We just got back from Texas. From the hottest place on earth. From my brother’s wedding, where my sister and I made enough cake to feed 230 people. 230 people! We pulled it off. Just barely. With enough time to put on makeup, dresses, and knot our hair up in an up-do. We pulled it off mostly thanks to this sturdy cream cheese frosting recipe. It sounds like an oxymoron, I know. Sturdy and cream cheese frosting in the same sentence. But it’s real.
My now sister-in-law wanted Italian Cream for the bride’s cake and Red Velvet for the groom’s cake. I said yes, not knowing if I’d be able to find a stable cream cheese recipe. Cream cheese frosting is well known for its tendency to sag. But since the flavor of both cakes were highly dependent on the cream cheese, I had to find something. That, and staying in good graces with my brand new sister-in-law was supreme. So I scoured the internet and eventually landed on this recipe promising sturdiness. I skimmed every last review. There were 850 in total. One review, in particular, addressed some of the common issues of the recipe. I took a screenshot and tweaked the recipe slightly from there. It’s pure gold!
I’ve now made this recipe for sturdy cream cheese frosting well over 16 times in the last month. All kinks have been worked out, so much so that I’d like to say it’s fool-proof. Though, the humidity and heat can make a fool of us all. In the Texas heat, even in an air-conditioned kitchen, it took us twice as long to whip the heavy cream to sturdy, stiff peaks. Rather than giving exact beating times for this recipe, I’ve given visual cues, the same way I give driving directions.
Miraculously, this frosting is light yet sturdy and yields that classic cream cheese flavor you’d hope for. It’s not too sweet, but just right. Most importantly, it holds its shape for several days at room temperature. When decorating, it can be smoothed to a crisp, hold romantic swoops, or maintain piped swirls.
It’s real—a light yet sturdy cream cheese frosting that will hold its shape. Pipe it or pull it smooth. It can hold both without sagging.
2 c. heavy cream, chilled
1 c. powdered sugar
1 tsp. cream of tartar
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
8 oz. cream cheese, chilled
In a stand mixer with a completely cleaned bowl, add cream, powdered sugar, cream of tartar, and extract. Beat on high using the whisk attachment until stiff peaks form, as if you were making whipped cream. It should be stiff yet smooth. If you accidentally beat the cream too long to where it starts to curdle towards butter, add a tablespoon or so more of heavy cream to bring it back to the correct consistency. Slowly incorporate. Set aside.
In a separate bowl using a hand mixer, beat the chilled cream cheese until it’s a spreadable and creamy, about 2 minutes. Test spreadability by dragging a spatula through it.
Add cream cheese into the whipped cream mixture and beat at medium speed until completely smooth, still using the whisk attachment. Frosting will be light be very sturdy. Ice cooled cakes or cupcakes immediately.
Recipe yields enough to naked ice a 9-inch 2-tiered cake.