Hi, I love baking but it seems my hobby is going downhill. I normally make plain cakes/cupcakes which taste fine but my favourite is chocolate. Till today and after many failed recipes I still haven't found a good recipe. Nevertheless, I enrolled on a cake decorating course so I can learn the art of decorating cakes but I don't want to eat them. The reason is because we are starting with buttercream. I live in the UK and I aim to make all my recipes suitable for vegetarians and alcohol free. Okay I still use milk, eggs etc. but anyway Most recipes ask for confectioners sugar, butter and water. Some say add vanilla essence but I haven't found an alcohol free version in the supermarket yet. The recipe is too sweet or simply is not to my tastes. I recently read about italian buttercream as well as swiss buttercream. I have read that Italian buttercream tastes better but the steps seem a little difficult. I don't have a stand mixer but I could borrow one however it is old and would not be able to run on a motor for 30 minutes at a time so I would have to resort to a hand mixer unless I can use a smoothie maker or something. I have found this post http://whisk-kid.blogspot.com/2010/08/how-to-make-italian-meringue.html which desn't mention having to mix for so long and not needing a stand mixer. I only have a hand mixer so I thought I would try it but I am a little afraid. 1) Is this recipe good? 2) Will it come out white even if I use yellow butter? 3) Is it too sweet? I have decided I will not use confectioners sugar anymore because it is simply too sweet. Please give me clear advice as I am on my mission to find the perfect recipe. I know there are recipes out there which aren't too sweet because I have eaten cakes with buttercream icing which aren't too sweet. Thank you.