A few weeks ago I discovered there’s a difference between American buttercream frosting and, seemingly, the rest of the world. After I made my first French buttercream frosting, I knew I couldn’t go back to the powdered sugar-based American kind. Not ever again.
That’s good news for my blog. It means I’ll continue to be able post new frosting blogs in the future. After deciding to make a carrot cake for a birthday/potluck this week for work, I knew I would have to make a cream cheese frosting. I’m so not a fan of cream cheese frosting, but certain cakes require cream cheese frosting. And carrot cake is one of them. I figured if I made a fancy cream cheese frosting, like the one listed below, that the result would be way more palatable than the cream cheese frostings I’m used to.
I was right. This is just enough cream cheese to give it a hint of cream cheese flavor while retaining that silky buttercream texture.
This recipe makes just enough frosting to frost a three-layer 8-inch cake.
- 3 egg whites
- 3/4 c. white sugar
- 1 1/2 c. butter
- 12 oz. cream cheese, room temperature
- dash of vanilla
- In a heat-proof electric mixer bowl combine sugar and egg whites. Place the bowl over a pot of simmering water and heat, whisking frequently, until the sugar is completely dissolved and the mixture is hot to the touch, 160˚F.
- Remove the bowl from the stove and attach it to the base of your mixer. Beat the mixture with the whisk attachment on high until you get a stiff-peaked meringue and the meringue has cooled to room temperature or as close to room temperature as possible.
- While the meringue is mixing, cut the butter into eight pieces per stick (I cut the pieces into tablespoon increments) and let it come to room temperature while the meringue whips. (Alternatively, you can precut your butter and bring it to room temperature and then let it chill for a bit while you start to make this frosting. But once you start whipping the meringue, you should bring it out to bring it to room temperature.) However, don’t worry if your butter is a little bit cold yet and not completely room temperature. I still managed to get the desire consistency and my butter was not quite room temperature and actually a bit stiff.
- Add the butter, one piece at a time, to the meringue, while beating on high speed. If the meringue falls or starts to look curdled or liquidy, keep adding the butter and beating. The frosting should come together into a thick frosting. (This happened to me the first time I made a Swiss Meringue Buttercream.) Scrape the frosting into a different bowl and set aside.
- In the mixer bowl, whip the cream cheese until very light and fluffy. This shouldn’t take too long since your cream cheese is room temperature.
- Add the meringue mixture to the cream cheese mixture one spoonful at a time, stirring on medium-low speed. Increase the speed to medium-high and beat until the frosting is a stiff whipped cream-like texture. (It will not be quite as stiff as it was before you added the cream cheese – at least mine wasn’t.) Then add the vanilla. Frosting immediately, or chill it to firm up. (I chilled it slightly to firm it up before frosting.)
While the carrot cake was very, very good, this frosting got more attention than the cake. This is how I know this frosting will be used again. And again. And again.
This recipe is pretty intense, especially if you have little culinary experience. If you feel like you have the culinary chops to try it, it’s worth the extra effort to make it at least once.