Thursday, May 3, 2018

Cream Cheese Buttercream Frosting

This is hands-down my favourite vanilla frosting recipe - it is decadently butter-rich, not too sweet and is stable enough to stand out at a party for a few hours without melting. My picky sister gave it her seal of approval too!

Red Velvet Birthday Cake

While I'm no professional, making cakes is something I really enjoy doing. The cake recipe itself is probably the most nervewracking part of the experience, since without a well-done (and tasty) base, no amount of frosting or chocolate in the world is making that dessert a hit. Case in point: this year my mom asked for red velvet cake, one of her (and my) favourites. I had a few recipes in my arsenal, but I wasn't 100% happy with them, especially since I knew they'd have to stand up to a fairly hefty frosting a long decorating process. I turned instead to a recipe I had bookmarked for a while - Alton Brown's, which stated it made 3 layers (precisely what I needed). Imagine my surprise when the batter barely made one layer, was definitely not the red shown on the TV or online, and while it was tasty in its own right, it was not red velvet. I couldn't bear to throw it out, so that dense, super-moist layer became the bottom of my stack while a half-batch of the Waldorf Astoria recipe perched on top. 

Red Velvet Birthday Cake

Since the cake was not going to be my crowning achievement this year, I set about making a killer frosting. I knew I wanted to make a cream cheese style frosting (cream cheese frosting is my favourite) but I also knew it couldn't be one that screamed cream cheese, since the crowd is a divided group on the subject. The one person I didn't even try to impress was my sister - she is traditionally a canned chocolate frosting-or-die girl, and has the palate of a well trained connoisseur when it comes to tasting "anomalies" in her food. 

With my parameters set, I started modifying my go-to cream cheese frosting, adding more (and better quality) butter and less cream cheese until I had something undeniably rich and decadent with enough tang to offset the sweetness of the cake without giving away the cream cheese. It spread beautifully at room temperature and set well in the fridge without becoming rock hard, and even avoided the super-saccharine flavour of most decorating frostings when I stiffened it with extra icing sugar. I tinted it dark red for the lettering and Russian tip flowers and the colour stayed true. The flavour was incomparable though - to the extent that my sister complimented it, and asked for me to make it again for her birthday cake! If that's not prime testimony, I don't know what is.

As for the rest of the decorations, I guess you can say I was in a "Beauty and the Beast" frame of mind (one of our classes is doing the play this year and I'm immersed in the song and dance a lot). I decided on a "mirror" theme with silver spray for the "glass" and dark chocolate filigree with gold flecks for the "frame". The final touch was a chocolate line-work rose. Delicate, delicious, and chocolate... all the chocolate!

Red Velvet Birthday Cake

Do you make birthday cakes at home? What's your favourite recipe?

Cream Cheese Buttercream Frosting
Makes enough to fill and lightly frost a 9" 2-layer cake, 16 servings
8 oz (1 cup) high-fat, European style unsalted butter (cultured if you can get it)
4 oz (1/2 cup) cream cheese
½ tsp salt
1 tbsp vanilla extract (use clear to keep frosting white)
4 cups icing sugar
3-4 Tbsp milk or cream, if needed (I use cream)
  1. Beat butter, cream cheese, salt and vanilla until the mixture is soft and fluffy.
  2. Slowly sift in the powdered sugar while mixing. 
  3. If frosting is too firm, add cream, one tablespoon at a time, until the desired consistency is reached.
Amount Per Serving
Calories: 261.2
Total Fat: 15.6 g
Cholesterol: 36.8 mg
Sodium: 22.8 mg
Total Carbs: 30.3 g
Dietary Fiber: 0.0 g
Protein: 0.6 g