‘Tis the season for cream cheese frosting! No, scratch that. Cream cheese frosting is in season all year ’round. However, once we begin donning our sweaters and coats as the holiday season goes into full swing, so too begins the season of never ending, delicious baked goods fresh from our piping hot ovens that we devour without abandon until the dawn of New Year’s Day. Who hasn’t salivated over a cream cheese stuffed pumpkin muffin or a wonderfully spicy slice of gingerbread loaf topped with cream cheese frosting? Not to mention perennial favorites also slathered in tangy cream cheese deliciousness, such as Red Velvet, Carrot, and (one of my favorites) Hummingbird cake. Yes, let the baking bonanza begin!
The very first frosting I ever made from scratch was cream cheese frosting. You’ve heard me tell you before how, growing up, food came out of a box, can, or jar. Imagine my surprise as I watched a bar of softened cream cheese and a bag of powdered sugar whip up into a creamy, rich frosting for our (box mix) Christmas gingerbread loaf. My sister and I were totally fascinated. Now that I think about it, that was probably that point when I was bitten by the cooking bug. No longer would frozen chicken nuggets, mashed potatoes from a box…or a tub of frosting…suffice.
Since that long ago Christmas, I’ve come to desire more than just the taste of sugar. I think that just happens as you grow older (For example, I can’t bare the sweetness of milk chocolate anymore. It literally hurts my teeth lol). You may have noticed from some of my cupcake posts that I shy away from American style buttercream, which is based on powdered sugar for structure. Instead, I often go for Italian or Swiss style buttercream, which utilize meringued egg whites and less sugar. Oh, the lovely layers of flavor! That’s why when I came across cooked cream cheese frosting in my research for a cupcake inspired by an experience at my grandmother’s grave site (not as morbid as it sounds, I promise) I had to share it with you all.
If you are a cream cheese frosting fan, I promise you will adore the frosting you get out of this technique. It preserves so much more of that distinctive tangy flavor, plus that luscious creaminess. Excited yet? I hope so!
Happy holidays, everyone!
Cooked Cream Cheese Frosting
- 16 ounces cream cheese at room temperature
- 1/4 cup all purpose flour
- 1 cup sugar
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch
- pinch of salt
- 1 cup milk
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) of butter, room temperature
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- optional: 1/4 cup powdered sugar
- In a medium saucepan, whisk to combine the flour, sugar, cornstarch, and salt.
- Whisk milk into the flour mixture.
- Place saucepan over medium heat. Continue to whisk flour mixture to create a smooth paste.
- Bring flour mixture to a gentle simmer. Continue stirring. Allow to cook until a thick, sticky pudding like consistency is met. Do not leave the stove during this time; the sugar will quickly burn. (Lesson learned: a little caramelization is salvageable).
- Scrape flour mixture into the bowl of a stand mixer, or into a large bowl if using a hand mixer.
- Whip on high for about 10 minutes or until the cooked flour mixture has cooled. (Warning: if the flour mixture is too warm, the final frosting may turn out too soft to hold its shape. Read about the Battle of Buttercream Hill here.)
- Lower mixer speed to medium high and add vanilla extract.
- Add butter, whipping until incorporated.
- Whip in the softened cream cheese one bar at a time.
- Return mixer speed to high and whip frosting until thick and fluffy. If frosting is too soft, add the optional 1/4 cup of powdered sugar to give the frosting more structure.
- Chill before use for easier work-ability. The frosting will keep its shape at room temperature, but its definitely more messy to work with!