Brown Sugar Cream Cheese Frosting

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This Brown-Sugar Cream-Cheese Frosting is so silky smooth with a rich taste, it’s the perfect topping for your favorite baked desserts (or eat it on its own… I won’t tell!)

Brown Sugar Cream Cheese Frosting featured image top shot

There are two sides to baked goods: the part you bake (i.e., the cake) and the part you whip (i.e., the topping). Both are integral, but my favorite part is the topping. It’s like the tiara that sits atop the well-coiffed hair. Sure, the hair looks nice, it took a lot of time, and it takes up a lot of real estate up there on your head, but that tiara is the bling that catches everyone’s eyes. TOTALLY the same thing with desserts.

My point is, the frosting is the fun part that gets all the compliments so you don’t want to mess it up. For me, it doesn’t get any tastier (or easier) than this Brown-Sugar Cream-Cheese Frosting. I apply it to my cakes, buns, loaves, breads—and when no one’s looking, directly onto my tongue.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup salted sweet cream butter, slightly softened
  • 8 oz. cream cheese, softened
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup light or dark brown sugar, lightly packed
  • 3 cups powdered sugar, sifted
Brown Sugar Cream Cheese Frosting ingredients top shot

How To Make Brown-Sugar Cream-Cheese Frosting

Step 1: Whisk the brown sugar so that it is free of lumps. Remove any hard bits that could disrupt the texture of your frosting. Then lightly pack the sugar.

Brown Sugar Cream Cheese Frosting steps

Step 2: In a mixing bowl, add the butter, cream cheese, vanilla extract, and the brown sugar.

Brown Sugar Cream Cheese Frosting steps

Step 3: Use a mixer on medium speed to blend the ingredients for at least 2 minutes. Aim for a smooth consistency where the brown sugar has dissolved, eliminating any graininess.

Brown Sugar Cream Cheese Frosting steps

Step 4: Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula to ensure all ingredients are incorporated evenly.

Brown Sugar Cream Cheese Frosting steps

Step 5: Gradually introduce the sifted powdered sugar to the mixture.

Brown Sugar Cream Cheese Frosting steps

Step 6: Start mixing on the lowest setting to prevent a powdered-sugar snowstorm. Once combined, increase the speed to medium-high and mix for another 30-45 seconds until the frosting is light and fluffy.

Brown Sugar Cream Cheese Frosting steps

Step 7: Taste the frosting and adjust the flavor or consistency as needed.

Brown Sugar Cream Cheese Frosting featured image top shot

Top Tips For Perfect Brown Sugar Cream Cheese Frosting

  • Use butter and cream cheese that have been left out at room temperature. It will be easier to mix with the other ingredients and make for a creamier frosting.
  • Don’t overmix. Once the desired consistency has been achieved, put the blender down. When dealing with cream cheese, you run risk of making it runny.
  • Use quality ingredients. The vanilla extract makes a huge difference to the taste of our frosting, so get a good one.
  • If your frosting is too thick, add milk, tablespoon by tablespoon, until it’s just as you like it.
  • If you find the frosting too sweet, add a dash of salt to take the sweetness down a notch.
Brown Sugar Cream Cheese Frosting featured image top shot

FAQs //

What’s the difference between light and dark brown sugar?

You have three options: You can use light sugar, which, on the sweetness scale, is rather mild; you can go for a darker brown sugar, which has a richer flavor, due in part to the molasses included; or you can mix the two.

Why is my frosting so gritty?

That “grit” is sugar that didn’t disintegrate, which results from a number of reasons. Be sure to sift your sugar, use room-temperature butter and cream cheese, use fresh brown sugar, add a bit of milk if it’s too thick, and don’t overmix.

Why is my frosting runny?

If it’s runny, don’t worry. You can either put it in the fridge for 30 minutes, where it will harden, or you can add a little more powdered sugar or a tablespoon of cornstarch.

Is frosting and icing the same thing?

Frosting and icing are different degrees of the same thing. Frosting is the thickest, as it uses as its base butter or cream cheese. Icing is thinner, thanks to the use of egg whites or cream. Icing also usually goes on thin then hardens over time.

Can I use this frosting in a piping bag?

Sure, though you may need to adjust the consistency depending on the size of the piping hole.

Brown Sugar Cream Cheese Frosting featured image top shot

Other Frostings To Try

Salted Caramel Frosting: I discovered the addictive combination of sweet ‘n’ salty much later in life than I should have. I eat this frosting to make up for lost time.

Marshmallow Buttercream Frosting: Do you love marshmallows? Do you think it’s an actual food? Then you’ll LOVE this frosting. It’s like eating delicious pillows.

Vanilla Bean Frosting: There’s something about vanilla that just soothes me—especially when it’s layered atop banana cake, as it is in this recipe.

Mexican Chocolate Cake with Mascarpone Frosting: This cinnamon mascarpone frosting is a dessert unto itself, but I’ve gone one step further and served it with my Mexican Chocolate Cake, a dessert that is both sweet and spicy.

How to Store Brown-Sugar Cream-Cheese Frosting

You should be able to store the frosting in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a week. If you made lots and want to keep it longer, you can freeze it for about a month. If frozen, the frosting will need time in the fridge to thaw out. As should always be the case when preserving foods with dairy, give it a sniff and throw it out if it seems off to you.

Brown Sugar Cream Cheese Frosting featured image top shot
Brown Sugar Cream Cheese Frosting featured image top shot

Brown Sugar Cream Cheese Frosting

This Brown-Sugar Cream-Cheese Frosting is so silky smooth with a rich taste, it's the perfect topping for your favorite baked desserts (or eat it on its own… I won't tell!)
No ratings yet
Prep Time 20 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes
Servings 24
Calories 161 kcal

Ingredients
  

  • 1/2 cup salted sweet cream butter slightly softened
  • 8 oz. cream cheese softened
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup brown sugar light or dark, lightly packed
  • 3 cups powdered sugar sifted

Instructions
 

  • Whisk the brown sugar so that it is free of lumps. Remove any hard bits that could disrupt the texture of your frosting. Then lightly pack the sugar.
  • In a mixing bowl, add the butter, cream cheese, vanilla extract, and the brown sugar.
  • Use a mixer on medium speed to blend the ingredients for at least 2 minutes. Aim for a smooth consistency where the brown sugar has dissolved.
  • Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula to ensure all ingredients are incorporated evenly.
  • Gradually introduce the sifted powdered sugar to the mixture.
  • Start mixing on the lowest setting to prevent a powdered sugar snowstorm. Once combined, increase the speed to medium-high and mix for another 30-45 seconds until the frosting is light and fluffy.
  • Taste the frosting and adjust the flavor or consistency as needed. If it's too thin, refrigerate for about an hour or add a little more powdered sugar or a tablespoon of cornstarch. That should help you achieve the desired thickness.

Notes

  • Use butter and cream cheese that have been left out at room temperature. It will be easier to mix with the other ingredients and make for a creamier frosting.
  • Don’t overmix. Once the desired consistency has been achieved, put the blender down. When dealing with cream cheese, you run risk of making it runny.
  • Use quality ingredients. The vanilla extract makes a huge difference to the taste of our frosting, so get a good one.

Nutrition

Calories: 161kcalCarbohydrates: 25gProtein: 1gFat: 7gSaturated Fat: 4gPolyunsaturated Fat: 0.3gMonounsaturated Fat: 2gTrans Fat: 0.2gCholesterol: 20mgSodium: 63mgPotassium: 27mgSugar: 24gVitamin A: 245IUCalcium: 18mgIron: 0.1mg
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