This Cream Cheese Frosting for Topping Cakes and Cupcakes is one of my favorites. It’s absolutely creamy and dreamy and quite a bit less sweet than most Cream Cheese Frostings. It’s a bit richer than most cream cheese frostings and not as cloying.
While the absolute creaminess (and not too sweet flavor) makes this a great topping or frosting for cakes and cupcakes, the downside is that because it doesn’t have a ton of powdered sugar, this Cream Cheese Frosting is not as “stiff” as many recipes. I don’t usually use this one when making layered cakes that rely on a cream cheese filling to hold the layers together, especially in warm weather!
About Cream Cheese Frosting for Topping Cakes:
This recipe makes the absolute perfect amount for topping my Banana Sheet Cake and I use it all the time for that cake. It is the “just right” ratio of cake to frosting on any sheet cake. As far as taste, it reminds me of the Sarah Lee frosting on their banana cake. I haven’t seen those around for ages, but then I usually make my own cakes, but who doesn’t remember their jingle, “Nobody doesn’t like Sarah Lee.”
This Cream Cheese Frosting for Topping Cakes doesn’t pipe quite as beautifully as a stiffer frosting, either. If you want to pipe on cupcakes, check out my Mom’s Cream Cheese Frosting. What this recipe works great for, though, is a lovely swirl on a cupcake. It’s just the right touch for a casual get together, maybe a picnic or to take to a potluck.
Making Cream Cheese Frosting for Topping Cakes:
Originally this recipe for Cream Cheese Frosting for Topping Cakes or Cupcakes came from the wonderful Ina Garten. I searched up this recipe when my daughter complained the cream cheese frosting on my Mother’s carrot cake was just too sweet. This recipe has about 1/4 less sugar than your standard cream cheese frostings. I thought it was worth reposting here with a few more instructions and some clarification as I could see that there were a lot of complaints on the Food Network site.
This is very buttery but mixed correctly it won’t taste buttery or oily. Face it, if you have a recipe with three major ingredients like cream cheese frosting, cream cheese, butter, and powdered sugar, you have to have the volume from somewhere. Recipes will generally lean towards more butter or more sugar, and this leans towards the butter side.
And while this cream cheese frosting is absolutely simple perfection, the butter has got to be at the right temperature. You should be able to pick up your stick of butter should keep it’s shape, without blowing out, when bent. If the butter is too warm, the frosting will taste oily. If the butter is not warm enough, the frosting will leave little unmixed (even if it’s not visible to the eye) bits of butter that will make the frosting taste “buttery.”
Saving Money on Cream Cheese Frosting for Topping Cakes:
Shop well for your cream cheese, watching holiday sales when it’s often half price or pick it up at Aldi or Costco. Cream Cheese has an incredibly long shelf life, even after the “buy date” on the package. It can be frozen but because the shelf life is so long, I don’t generally do that.
Butter, though, I do freeze. It keeps well for months in the freezer, especially in the original packaging. I follow the exact same strategies for butter as I do for cream cheese but I do really stock up on it. When a holiday rolls around with great pricing, I will literally count out the weeks until the next holiday, buying enough to last.
As far a powdered sugar, in a pinch an amount can be made in the food processor. I don’t do that for recipes like this; it would take forever and not be consistent. Doing that can also pit your food processor. I tend to buy any baking goods during the winter holidays, Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years or during the Easter holiday, when most baking goods are going to be at an absolute low. I package my powdered sugar up in a Ziploc after I open it so it remains lump free.
Cream Cheese Frosting
- 8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
- 12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 3 1/2 cups sifted confectioners’ sugar (3/4 pound)
Place the cream cheese, butter, and vanilla in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, and mix on medium speed just until combined. Don’t whip! Add the sugar and mix until smooth.
Critical things to know:
- The butter and cream cheese absolutely have to be at a good room temperature, which means plan ahead and set out overnight, if possible. The butter should be able to be picked up and still hold its form but be able to bend without cracking.
- If the butter is too warm, the frosting will taste oily. If the butter is not warm enough, the frosting will leave little unmixed (even if it’s not visible to the eye) bits of butter that will make the frosting taste “buttery.”
- If your house isn’t warm enough (or too warm) you’ll want to fudge the temperature of the butter and cream cheese. Between 70 to 75 degrees usually works well for me. Try to place the butter and cream cheese in a warmer or cooler place in the house. Both can be microwaved on defrost for a few seconds at a time to slightly warm, turning often.
- When mixing, don’t whip, but do mix long enough to fully incorporate the butter and cream cheese before adding the sugar. It needs to be well mixed.
- Frost right away – the icing will set up a bit with time (which is a good thing) and be harder to work with.
from the kitchen of www.frugalhausfrau.com, adapted from Ina Garten