Rich and buttery, light and fluffy, all-natural and pretty in pink, this dreamy cheesecake-like buttercream frosting has a slight tang from the cream cheese and is flavored and sweetened just right. Also, it pipes beautifully. Quite simply, a baker’s dream come true!
Naturally Colored & Flavored Rich Buttercream:
Strawberry (or Cherry) Cream Cheese Buttercream
Today, I am sharing with you a fabulous variation of my recipe for Best Ever Cream Cheese Buttercream, Strawberry (or Cherry) Cream Cheese Buttercream. Just perfect for Valentine’s Day!
Magical. Pure magic is what immediately comes to mind when enhancing the flavor and color of buttercream frostings with all-natural dried fruit—that is, freeze-dried fruit. Think blackberries, blueberries, cranberries, raspberries and strawberries as well as cherries. Think mixed berries!
Freeze-dried fruit offers highly concentrated flavors due to the drying process in which all the moisture has been removed. What is left behind is natural color and flavor just begging to be used in recipes. Bonus: It can be done without artificial flavoring and coloring.
My first memories of freeze-dried strawberries are very fond. Very. As a young child, about kindergarten-aged, I was completely enamored with the freeze-dried strawberries found in my favorite breakfast cereal, Post® Corn Flakes & Strawberries, shown over at Mr. Breakfast. (Click through the slideshow to see what the cereal looked like outside of the box as well as the print ads.) I remember that beautiful pink box! And, I loved the flavor and sensation of the sliced freeze-dried strawberries when they kind of fizzled a little on my tongue as they started to rehydrate. And, the strawberries even turned my milk pink! What little girl doesn’t love that? I was enchanted.
When my Mom could no longer buy the cereal (it had been discontinued), I was extremely saddened. She tried to explain to me how products were sometimes discontinued due to being unpopular or not liked. I would ask, “But, why would they do that if it tastes so good? Don’t they know how good it is?” Hahaha! My little heart was broken and couldn’t imagine why those people at the cereal company were no longer making my favorite cereal. 😉
OK, we’re back to present day.
When I first saw freeze-dried strawberries at The Fresh Market and Whole Foods Market back when I started my initial phases of a paleo lifestyle, in 2008, I was elated. Finally! Finally the food industry angels (read: Just Tomatoes, Etc.!) were making my favorite strawberries. And, I could buy a big ol’ bag full! The Big Lug was shopping with me at the time and can attest to how ecstatic I was. I practically ran over to the display and instantly threw two bags into our shopping basket.
Right away, I knew the possibilities were endless as to what I could do with these sweet pink babies. Not only could I eat them from the bag as a snack (a total dream come true!) or add them to cereal, but I could also toss them into the blender when making protein shakes or smoothies. I could add them to my Greek yogurt. I could add them to ice cream and froyo. Even whipped cream! Again, the possibilities were endless in my mind.
Then, as a baker would, I thought of all the applications for blank canvases. Yes, I could bake with them! Yes indeed, bake. (No more using Strawberry Jell-O® for strawberry layer cakes.) But, I could also use them in buttercream frostings! I was euphoric at the mere thought of this. After all, I had already read The Cake Bible, by Rose Levy Beranbaum, many years prior and learned how she used concentrated fruit preserves to flavor and color her buttercreams naturally. However, they do add quite a bit of moisture. Freeze-dried berries and cherries are pure bliss and just the ticket in providing color and flavor when added moisture is not desired in recipes.
If you have not yet tried the fabulous freeze-dried fruit by Just Tomatoes, Etc.!, get your buns in gear and search them out. You will not be disappointed. Should you not have a food processor but still wish to work with pulverized freeze-dried fruit, or you don’t want to mess with pink powder that wafts through the air like the smoke from I Dream of Jeannie when Jeannie is about to escape from her bottle, you will be delighted to know that Just Tomatoes, Etc.! offers fruit powders. So convenient!
Y’all, I just adore these freeze-dried fruits. In fact, when I crave sour Jelly Belly® jelly beans or other sour candies, I reach for freeze-dried Just Cherries. Not only do the Just Cherries offer an incredible crunch (like popcorn!), but they offer that initial sweet taste then…sour pop! I could eat an entire bagful in one sitting. And, y’all know how much I adore tart cherries as evidenced last summer with the tart cherry mania that happened here on the blog. 😉
A Side Note: No, I have not been compensated for plugging these freeze-dried fruits on my blog. I am sincerely thrilled with them and wish to share my experiences with you, my readers. As you can imagine, I highly recommend the brand Just Tomatoes, Etc.! Also, at this time, I am not an Amazon.com affiliate.
As I have shared previously, this exceptional buttercream base is rich and buttery, melts on the tongue and is truly divine. Now, with the addition of pulverized freeze-dried fruit, such as cherries or strawberries (or other berries), this buttercream will become a new go-to recipe when you want both color and flavor pop while keeping it real and all-natural.
What about consistency, you ask? This is probably the best part about this recipe for decorating cakes, cupcakes and cheesecakes or even doughnuts and other baked sweet treats. After blending in the freeze-dried fruit powder, all you need to do is whip in heavy cream by the ½ to 1 teaspoonful to reach your desired consistency for frosting, icing and piping. There’s no need to add water to the powdered freeze-dried fruit to make a paste, first. So easy!
Provided in the recipe is some flexibility as to the amount of powdered fruit added. Want a cream cheese buttercream that is delicious yet soft pink in color and allows the cream cheese and butter to shine? Use the lesser amount. Want a cream cheese buttercream with extra color pop and fruity flavor that will stand up to the richest and darkest of chocolate cakes? Definitely go with the greater amount. It’s totally up to you!
As stated previously, the secret to making an exceptional Cream Cheese Buttercream is to use equal amounts, by weight, of butter to cream cheese—that is, 8 ounces each. This, of course, translates to two (2) sticks of butter and one (1) brick of cream cheese. Most cream cheese frosting recipes call for far too much cream cheese (read: too much moisture and not enough fat) and the frosting just does not want to pipe well. In addition, the frosting is so loosey-goosey that cake layers actually slide! No fun—especially if transporting the cake. Essentially, you would have to add an incredible amount of confectioners’ sugar to stiffen it up in order to pipe nicely. And, for most of us, this translates to a frosting that is just too cloyingly sweet.
In case you missed it, this is what I wrote in my post last spring:
“Just as with my carrot cake recipe, my Cream Cheese Buttercream recipe was inspired by the one found in my New Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook. It is quite the opposite of Mrs. Fields’ recipe that calls for two 8-ounce packages (16 ounces) of cream cheese and only one stick (½ cup or 4 ounces) of salted butter. The BHG recipe calls for one 8-ounce package of cream cheese to one stick of butter (again, at 4 ounces). However, I increased the amount of butter from the BHG recipe to create a true “Cream Cheese Buttercream” in a 1:1 ratio (8 ounces to 8 ounces) of cream cheese to butter with enough confectioners’ sugar to thicken the consistency to pipe beautifully. Sometimes, I even use one stick of salted butter with one stick of unsalted for a nice salty-sweet balance.”
What makes our Strawberry (Cherry) Cream Cheese Buttercream wicked good? This exceptional buttercream literally melts on your tongue. It is buttery-rich, creamy and smooth with a slight tang from the cream cheese and not overly sweet. With the addition of powdered (pulverized) freeze-dried fruit, such as strawberries or cherries, this cream cheese buttercream tastes just like cheesecake! Due to an adequate amount of fat from the butter, this special buttercream pipes beautifully. Our Strawberry (Cherry) Cream Cheese Buttercream is versatile and pairs extremely well with white cakes, yellow cakes and chocolate cakes alike as well as cupcakes, cheesecakes and other sweet treats like baked doughnuts. Quite simply the ideal creamy-fruity buttercream! Now that’s wicked good.
For Valentine’s Day, treat yourself to a batch of Strawberry or Cherry Cream Cheese Buttercream to frost your baked sweet treat. You and your loved ones will be beyond thrilled! I promise.
- 1 cup (2 sticks or 226 grams) unsalted butter, softened (or 1 stick salted & 1 stick unsalted)
- 1 (8-ounce/226 grams) package cream cheese, such as Philadelphia®, chilled from the fridge
- 2½ teaspoons (12.5 ml) pure vanilla extract, such as Nielsen-Massey®
- 4 to 4½ cups (480 to 540 grams) confectioners’ sugar, spooned in cup, leveled off & sifted
- 2 to 2½ cups (36 to 45 grams) freeze-dried strawberries or cherries, such as Just Tomatoes, Etc.!, pulverized, about 6 to 8 tablespoons, see Tips below in the Notes section
- Heavy cream, to thin buttercream to desired consistency
Tips:If not using immediately, the buttercream can be refrigerated for up to 2 to 3 days in an airtight container. Before using, bring to room temperature before beating smooth again. If using the buttercream to pipe details, be sure to use chilled hands when handling pastry bag as warm hands can melt the buttercream. To Pulverize Freeze-Dried Fruit: Using a food processor, process desired amount of fruit for 2 minutes. To prevent the powder from escaping and floating through the air, cover processor with a kitchen towel. After processing, wait 30 seconds before removing lid from processor. This will allow the fruit powder to settle and prevent it from messing up your kitchen workspace. If you do not own a food processor, a blender or very clean coffee grinder (dedicated to spices only perhaps) can be used. However, depending on the type of units used, the consistency may not be as powder-fine. Should you not have a food processor but still wish to work with pulverized freeze-dried fruit, or you do not want to deal with messy fruit powder by pulverizing your own, Just Tomatoes, Etc.! offers convenient fruit powders. Original Recipe Source: WickedGoodKitchen.com Copyright © Wicked Good Kitchen. All content and images are copyright protected. Please do not use my images without prior permission. If you want to republish this recipe, please re-write the recipe in your own words. Alternatively, link back to this post for the recipe.