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Vanilla Bean Cream Cheese Frosting

Wow. Yum. Double yum.

I have to say I've outdone myself with this one.  I'm usually pretty modest about my cooking and baking.    Always my own worst critic, and that sort of thing.  With this frosting, though, I'm feeling a little proud.  Just a wee bit.

I was making some vanilla bean cupcakes and decided to change up my usual cream cheese frosting to put on top.  Normally, I whip together equal parts of butter and cream cheese and add just enough powdered sugar to make it slightly sweet.   This time, though, I wanted to tone down the cream cheese flavor just a bit so the vanilla could really be the star of the show.  Instead of throwing all the ingredients into the bowl at once, I decided to take a little more time and attention to detail.  After all, these were going to be birthday cupcakes for two special friends.  

The result?  Light, fluffy, creamy and perfectly delicious vanilla cream cheese frosting.  So good that, when a big dollop fell on my kitchen floor, I almost scooped it up and ate it....almost.

Here's the recipe...
Vanilla Bean Cream Cheese Frosting
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You'll need:

2 sticks unsalted butter @ room temperature*
1 1/2 8oz packages of cream cheese @ room temperature
seeds of 2 vanilla beans
1 tsp vanilla extract
powdered sugar, to taste (I use about 4 cups)

 It's really important that both the cream cheese and butter be at room temperature before starting. Otherwise, the frosting just won't come out the same ...and kittens will cry.  

Start by creaming the butter.  Place the butter in a large mixing bowl with the vanilla seeds and extract. Use an electric mixer or a stand mixer (my preference) and whip it at a medium-high speed for 1-2 minutes, or until it looks light and creamy.  Add the cream cheese in large chunks (about 3 oz at a time) and continue mixing at a medium-high speed for about 15 seconds between each addition.

Turn off the mixer and begin to add the powdered sugar.  I usually add it in about 1/4 cup amounts.  With the mixer off, I add a scoop of sugar, start the mixer on low speed (so I don't turn into a powdered mess) and then once the sugar is mostly incorporated, turn the speed up to medium high for about 5-10 seconds, until the sugar is fully incorporated.  I then turn off the mixer, add another scoop and continue to entire process until the frosting is just sweet enough.  Once all the sugar is added, I crank up the mixer and give it a final whip so that it's light and fluffy.

The frosting can be made up to a day in advance and stored in the refrigerator until you're ready to use it.*

Some tips for using this frosting:

With all the butter in this frosting it will melt easily in a warm place, so it's not a good choice if you're going to be serving it outdoors on a hot day.

*This frosting will pipe well.  If you make the frosting in advance and refrigerate it, make sure to allow it to come to room temperature before attempting to pipe it.  I made the mistake of waiting until the last minute to use it.  Consequently, the frosting struggled to make it through the tip and sputtered a bit onto the first cupcakes.  By the end of the batch, once it had warmed a bit, it was piping out nicely.  Lesson learned.
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  1. I *will* be making this! Savory Spice Shop has vanilla bean paste that I use to substitute for whole vanilla beans-- can't wait to try it with this!

  2. Great! I'm sure the vanilla bean paste will work just fine as a sub. I've always wanted to try it...