Secrets to Great Cream Cheese Frosting


Let's face it. Part of the allure of red velvet cupcakes is its creamy, silky, tangy cream cheese frosting! It is part and parcel of what makes red velvet cakes, carrot cakes, pumpkin cakes, and hummingbird cakes delicious. However, putting a great cream cheese frosting together can be a little bit tricky.  Often times, cream cheese frosting can end up being too heavy and runny. What are the secrets to whipping up an impressive cream cheese frosting? We have a few tips: 


1 Make sure that your cream cheese is at room temperature.

Because it has relatively high fat milk content, cold cream cheese is dense and can be hard to break down for a frosting. To ensure a lump-free, smooth, and silky mixture, keep your cream cheese out on your counter while your cake is in the oven.  By the time your cake is done baking and cooling, the temperature of your cream cheese will definitely be frosting-friendly.



2 Sift your powdered sugar.

Like any dry ingredient that is used for baking purposes, powdered sugar must be sifted prior to being measured out - this ingredient is especially lumpy! If your recipe calls for 1 cup of powdered sugar, avoid immediately sifting this cup into your frosting mixture. For an accurate measure, it is best to sift 1 cup of sugar into a separate bowl and measuring 1 cup from the sifted sugar.  


3 Use cold heavy whipping cream as an alternative to butter.

Butter can weigh down your cream cheese frosting and make it runny. To make a sturdy frosting that holds well together when piped out, try swapping out your butter with heavy whipping cream (also known as double cream). Beat in your cold heavy cream with your cream cheese and sugar mixture at medium-high speed to get those whipped, stiff peaks.  Remember to use heavy cream with a milk fat content not lower than 35%. Single cream and all-purpose cream, which may be the types of creams that you are more familiar with, do not have a high enough milk fat content to be able to whip frosting into a sturdy one.  

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4 Flavor with vanilla, salt, and citrus zest. 

Although delicious on its own, the flavor of cream cheese can shine with the help of the right amount of seasoning. A pinch of salt and a dash of vanilla will bring out the tangy and sweet flavors of cream cheese. If you're feeling adventurous, add a teaspoon of citrus zest for an aromatic kick! Lemon, orange, and pink grapefruit zests are great with this frosting. 


Here's a cream cheese frosting recipe you can try: 

2 packages (8-ounce) cream cheese
1 cup powdered sugar, sifted
2 teaspoon vanilla
pinch of salt, to taste
2/3 cup cold heavy whipping cream (at least 35% fat content)
1 teaspoon citrus zest

1 With an electric hand mixer, beat cream cheese until smooth.  Add vanilla, salt, and powdered sugar, and beat on low speed until smooth. 


2 Put your mixer on medium-high speed and slowly pour in cold heavy whipping cream in a stream and whip until light and fluffy, and until frosting forms stiff peaks. You may add more sugar or cream to get the consistency that you want. 



3 With a spatula, gently fold in citrus zest. If not using, store frosting in the refrigerator for up to 2 days. When you're ready to use, whip the frosting with an additional tablespoon of whipping cream.





Image from Wikimedia

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