Best Of The Basics: Cream Cheese Frosting

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The Scoop:

I’m back for another round of Best Of The Basics.  You know, those standard recipes that we all need to have safely stored in our back pocket.  We’re also talking Valentine’s Day allllllll week, so I thought Cream Cheese Frosting would be a good place to start.  Personally I love cream cheese frosting because it has that little extra tang that you don’t get from a standard butter cream so I find that it supports itself nicely to balance out an extra sweet cake.  Nothing fancy going on here, just cream cheese, butter, sugar, vanilla, and cream.  Basically a list of my favorite ingredients.

In interesting news about this frosting (and tomorrow’s cupcake recipe), I realized it is pretty difficult (read: impossible) to take pictures of oneself frosting a cupcake.  I’ve become pretty dang good at maneuvering the camera in the kitchen while slicing, frying, and precariously pulling pans in and out of the oven.  But when it comes to decorating a cupcake, well, its just sort of one of those things that you need 2 hands for.  Normally I would ask Roommate to take the photos, but since she wasn’t home I had no choice but to con my friend Scott into walking over to my house on a 15 degree day (yes, this is real) to take photos of me… frosting cupcakes.   In my defense, he only lives 4 blocks away.  But nonetheless, it was 15 degrees out, so yes, he does win the good friend award for this month.  AND he got a cupcake, you got some step-by-step photos, and I had the opportunity to post one of my favorite dessert recipes.  Sounds like a win-win-win to me!

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The Goods:


  • 1 8oz package of cream cheese, at room temp
  • 4 Tbs (1/2 stick) salted butter, at room temp
  • 4 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 Tbs cream, half and half, or milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla

The Deets:


Be sure to let the butter and cream cheese come to room temperature, but you don’t want them to be overly soft and mushy.  Drop them both into the bowl of a stand mixer fit with the paddle attachment and beat on medium-high speed until light and fluffy.  It should only take about 30 seconds and I recommend stopping to scrape the sides of the bowl down with a spatula half way through the process.  Add 1 cup of powdered sugar and mix on low speed until incorporated, then crank the speed up for about 10 seconds.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl and repeat the process with the second cup of sugar.  If find that slowly increasing the speed of the mixer this way really helps to incorporate the sugar, but eliminate lumps.


Add the 2 Tbs of dairy (half and half is my favorite) and the vanilla, then mix on medium speed until mixture is smooth.  Add the final two cups of sugar, 1 cup at a time, using the same process described before.  Mix slowly to incorporate the sugar, then quickly to eliminate lumps.  Once all of the ingredients are combined, crank the speed up to medium-high and beat for about 2 minutes, stopping once or twice to scrape down the sides of the bowl.  The frosting will be quite soft, so I recommend refrigerating it for about a half hour if you plan to pipe it.  It should work well in its soft state if you plan to spread it, you’ll just need to refrigerate the cake after you finish decorating so the frosting can set.


Check back tomorrow and we’ll talk about my very favorite Red Velvet Cake recipe and about just how easy it is to frost cupcakes!

The Inspiration:

I’ve used a lot of cream cheese frosting recipes over the years.  Over time the evolved into this, which I think is the perfect combination of texture and flavor.


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