Don’t stress out if your cream cheese and butter aren’t at room temperature. All is not lost. It’s a little easier to make this frosting with softened cream cheese and butter but if you forgot to soften them, go ahead and proceed, just beat a little longer to achieve a smooth consistency before adding the confectioners’ sugar. One more word of caution: Be sure not to add to much milk. It’s much easier to make this frosting thinner by adding a titch more milk, but if you add too much milk then it takes a lot of sugar to thicken the frosting back up, not to mention how the excess sugar deadens the flavor of the cream cheese. OK, finally, the split vanilla bean is completely optional. I like to add the vanilla bean flecks when I have one on hand to make the frosting look like fresh vanilla bean ice cream.
One 8-ounce package regular or low-fat cream cheese, room temperature
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) butter, room temperature
4 cups confectioners’ sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 vanilla bean, split in half lengthwise, optional
about 2 tablespoons milk
Place cream cheese and butter in a mixing bowl. Beat about 3 minutes with an electric mixer until fluffy. Stop the mixer and pour in the sugar and vanilla. If using, scrape the vanilla specks out of the bean with the edge of a small paring knife and add to the cream cheese and butter, too. On low speed, beat in the sugar and vanilla. Turn mixer to medium-high and continue to beat until smooth. With the mixer running, gradually add 1 tablespoon of milk and beat well. If too thick to spread, gradually add more milk as needed until soft and more spreadable. The test for frosting is it shouldn’t pull the top layer off the cake when spreading. That’s a total bummer.
Makes enough for one 13 x 9-inch cake