Cream Cheese Frosting
To have perfectly smooth cream cheese frosting with enough body to spread in dramatic swirls or even pipe through a pastry bag, you have to know these two secrets. First, overbeating breaks down the cream cheese, and produces grainy looking frosting that is too soft to hold a shape. Second, cold (not softened) cream cheese produces the best texture in both of our methods. Have the butter, if you use it, at the temperature recommended for the method you choose, and sift the powdered sugar after measuring.
- 8 ounces cream cheese
- 5 tablespoons unsalted butter (optional)
- 2 teaspoons vanilla
- 2 to 2 1/2 cups powdered sugar, sifted
- Grated lemon or orange zest, ground cinnamon, or liqueur of choice
- Food Processor Method
Have the cream cheese cold. The butter can be cold, but preferably at room temperature, 68 to 70 degrees F. Combine cream cheese, butter, vanilla and sugar in a food processor and pulse just until smooth and creamy. If the frosting is too stiff, pulse for a few seconds longer. Do not overprocess. If desired, stir in additional flavoring to taste.
Electric Mixer Method Have the cream cheese cold and the butter at room temperature. In a medium bowl, beat cream cheese, butter, and vanilla until blended. Add sugar one-third at a time and beat just until smooth and the desired consistency. If frosting is too stiff, beat for few seconds longer. Do not overbeat. If desired, stir in additional flavoring to taste.
This keeps, refrigerated, for about 1 week. Or freeze for up to 3 months. Soften and stir until smooth before using.