OK, did that get your attention!
How many of you have made cream cheese icing only to get a soft, sometimes soupy mess that was almost impossible to ice a cake with? (I raise my hand and wave wildly). Well I’m going to tell you why that happened and help you make better cream cheese icing.
Cream cheese icing is a soft icing, it isn’t really suited for cake decorating, it is almost strictly known for its flavor. Sure you can pipe a simple border with this icing, but you really don’t want to try and make roses with it.
Let me tell you what I have learned after making cream cheese icing. First I realized that I was beating or “whipping” it too much. How can that be you say, aren’t you supposed to beat the hell out of icing to make it nice and fluffy? Yes and no. Birthday cake icing made with hydrogenated shortening ( like crisco) takes a beating and keeps getting fluffier, you can’t kill the stuff. The same icing made with all butter instead of shortening, will not stand up to such a beating, and here’s why. Shortening is 100% fat, and it is hydrogenated, incredibly stable with a high melting point. Butter is mostly fat, but also has water naturally. The more you beat butter, the more it will break down, causing the water to separate from the fat meaning that you need to keep adding more and more powdered sugar to get it nice and thick. That’s when a light bulb went on in my head! The same exact thing was happening to the cream cheese! Cream cheese has likely more water naturally than butter. That’s when I developed this method.
This is a cheesy, pleasantly sweet icing. This recipe hasn’t been tested with lower fat cream cheese, I doubt that the results would be the same, live a little, use the real deal!
Let’s get started!
Get ‘yer stuff!
Make sure that the butter and the cream cheese are at room temperature (I left mine out for 2 hours)! If it is a hot summer day and you don’t have A/C then move… Well hot days without A/C aren’t good for making any kind of icing, so if your kitchen is hot, this may turn out a bit too soft, you can remedy that by popping it in the fridge for a while.
Now in the bowl of a mixer (a hand mixer will work fine too) place the room temperature butter, vanilla, and salt. Beat until smooth.
now add your powdered sugar fluff it up before measuring, and beat until smooth. Your mixer is probably going to complain a bit if you don’t have a strong mixer. Scrape the bowl as needed.
now you should have a very stiff buttercream, it may even be a bit crumbly.
Now is where the magic happens! Add the cream cheese all at once. Now mix at the mixer’s slowest speed for one minute, until the cream cheese is just stirred in and the mixture is smooth. Scrape the bowl half way through to help it combine (I have a fancy scraping blade for my mixer). Now STOP THE MIXER! You should now have a very thick, creamy cream cheese icing where the cream cheese hasn’t broken down, creating a soupy mess! Don’t expect this to be as “fluffy” as buttercream, that’s OK, it’s awesome the way it is.
Now you have an icing that is thick enough to pipe on cupcakes or to ice a carrot cake. Feel free to double this recipe. This icing is best kept chilled, but best eaten at room temperature. If icing cupcakes take them out of the fridge 30 minutes prior to eating, a layer cake, at least an hour.
That glob of icing didn’t end up in my mouth, I swear…
- 1 stick (4 oz.) unsalted butter
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 3 1/2 cups confectioner’s sugar (fluffed before measuring)
- 8 oz. block of cream cheese (not low fat, not “whipped” or in a tub