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

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