a separate bowl and gradually add it to the shortening mixture while it’s still being beaten.
  • Slowly add half the sugar and beat until it’s smooth. Then slowly add the second half and beat until it’s smooth, creamy and it should be a little fluffy.
  • This makes 7 cups of icing which can cover about 50 cupcakes easily. You can refrigerate leftovers for up to 6 weeks so it’s great to make ahead. Just re-beat before you go to use it.


So for the most recent baby shower that I attended I used a boxed cake mix. Let’s not get crazy, if you are making frosting from scratch no one is going to notice if the cake is from a box. When your icing is this good you don’t have to worry about the cake. Once the cupcakes were all baked and cooled and ready to be iced I set to work. I first cut the end off of the cake decorating bag so I could insert the decorating tip.



Once I filled the bag with the icing I just piped big swirls on each cupcake. And ta-da! They were perfect! This is a super easy and fun way to contribute to someone’s special day. I would love to hear if anyone has any creative ideas on how to use this icing!



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