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Reduced-Fat Cream Cheese Icing Recipe (That Tastes Amazing)

Maria is a master gardener and master of public health. She & her husband, known online as The Gardener & The Cook, live in coastal Alabama.

The peaks are made by tapping lightly with a small spatula.

The peaks are made by tapping lightly with a small spatula.

A Lot of Tweaking Led to a Fabulous Recipe

This is the icing I use on my red velvet cake. It is also another one of my converted recipes where I have taken an old favorite and reduced the fat and/or sugar. After I did a lot of tweaking the recipe, we both decided this is the best cream cheese icing we have ever tasted.

I knew I had to make some changes, so I replaced the regular cream cheese with reduced-fat cream cheese. I also switched to unsalted butter. In fact, we now use only unsalted butter. Doing this cut out a lot of the fat and sodium from the frosting, but not all of it. Everyone is truly amazed when I reveal that the cream cheese is reduced-fat — of course, I didn't tell them until after they had tasted it. They said they never would have believed it would taste the same. I rest my case.

Ingredients

  • 1 stick unsalted butter (softened)
  • 1 (8-oz.) package reduced-fat cream cheese (softened)
  • 1 (16-oz.) package powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped pecans (optional)

Instructions

  1. In an electric mixer, cream together the butter and cream cheese.
  2. Gradually add powdered sugar, and blend until smooth.
  3. Add vanilla.
  4. Add chopped pecans, if desired.
  5. Mixture should be slightly stiff. Chill if it is too soft.
  6. Spread over your favorite cake or cupcakes.
Smoothed icing can be left as it is, or be decorated with chopped pecans either on top, on the sides, or both.

Smoothed icing can be left as it is, or be decorated with chopped pecans either on top, on the sides, or both.

Pro Tips

  • I like to cut the butter into small chunks, as this allows it to soften faster. The cream cheese is softer to begin with, but I often cut it into chunks, too. I believe it helps the two ingredients to blend together easier and faster.
  • Cakes are easier to ice if they have been frozen or chilled first. This prevents them from melting the icing while you are working with it.
  • To prevent cake crumbs from migrating into your icing, first remove loose crumbs by gently brushing the cake with a pastry brush. Next, spread a thin layer of icing on your cake top. Then allow it to dry before completing the task of icing the cake.
  • Not exactly a tip, but something I learned from my dad: insert a knife straight down into the top layer of the cake. Lean the knife slightly to one side, and pour icing down into the opening. That is, if you're like me, and like a little cake with your icing.

This Is a Dairy Product, Therefore...

The finished cake will need to be kept in the refrigerator, because cream cheese icing is a real dairy product that will spoil if left out for more than a few hours.

Thick Icing v. Thinner Icing

This thicker icing is definitely the type you will need if you want to use it on cupcakes. Below is a photo of the thicker version on cupcakes that I sometimes serve at Christmas.

Cupcakes need stiffer icing

Cupcakes need stiffer icing

What to Do When There's Not Enough Icing

One Christmas, I somehow managed not to make enough icing — or maybe I put too much between the layers. I had no choice but to leave the sides without icing. It actually made a very pretty cake, as you could see the red layers — it looked very Christmasy. I think I may do that more often.

Another beautiful way would be to slice the layers in half crosswise, so that you have four thin layers. It is very pretty but requires more icing. It is liked best by people who want a little cake with their icing. Either way, it is a fabulous topping for your cakes. I haven't tried making it with the four thin layers yet, but I think I will next time I make this cake. Stay tuned for the photo.

Exposed layers make for a pretty cake, but it is at risk of drying out sooner, so keep it covered. Here it is still on the lazy-susan-type decorating stand.

Exposed layers make for a pretty cake, but it is at risk of drying out sooner, so keep it covered. Here it is still on the lazy-susan-type decorating stand.

Your Comments Are Always Welcome

MariaMontgomery (author) from Coastal Alabama, USA on June 22, 2021:

You're very welcome. Thanks so much for reading my new article. Stay tuned for lots more yummy recipes.

Thelma Alberts from Germany on June 22, 2021:

This is a delicious creamy icing to try. Thank you for sharing.

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