Thursday, March 19, 2015

Cream Cheese Buttercream

I made a pumpkin cake (using this recipe) with this cream cheese buttercream for my teammate's birthday a few weeks back.

It was almost a disaster.

I had planned on making a simple powdered sugar cream cheese frosting, but as I've said before, the powdered sugar here is just terrible.  I should have known better.  The frosting was way too sweet to use on a whole cake and gritty and blah. I used a little of it for the middle filling, but then moved on to something else.

I found a recipe online for cream cheese buttercream, but got impatient and didn't let the cooked mixture cool enough.  Attempt #2, fail.

After reading some comments online and finding another recipe, I attempted this THIRD frosting.  Talk about wasted butter. Ugh. Well, after working my way through the recipe, I thought this one was going to be pretty ho-hum.  The texture was weird, but it tasted fine and seemed firm enough to hold up on a cake.  I actually spread it on the cake and resigned myself to an end product that wasn't pretty, but would taste okay.  It would just have to do.  While I was frosting the cake I left the leftover buttercream running in the stand mixture.  I was curious to see if it would get any better, texture-wise. And, LO AND BEHOLD, it finally came together!! Hallelujah.  I was so relieved that I actually removed the buttercream from the cake, re-whipped it until it smoothed out and frosted the cake over again. In the end, it turned out lovely and delicious.

And, it is really good and less time-intensive than most buttercreams I've tried.  The cream cheese flavor is subtle and the texture gloriously smooth.

So, the moral of the story is this: when making buttercream, do not give up.  Keep beating it.  It will come around. Eventually.


  • 4 large egg whites
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla
  • 22 ounces unsalted butter, room temperature, cut into small pieces
  • 12 ounces cream cheese, room temperature, cut into small pieces

In a double boiler, whisk together egg whites and sugar.  Heat until the sugar is dissolved and the mixture is warm (about 140 F), whisking frequently (about 3-5 minutes).

Transfer the egg white/sugar mixture to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment.

Add the salt and beat on high speed until the mixture is thick and glossy (about 5-7 minutes).

Beat in the extract.

Then gradually add the butter and cream cheese piece by piece while beating; stop beating when the buttercream is thick and smooth.

This is the part where you might need to persevere.  Follow these tips and you should be successful:

  • Scrape the bowl down frequently. 
  • Let each piece of butter or cream cheese incorporate fully before adding more.  
  • Let the buttercream beat for a long time.  If it looks grainy or too wet, keep going.  
  • If it is still not coming together, put the bowl in the refrigerator for 20 minutes and then continue beating it. 
Seriously, I thought my buttercream was a goner, but it just needed more time. When it is finished it will be smooth, glossy, and fluffy.

Source: An Edible Mosaic

Thursday, March 5, 2015


I currently live in the land of hummus. It's a pretty regular part of the diet in these parts so I haven't really felt a need to make my own, especially since I've tried to make it in the past unsuccessfully.  However, I was at book club a while back at my friend Kelly's house and she served this delicious homemade hummus.  I couldn't get enough.  I raved about it so much that she brought me the leftovers.  The texture is fantastic and it has a nice balance of lemon and garlic.  You can play with the ingredients to get the texture and flavor you like.

  • 2 cans (15 ounces) chickpeas
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1/3 cup tahini, stirred well
  • 1/3 cup olive oil

Place chickpeas, garlic, and Kosher salt in the bowl of a food processor and process for a minute or so.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl.  

Add the lemon juice, water, and tahini while the food processor is running.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl again.  

Add the olive oil with the food processor running and process until the hummus is a desired consistency.