Cream cheese frosting is a funny thing. People like it how they like it. So even though I already have a couple of Cream Cheese Frostings on my site, on this post for The Wayfair Inn Carrot Cake and a post Cream Cheese Frosting for Topping Cakes & Cupcakes. Here’s another one. This is my Mom’s Cream Cheese Frosting. I used it today for my Easy Pumpkin Spice Sheet Cake.
Cream Cheese Frosting can be so many things. It can be light as air and almost frothy, heavy and dense or anything in between. The cream cheese flavor can be very dominant in some recipes or just barely there. The frosting might be very sweet or just lightly so. Sometimes, how you make your Cream Cheese Frosting just depends on what you’re making and your own personal taste.
About Mom’s Cream Cheese Frosting:
My Mom’s Cream Cheese frosting is the perfect frosting to use on a layer cake. This is the frosting she’d make when she’d make her layered Carrot Cake (The Wayside Inn Carrot Cake is my StepMom, Pat’s cake. I haven’t ever posted my Mom’s, which she started making way back in the 60’s, bless her soul. I’ll make it soon, Mom.) My Mom’s Carrot Cake is a heavy, rich, moist Carrot Cake and this Cream Cheese frosting is one that will stand up to the weight of that layered cake. My Mom’s Cream Cheese Frosting is also the perfect amount to get a good amount of frosting on my Easy Pumpkin Spice Sheet Cake. So the amount works well for an 8″ two layer or cake made in a pyrex/casserole type of a pan (like a 9 x 13″) or a sheet cake. Note that the amount of frosting made with this recipe on the 8″ layer cake or the sheet cake is a little modest by today’s over the top standards.
Mom’s Cream Cheese Frosting is thick and dense and on the sweet side and is just a touch lighter in the Cream Cheese flavor than some, which is perfect for a carrot or a spice cake. The cream cheese flavor blends beautifully without being overtly “cream cheesy.” It’s not going to dominate the flavors of your cake. It really is a beautiful thing…
I like that Mom’s Cream Cheese Frosting spreads beautifully, will nicely hold swirls or waves if you wish, or smooths just like buttercream if you’re looking to frost a cake cleanly. Which I usually never do – that takes more work and precision than I’m normally going to put out, lol! (The one exception on my site is my Cafe Latte’s Tres Leches Cake.) I am no cake decorator! But if you are looking for a Cream Cheese Frosting that will let you smooth the sides, and maybe decorate with chopped nuts halfway up, this is that frosting. My Mom’s Cream Cheese Frosting pipes beautifully, too! Just don’t keep your beautiful creation where it’s hot – any cream cheese frosting can soften under hot temperatures.
Making Mom’s Cream Cheese Frosting:
Any Cream Cheese Frosting is just a cinch to make, and most have only four ingredients. There’s butter, cream cheese, powdered sugar, and vanilla. A few might have a little milk or cream blended in to lighten them, but that’s not generally the standard, and sometimes you’ll see a touch of salt. Every now and then, especially if Cream Cheese Frosting is going to be piped, you might see a tablespoon or two of cornstarch added. You can pipe this Cream Cheese Frosting as is, but it never hurts to add that tablespoon or so of cornstarch for a little extra insurance! Just toss it right in with the powdered sugar.
But like most simple things, you’ve got to be spot on to get any cream cheese frosting to come out beautifully. The most important thing to know is that the ingredients have to be at room temperature and that’s around 70 degrees F. The butter should be able to bend without breaking and will hold an indent if you press a finger into it and the cream cheese should be room temperature all the way through. I like to take my butter and cream cheese out the night before and set them somewhere that the temperature will be just right. If you have to, use your microwave on five-second intervals. Then whip the butter and the cream cheese together – for longer than you think you should, until it’s as light and fluffy as possible.
The other thing is to be careful with your powdered sugar. I usually sift mine unless I’m opening up a fresh bag and especially if I’m going to do anything decorative with it, like pipe. I add the powdered sugar into the whipped butter/cream cheese in several additions, beating on low until it’s just about incorporated, then bringing the speed of the mixer up slowly, and stopping to scrape down between each addition of sugar. Before the last addition, I add the vanilla, then the sugar because I think the little bit of extra moister helps the sugar absorb. Easy peasy!
Saving Money on Mom’s Cream Cheese Frosting:
Now is the best time of year, through New Years, to start watching for specials (and lots of coupons if you use them) for just about any baking items. Figure out what you need and pick up enough to last through Easter. Just about every baking item you can think of will be very competitively priced.
I buy lots of butter and chuck it in the freezer and I also buy a lot of cream cheese, which is usually good for months. I normally don’t freeze my cream cheese, but you can….it’s going to be fine to use in recipes. Thaw out overnight in the refrigerator.
Mom's Cream Cheese Frosting
- 1 stick of butter at room temperature
- 1 8-ounce package cream cheese at room temperature
- 4 cups (1 pound) powdered sugar, preferably sifted
- 1 tablespoon vanilla
In a large bowl if using a handheld mixer or in your mixing bowl, if you’re using a stand mixer, beat together butter and cream cheese until lightened in color and fluffy.
Add cream cheese in three additions, starting the mixing on the lowest speed and increasing speed until well incorporated. Scrape down sides before each addition. Before the last addition, add the vanilla, beat in well, then the remainder of the powdered sugar.
Frost or ice with the cream cheese frosting immediately. It will stiffen as it sits. If decorating with nuts, sprinkles, etc., decorate before the frosting sets up.
recipe from Catherine Barlow