Adding cream cheese to a powdered sugar frosting produces a not-too-sweet frosting that has a pleasant cream cheese flavor. It is soft, but it is firm enough to hold a shape and a good choice for piping designs and shapes on top of cupcakes. The basic vanilla-flavored frosting takes well to other flavors, including cinnamon, lemon or orange zest, or white chocolate. (See the individual cupcake recipes for exact measurements.)
This frosting is easiest to use when freshly made, but it can be stored in the refrigerator for 2 days, then brought to room temperature and beaten with an electric mixer until fluffy again.
Yield: Makes 3 cups
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
6 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 cups powdered sugar
In a large bowl, using an electric mixer on low speed, beat the butter, cream cheese, and vanilla until smooth and thoroughly blended, about 1 minute. Stop the mixer and scrape the sides of the bowl as needed during mixing.
Add the powdered sugar, mixing until smooth, about 1 minute, then beat on medium speed for 1 minute to lighten the frosting further. The frosting is ready to use, or for flavor additions.