Ships Ahoy, Its a Boy! Plus, the Best Frosting Recipe for High Heat & Humidity!

Ships Ahoy! Its a Bo!… er… Imagine the “y” is there por favor. I’m definitely not good at snapping photos while chatting with my girlfriends. Thank goodness I’m better at baking cute sugar cookie toppers to sit on moist chocolate cupcakes and vanilla bean frosting!

With sailor cookies and whale cookies for party favors, the only sweet left for Katherine’s nautical baby shower was cupcakes. I absolutely love making cupcakes, but this batch was a bit daunting since the forecast was 80 percent humdity and… wait for it… 100 degree heat!

Heat + Humidity = Death to Frosting. A fact I’ve learned again and again this summer with royal icing for my sugar cookies. With cupcakes, the fear isn’t discoloration and a porous look as it is with royal icing. The fear is a puddle of bright blue frosting. Eek!

Thankfully, after much searching I found a frosting recipe that is tolerant of both heat and humidity, and isn’t comprised entirely of shortening and weird artificial powders. Better news still, it tasted great! Best news of all, it was only in the mid-80s. Phew!

See our taste-testers below for proof of yummy-ness.

The girls were having a hard time stuffing the entire cookie and cupcake in their mouths. That’s a lot of dessert for one bite.

Instead, Chloe decided to show that cupcake who was boss with one big smoosh.

* Makes enough to frost 2 dozen cupcakes

1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup trans fat free vegetable shortening
4 cups (1 pound) powdered sugar, sifted
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste or 1 vanilla bean, split and scraped
2 tablespoons cornstarch
2 tablespoons milk

1. In a mixing bowl, beat together shortening and butter until nice and fluffy.
2. Add vanilla and vanilla bean paste or seeds. Mix to combine.
3. Add powdered sugar, one cup at a time, beating with each addition until combined.
4. In a little bowl, stir cornstarch into milk until dissolved. Add milk mixture to frosting.
5. Beat on medium speed until light and fluffy.

Notes: Cover bowl of frosting with a damp cloth until ready to use. If you’re making the frosting more than 30 minutes ahead of time, store it in the fridge in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks. Before using, beat until fluffy again.

56 thoughts on “Ships Ahoy, Its a Boy! Plus, the Best Frosting Recipe for High Heat & Humidity!

    • :) Thank you, thank you! I always think one cupcake isn’t enough, but feel too piggish going for two. Add a cookie on top and voila! Problem solved 😉

    • Thanks Sue! It was my first time using the big round tip and it went pretty well. Plus, I think the cookies and blue wave frosting helped distract from boo-boo’s :)

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  2. Just made this frosting and it came out FABULOUS!!! I was a little leary on the shortening because I have had frosting made with shortening and the taste was aweful. This was raved by all. Thank you so much for sharing this. Definately will be my go to frosting during the summer.

    • Rhonda, I’m so glad the frosting worked out for you! I, too, was very skeptical about adding shortening, but keeping lots of butter in really seemed to help retain the yummy frosting flavor. Thanks for your note and glad you found this summer-friendly frosting! :)

  3. Hi, can you safely change the extract, to make this icing still taste good? I’m interested in making mango icing for a fondant covered cake.. Outdoor bday party..

  4. I made this for my daughters birthday yesterday and it was fantastic. Not only is it heat and humidity resistance but it tastes delicious and the texture was easier for me to work with. I live in korea at the moment and it is disgustingly humid. Thank you!

    • That’s awesome Christa! I’m so glad it worked out for you and especially with super high humidity! I hope your daughter (and you, too!) enjoyed her birthday party! :)

  5. The cupcakes look great! I am making a floral cupcake bouquet and need a recipe for the icing so it won’t slide off the cupcakes placed around the sides. I hope this will work. I will need to add food color to color the icing pink and purple. Will I need to alter the measurements of any of the ingredients to allow for the icing to possibly become thinner? Also, is it necessary to add vanilla bean?

    • Hey Wendy! This recipe should work really well for you. I’m a huge vanilla bean fan, so I kick up most of my vanilla frosting recipes with it, but its definitely not necessary and will still taste great without it. I use gel food dyes and a little goes a really long way, so when I dye my frosting I only add a small amount. Changing the recipe to account for the extra liquid is unnecessary. If you can get your hands on some gel dyes (Michael’s sells Wilton brand gel dyes), I’d strongly suggest it. The colors look great, you don’t need much, and they don’t impart a weird taste. Wishing you lots of luck and please let me know how your cupcake bouquet turns out! :)

  6. hi, im stuck in a sticky situation. i am going to canada on a coach bus for around 12 hours and i am making decorated cupcakes for who i am going to visit, but im worried frosting will melt or not hold its shape lets say if i did a rose. will this frosting hold its shape if i use this recipe?! oh and is it possible to use low fat or full fat vegetable shortening??! :) thank you!

    • Gosh Laura, that is a pretty sticky situation and you’ve posed some tough questions! This time of year in Canada, I would think it wouldn’t be very warm and thus no big deal in terms of melting. If the weather isn’t going to be warm, then the frosting should hold its shape just fine, roses and all. The only issue might be if your cupcakes are stored under the bus and placed adjacent to something like the engine that might get hot and cause potentially rapid fluctuations in temperature. I really don’t know how safe it is to store food under the bus. Perhaps you could call and ask the bus company. If it was me, I might make something that’s easier to transport like brownies or cookies, just to avoid the anxiety. If you go for it, do get a good cupcake carrier (we bought ours on Amazon) as they’ll likely be jostling about. As for shortening, I’ve never heard of a lowfat version, but I’d avoid it and use the regular stuff. That said, if you try lowfat and like it, let us know for future bakers! Good luck Laura and thanks for visiting!

  7. Ok, so I’m making this awesome recipe again but just realized that I don’t have corn starch! What do I do? That was my next step! Can I just put in a little milk and leave as is?

    • Uf Marielis! I don’t know :( I’ve never trying substituting the cornstarch for something else, so I have no real advice. Just to try google-ing cornstarch substitutions. Maybe arrowroot flour? I have no clue! Good luck and if you find something that works or you just leave it out and that works, please let us know!

    • Hi Jessica! Other than little accents on cookies, I haven’t worked much with fondant, so I really can’t say. In my quick google search, I found this, “There are different types of icing besides buttercream, but BC is the industry standard for cakes, and its delicious!” If this is true, there’d be no reason why this frosting wouldn’t work as it’s a fairly standard buttercream. If you try it out, please do let me know how it worked out for you. Good luck Jessica and thanks for visiting!

    • Hi Li! If you anticipate the weather being hot and humid, then unfortunately you can’t replace the shortening with butter. The shortening is what helps stabilize the frosting and prevents it from melting in the heat. If the weather isn’t a concern, then by all means go with all butter! All butter is certainly my preference, but for those hot summer days, all butter frosting will likely melt right off your cupcakes/cake. Good luck with your baking, Li! :)

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  9. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! We had to make out own cupcakes due to our initial baker having to back out…we figured cupcakes would be the easiest, but didn’t know what type of icing would survive an outdoor, June Texas party…we crossed our fingers, used your recipe…and it was AWESOME!!! TASTED GREAT, GREAT TEXTURE, AND THEY SURVIVED!!! thanks sooooo much!!!

    • Oh my gosh, sweetest comment ever! Thank you so much for taking the time to leave a note, Ricky, and I’m so thrilled the recipe worked out for you! If it can handle a June Texas party, I think this recipe is officially summer heat bullet-proof! lol. Thanks again for making my day :)

    • Hi Nikki! To answer your question, this recipe will crust over, making it use-able with the Viva smoothing, but it will likely take longer than normal. Just be patient and it’ll get there :) Thanks for visiting!

  10. Can I use this for piping & decorating too? I don’t need to do roses, but I do need to do grass & a mane. 90 degrees & 68 percent humidity in the forecast… hoping this saves the day.

  11. Can this recipe hold for two days? If I ice my cupcakes today will they hold until a saturday afternoon wedding? each cupcake will be in it’s own sealed box

    • Hm, I wish I could give you a definitive answer Jessica, but I honestly can’t say for sure. I’d be more worried about the cake than the frosting as cake tends to dry out fairly quickly especially in cupcake form as it isn’t entirely “sealed” with frosting. I wouldn’t be too worried about the frosting though. If you get brave and give it a try, please let me know how it works for you. Good luck!! :)

    • Uf, honestly Jillian, I haven’t given it a whirl yet, which now sounds insane! If you tinker around and find a choco version that works, please oh please do share! Good luck!

  12. Hi :) Thank you for sharing this recipe. It’s an absolutely lifesaver! I never would have believed that a butter cream frosting could hold up in 33 C weather with close to 100% humidity but this recipe is THE ONE!!!! Thank you, thank you, thank you!!! Just so your readers know, I reduced the sugar to 3/4 pound and it was still wonderful! Free flowing and a joy to pipe, but it still held its shape without refrigeration for 4 hours, and began to crust over after about an hour.

    • Yay Denise! I’m so glad that you had a positive experience with the buttercream recipe and very much appreciate your stopping back to share your experience. I love hearing how others tweak the recipe and how it works out. I’ll have to try the reduced sugar quantity with my next batch of frosting :) Many thanks again!!

    • Hi Lia, Storing details are in the notes below the recipe. It’s tasty on cupcakes and cakes, so I’m sure it’d work for wedding cakes, too :)

  13. Hi Michelle ! I live in Jakarta Indonesia which is humid all day, all year .Yikes.
    I guess this recipe is the same with Wilton’s usual buttercream recipe with an addition of cornstarch, am I right? I might give this one a try soon :)
    I’m not a fan of American buttercream but I do use them for decoration purposes (recently just tried frozen buttercream technique! so cool!) .

    • Hey Yooza! I can’t really speak for Wilton’s recipes as I’ve been using my own recipes for a while now. I can say that the combo of shortening and butter makes for a still tasty, but much more stable recipe than traditional buttercream. The cornstarch helps, too. If you read through the comments, lots of folks from pretty intensely humid places have tried it with good success. I hope it works for you, too! :)

  14. Hi im very interested to try your frosting cupcakes. How will I make the recipe with creamcheese for my red velvet cupcakes or chocolate flavor icing?

  15. Hi I did a bit of testing because I wanted to be convinced the recipe held up in the July heat here in Florida. It held up wonderfully! And tasted great…but when I went to taste the frosting on the test subject after it had been exposed to the sun and heat the flavor changed considerably… in fact it morphed into a flavor reminiscent of a big chain “Mart”. Any ideas on what would cause that? I had all fresh ingredients so Im confident that wasn’t the issue. I’d love to figure out what went wrong because I love the way it held up.

    • Hm, that’s pretty weird re: the flavor change! I haven’t heard of that happening nor have I experienced that myself. Is your shortening past it’s shelf life? That’d be my only guess. Also, I’d say that I never leave my treats out in the blazing sun because while the frosting holds up much better than traditional recipes, it still has butter, which can melt/go bad, so I keep them in the shade as much as possible. Sorry for the delay responding and I hope your treats turn out wonderfully! :) Good luck!

    • Hi Liz! I do wish I could help, but I haven’t tested a recipe out, so I wouldn’t want to make a recommendation. If you try something out and it works for you, please do share! :) Good luck with the party!!

  16. I am so excited to come across this! Any suggestions on how many batches it would take to cover a two tier cake? I have my son’s birthday party coming up and I need something that will stand up to the Texas heat!

  17. Hi michelle, can i omit the vanilla bean paste? I only have pure vanilla extract at home and it is very costly here to buy vanilla bean paste or vanilla bean. Also, can this recipe be used for airconditioned room? Tx a lot!

    • Hi Novi! Feel free to leave out the vanilla bean paste, but I would add a little more vanilla extract to keep the vanilla taste strong. An air conditioned room would work perfectly! Good luck baking :)

  18. Hello Michelle, thank you for this recipe since Im living here in the Philippines. Please help me how to insert the chocolate cocoa. I’ll be making a chocolate swiss roll cake and chocolate cake. Please help me. I’ll be using your recipe when making vanilla chiffon cake

    • Hi there Madiss, sorry to not be of much help, but I would just suggest looking up other chocolate frosting recipes and deciding how to go about modifying the recipe. Good luck!

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