Saturday, April 12, 2014

More Than "Basic" Cream Cheese Frosting

I found that cream cheese frosting is, for the most part, recognized as a fall/cold weather dessert component. It compliments warmer flavors, like the spice cake I made earlier this week. But don't relegate this creamy deliciousness to the cold months; there's so much more to this versatile, subtle frosting that makes it an easy go to...especially when you might not have enough butter in the fridge to make both a cake and a butter cream; this can be a life saver.

There are a ton of variations floating around out there for a basic cream cheese frosting, and one of the big differences I've noticed is that some include a bit of butter and other do not. I've found that the recipes that do include butter are a bit more stable. They're still creamy, but I think the frosting is more likely to hold its form when piped, especially when taken straight from the fridge. And, certainly, different consistencies are are needed for different baked goods; the recipes I've included can be easily adjusted to work with both cinnamon rolls and piped cake frosting by adding a bit more powdered sugar or a bit of milk.

Cream Cheese Frosting

Here's what you need:

8oz. of room temp cream cheese (I prefer to buy the bricks, rather than the tubs)
1/2 stick of room temp butter
1 tsp of vanilla extract
~3 cups of powdered sugar, depending on the consistency you need. I've gone as high as 3 1/2 for stiffer frosting

Here's what you do:

With a hand mixer or in a stand mixer, combine the cream cheese, butter, and vanilla until smooth. Ever so slowly, add in the powdered sugar a tablespoon or two at a time until smooth and thoroughly blended. At this point, you can decide for yourself how the consistency is for your purposes. For cinnamon rolls, you might want to add a table spoon of milk and re-blend to loosen up the frosting.

It's when I add the powdered sugar that my kitchen turns into a scene right out of a Northeast winter...white stuff everywhere. I strongly suggest using a stand mixer with a shield, for the sake of your clothing and your kitchen.

Note: When not in use, store the frosting in the fridge, it is dairy, after all. It's consistency, as opposed to butter cream, frosts much easier straight from the fridge.


Mint Cream Cheese Frosting - Replace the vanilla with mint extract and, if you really want to get fancy, you can add a bit of green food coloring. Sans the food coloring, I've used the mint version for fruit pizzas ans it's a really nice flavor.

Cinnamon and Sugar Cream Cheese Frosting - Add in 1/2 a teaspoon of cinnamon and blend in thoroughly.

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