Buttercream Frosting
2 cup vegetable shortening (may also use 1 cup butter and 1 cup shortening)
4 tablespoons water
2 teaspoon clear extract (almond, butter or vanilla are favorites)
2 tablespoon meringue powder
8 cups sifted powdered sugar (2 lbs)
Sift powdered sugar into large bowl. Set aside.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream shortening, water and extract on medium speed until smooth and creamy. Slowly add meringue powder and sifted sugar with mixer on a low speed. Mix until combined. 
Makes a stiff frosting. Add 1 tablespoon water at a time to thin to desired consistency.
Will crust quickly even in humid conditions. Keep covered with damp cloth.
Store covered in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.
Makes enough to fill and frost one layered, 10 inch cake. 
Cream Cheese Frosting
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter at room temperature
4 ounces cream cheese at room temperature
1/2 tbsp. clear vanilla extract
1 Lb. sifted powered sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
Cream butter and cream cheese together in stand mixer on medium speed. Add in vanilla. With mixer on low speed slowly add in powdered sugar and salt. Once sugar is incorporated, increase mixer to medium speed until frosting is creamy.
2 pounds powdered sugar, sifted
3 tablespoons cold water
1 tablespoon unflavored gelatin
1/2 cup light corn syrup (or glucose)
1 1/2 tablespoons glycerine
1 tablespoon vanilla extract (or preferred flavoring)
Sift about one pound (half a bag) of powdered sugar into a large bowl. Make a well in the center. Set aside.
In a small bowl, combine cold water and gelatin. Allow the mixture to set for about 2 minutes.
Fill a large saucepan with water and boil over medium heat. When water comes to a full boil, remove lid and set a large pyrex bowl on top of pan. Add in gelatin mixture and melt over heat. Once melted, turn off burner and add in corn syrup, glycerine and vanilla. Stir to combine ingredients. Carefully remove the glass bowl from heat setting on a dish towel to wipe off water on outside of bowl. Pour ingredients into well of powdered sugar. Using a rubber spatula, begin to add the wet ingredients into the powdered sugar. Stir starting in the center and fanning outward slowly bringing in more powdered sugar. Sift in more powdered sugar as needed. When it becomes to hard to stir with a spatula, dump fondant out onto work surface and knead in as much of the remaining powdered sugar as needed. Fingers should easily be released from fondant when pushed in. If fondant seems to sticky, add more powdered sugar (humid environments will require more sugar than drier climates).
Wrap tightly in plastic wrap and then in a gallon plastic bag, storing for twenty-four hours at room temperature before using.
2 large egg whites
pinch of salt
2/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon almod extract
8 oz finely ground blanched almonds (about 2 cups)
30 whole almonds (optional)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and line two baking sheets with a non-slip mat or parchment paper.
Beat eggs whites in a mixer for 30 seconds then add salt and beat on medium high speed for 1 to 2 minutes until soft peaks form.
With mixer still on medium high speed, slowly add the sugar beating for 5 to 8 minutes until stiff and glossy. Stir in almond extract.
Fold in ground almonds using a rubber spatula.
Using a cookie scoop or spoon, drop dough onto lined cookie sheets. 
Add an almond to the center of each cookie if desired.
Bake for 14 minutes until lightly browned rotating cookie sheets halfway through. Allow to cool on cookie sheets for 2 minutes then transfer to cooling racks. May be stored at room temperature for up to a week or in the freezer for up to 1 month.
Makes about 30 cookies.
Strawberry-Lemonade Cupcakes
Makes 2 dozen cupcakes.
2 1/4 cups cake flour
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
3/4 tsp. salt
2 tsp. lemon zest
12 tbsp. unsalted butter at room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 eggs at room temperature
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
2 cups fresh strawberries, chopped
Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Line muffin pan with paper liners.
In a large bowl combine flour, baking powder, salt and lemon zest. Whisk together. Set aside. 
In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat butter on medium speed until light and fluffy. Add sugar and beat until creamy. Add eggs in one at a time allowing them to be completely incorporated before adding the next. 
Combine the milk and lemon juice. Alternatively add the flour mixture and mild mixture to the creamed butter beating on low speed until smooth. Fold in the fresh strawberries with a spatula.
Fill paper liners two-thirds of the way full with batter. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center cupcake comes out clean. Allow pan to cool on wire wrack for 5 minutes before removing cupcakes. Allow cupcakes to cool completely before frosting.
Royal Icing
Makes enough to cover 1 dozen sugar cookies
2 large egg whites (or 4 teaspoons Meringue Powder plus 4 tablespoons water)
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
3 cups sifted powdered sugar
Combine all ingredients in the bowl of an electric mixer. Beat on low speed for 7-10 minutes until hard peaks form. Icing will be shiny.
Add water a little at a time to thin icing for flooding. Test consistency by scooping out some of the icing with your spatula and letting it run back in. When icing smooths within 5 seconds, you have achieved the proper constancy.
Do not refrigerate royal icing. Store at room temperature in air-tight container.
Sugar Cookies
Makes about 1 dozen, 3 inch cookies
2 1/3 cups plus 2 tablespoons of all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 cup of unsalted butter
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon of extract (vanilla, almond or butter are my favorites)
Sift first three ingredients together into a medium bowl. Set aside.
Cream butter and sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy using the paddle attachment of your mixer. Add egg and extract beating until combined.
Slowly add in flour with mixer on low speed, scraping bowl as needed.
Pour dough onto plastic wrap. Wrap in plastic and form dough into a disk. Refrigerate for 30 minutes to 1 hour.
Place chilled dough between two sheets of parchment paper. Roll until dough is 1/4 inch thick. Using a cookie cutter or your own template, cut out shapes and place on cookie sheet. Refrigerate for 1 hour or until cut dough is firm. Repeat with remaining dough.
Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 10-12 minutes or until cookies are light brown around the edges. Allow to cool completely on cookie sheets before decorating.
White Chocolate Buttercream
Makes 6 cups 
1 package, 12 ounces white chocolate chips
1/2 cup milk divided
1 cup vegetable shortening
1 cup unsalted butter at room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 tablespoon meringue powder*
8 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted
Poor white chocolate and 1/4 cup milk into heat-proof bowl. Melt chocolate in microwave for 1-2 minutes or over a double boiler. Stir chocolate occasionally to prevent burning. Remove from heat when just melted.
Cream butter and shortening and extract in mixer on medium speed. Add the meringue powder
With mixer on low speed, gradually beat in sugar scraping side of bowl as needed.
Add remaining 1/4 cup of milk beating on medium speed until frosting is light and fluffy.
Add in melted white chocolate continuing to beat on medium/low speed.
Because this frosting contains milk, it should not be left out at room temperature for extended amounts of time. Frosting will become stiff after refrigerating. Simply put back in mixer and beat on medium/low speed until creamy.
*May omit meringue powder. Due to the high humidity in Okinawa, I find that meringue helps frosting to crust faster.