Everyone needs a killer cream cheese frosting.
When I was a kid our typical after school snack consisted of homemade vanilla frosting sandwiched between two graham crackers. My Mom has a weakness for anything vanilla so we ate it all of the time. She never used canned frosting but made it with sweet cream butter, powdered sugar and a touch of milk.
Since my husband doesn't like cloyingly sweet frosting, I set out to create a balanced buttercream. I played around with all sorts of combinations and found the balance of sweet cream butter, tangy cream cheese, powdered sugar and real legit vanilla beans was the ticket to perfect vanilla bean cream cheese frosting.
Vanilla beans can be pricey so we use them for only special occasions. I tend to use real vanilla bean pods in homemade custard, ice cream and frosting since the vanilla flavor is of highest importance. I found my Rodelle Vanilla Beans in a glass vial at Costco. I have also experimented with all types of pure vanilla extracts over the years. Here are a few of my favorite vanillas that I can wholeheartedly recommend:
- Nielsen-Massey Pure Vanilla Bean Paste
- Gourmet Madagascar Vanilla Beans
- Mexican Vanilla Blend By Molina
- Blue Cattle Truck Trading Original Mexican Vanilla Extract
- Nielsen-Massey Vanilla Madagascar Vanilla Extract
Nielsen Massey is a highly regarded company and is known for their quality extracts. They are a tad more expensive so I use them in the desserts that really count.
I am also a sucker for the Mexican vanilla flavor and it's definitely a real value. When I held a kid's summer cooking school one year, I taught them all about vanilla. I opened up my baking center and pulled out 4 different kinds of vanilla. They smelled each one and every single one of the kids (about 40) chose the Mexican vanilla. It just smells so good!
When I went on a cruise with my mother-in-law and five sister-in-laws last month, we stopped in Cozumel Mexico. I literally came home with three large 32-ounce bottles of legit Mexican vanilla. The struggle was trying to stuff them in my checked-in suitcase! Of course, it was well worth the struggle. I soon realized that I could buy the exact same stuff on Amazon.com. Haha!
Let's get back to this creamy vanilla bean cream cheese frosting. It starts off with softened sweet cream butter that is whipped with cream cheese until light and fluffy. Powdered sugar is added until desired thickness and sweetness. My recipe calls for 3 cups but if you want a stiffer frosting, feel free to add an additional ½ cup of powdered sugar.
To create this vanilla bean cream cheese frosting, you can use any type of vanilla from pure vanilla beans, vanilla bean paste, or pure vanilla extract. If you use pure vanilla beans, save the pod and place it in a jar with granulated sugar. It creates the most wonderful vanilla bean sugar to be used in custards or ice creams. It is downright heavenly!
This perfect vanilla cream cheese frosting can be used on top of red velvet cake, carrot cake, vanilla cake, sugar cookies, red velvet sugaar cookie bars, cupcakes, and even in between graham crackers. As my 8 year old daughter puts it, "this frosting is the best thing ever." This is the precise reason that she has been in the dentist chair more than all of my kids combined.