Heehee, the butter versus Crisco and the high-ratio shortening versus Crisco and the Italian, Swiss or French Meringue recipes versus American buttercreams, always cause controversy on all of the sites.
If you are going to use butter, you want a room temperature where you are working with it, about 70F - 75F maximum. Anything warmer and it is difficult to work with, whether it is all butter or part butter. If it is exposed to temperatures of more than 83F, you will get meltdown. If your all shortening icing is exposed to temperatures of more than 89-99F you will get meltdown too. Fondant is no better at handling temperatures in this range.
I usually use salted butter and use half butter, half shortening. I use 5 cups powdered sugar instead of 4 to 1 cup of fat as my ratio, mainly because of the heat of my hands. I use 2 tbsp. of unwhipped whipping cream and thin the icing with whole milk. I use real brown pure vanilla because I really don't like the taste of the artificial clear vanilla at all and i find that even the artificial brown vanilla has a better taste than the clear ones. I use 1 1/2 tsp. of it. I think the use of real vanilla makes a big difference, although if you want a pure white icing, you won't get it with this. I do find that every bride I have had taste test the icings chose the ivory coloured icing with the real butter and real vanilla in it over the pure white all shortening icing regardless of whether she wanted a white icing or not. I would imagine that children would prefer the all shortening recipe as that is generally what they are used to from bakery cakes. It all depends on what you have grown up with, in my opinion.
I must say, I didn't mind the Whimsical Bakehouse Buttercream recipe, the high fat ratio one with the high ratio shortening. I found it to be a bit gritty, likely my powdered sugar was beet sugar and that was the issue because I had sifted it several times and still the icing was gritty. But I was surprised at how it tasted and for folks that don't like sweet icing, it would be a hit. I suppose the texture would throw a few people off because of the high ratio of fat to sugar.
I have made all of the meringue icings, but was always concerned about using the egg whites. Apparently now, according to www.baking911.com
, I was right to be concerned as the egg white temperture doesn't reach high enough as much of the heat is dissipated in the bowl. So even though I like these icings, I wouldn't risk using the actual egg whites in it if the cake was leaving the house.
Actually adding salt to sweet things is supposed to cut the sicky sweet taste and I find it does, but you have to be careful to insure it gets dissolved.
Adding a bit of coffee to chocolate icing enhances the chocolate flavour.
My favourite chocolate icings are heated or cooked.
Hugs Squirrelly Cakes