So What Is The Truth About Cream Cheese Icing?

Decorating By ziggytarheel Updated 19 Aug 2009 , 12:07pm by Loucinda

ziggytarheel Posted 8 Apr 2008 , 11:08pm
post #1 of 31

I've read contradictory things on this website.

I've read that you need to be very careful with cream cheese icing, because it can easily spoil.

I've read that it is perfectly safe for it to be at room temperature for several hours because of the high content of (powdered) sugar.

I know in the past I've left cakes iced in cream cheese frosting on my counter for a day or so.

icon_eek.gif

So, can someone tell me what the real deal is?

I'm considering making a cake that would then be transported a bit more than three hours and not served until the next day. Is it okay for the 3 hour ride? Should it be refrigerated after that until serving?

Thanks!

30 replies
JanH Posted 9 Apr 2008 , 1:33am
post #2 of 31

The truth is that science trumps personal opinion every time!

Cream cheese is not shelf stable.

However, adding sufficient powdered sugar (which is hygroscopic or moisture absorbing) to cream cheese will control the "water activity" so that it is shelf stable for a time.

The problem is that not all recipes contain the minimum requisite amount of powdered sugar (for controlling water activity). (And "guessing" if your recipe does could have serious ramifications...)

A similar example would be most b/c's which contain butter and/or milk or cream (in small amounts) and lots of powdered sugar.

The powdered sugar controls the water activity in the butter and/or milk or cream in the mixture for a time.

Butter and margarine are both 80% fat and 20% water, while shortening is 100% fat, so the large amounts of powdered sugar in most American b/c recipes easily controls the water activity.

Cream cheese must be at least 33% fat and not more than 55% water - so the amount of powdered sugar necessary to control water activity is much greater:

http://homecooking.about.com/library/weekly/aa121602a.htm

(Low fat cream cheese would then require even more powdered sugar for stabilization.)

HTH

michellenj Posted 9 Apr 2008 , 2:05am
post #3 of 31

Wow. Jan, that is the best explanation I've ever heard. You are a wealth of information.

HerBoudoir Posted 9 Apr 2008 , 2:11am
post #4 of 31

(short answer - refrigerate cream cheese frosting)

Three hours is "ok" but you may want to toss a few ice packs around the container to help keep the temp down. Then get it back in the fridge when you get there. In general, you have a 4 hour period of being above 41 degrees F before the bacteria really start hopping, but after 2, quality starts to suffer.

The other thing with cream cheese frosting is that it has a tendency to melt, and the decor you worked so hard on may not hold up. I had a culinary professor who told a story about his first wedding cake - carrot with cream cheese frosting - for a June wedding....outdoors....LOL. Never again.

peanut123 Posted 9 Apr 2008 , 12:00pm
post #5 of 31

If you are in the United States, the Food and Drug Adminitration advises that "It's particularly important to keep custards, cream pies, and cakes with whipped-cream or cream-cheese frostings refrigerated" and "don't serve them if refrigeration is not possible."

http://www.foodsafety.gov/~fsg/f01chill.html


Jan is correct; the sugar in the icing would most likely act as a preservative. It is unlikely that a healthy person would become sick after eating cream cheese icing that has been at room temperature for some time. The risk is with people that have weak immune systemsâ¦for someone who has undergoing cancer treatment or has HIV, low levels of certain bacteria can be very dangerous.

ziggytarheel Posted 9 Apr 2008 , 1:22pm
post #6 of 31

Thanks so much for your help!

So, is the general idea to use a high fat content cream cheese, a recipe with lots of powdered sugar, and don't leave the icing out more than 2 hours?

CreativeDelights Posted 9 Apr 2008 , 2:00pm
post #7 of 31

Woweee... I had not idea why it needed to be refrigerated! Thanks for the info, I also found it helpful!

ShopGrl1128 Posted 9 Apr 2008 , 2:19pm
post #8 of 31

I was about to ask in this forum about the shelf life of cream cheese.
I have two brides this month asking me for cream cheese filling on their cakesâ¦
I really donât want to take the chance knowing that weddings receptions are events that usually last for more than 2 hrs.

I would like to propose them a good alternative for their fillings.
What do you think would go well with Red Velvet and Carrot Cake?

Thanks,

TheCakerator Posted 9 Apr 2008 , 2:28pm
post #9 of 31

I am curious as well .. I have a bride asking for a red velvet cake in May. I know the recipe I will be using, but have not decided what filling would be the best. I planned on making this cake on Friday, delivering it about a half hour, forty minutes away on Saturday and then it will be sitting out until its time to cut into it, probably much later ... the cake itself will be iced in butter cream dream icing .. now Im nervous that I shouldn't use cream cheese filling? what about the cream cheese filling that comes in those pastry bags? I have never had it myself .. is it any good??

bashini Posted 9 Apr 2008 , 2:34pm
post #10 of 31

I think Caramel Butter Cream goes well with Carrot Cake. I haven't tried it myself. I saw it on a recipe. There are some good recipes in the recipe index here. But I don't know any alternative filling for red velvet cake. Sorry!

goal4me Posted 9 Apr 2008 , 2:40pm
post #11 of 31

I did the following for our daughterrs 7/7/7 wedding.
Homemade carrot cake with cream cheese flavor frosting.
I used the regular Wilton buttercream recipe and added cream cheese candy oil flavor....a layer of apricot/pineapple jam bebbeather the frosting layers.... even the top notch caterer was impressed and it held up under the hot weather and the designs perfect.

SweetResults Posted 9 Apr 2008 , 2:45pm
post #12 of 31

The cream cheese filling is very good - I've used it to stuff choc covered strawberries - YUM!

ShopGrl1128 Posted 9 Apr 2008 , 2:46pm
post #13 of 31
Quote:
Originally Posted by goal4me

I did the following for our daughterrs 7/7/7 wedding.
Homemade carrot cake with cream cheese flavor frosting.




Thank you goal4me, where do you get the cream cheese flavor?
Does Michaels/ Walmart carry them?

TheCakerator Posted 9 Apr 2008 , 2:58pm
post #14 of 31

sweetresults, are you referring to the sleeved cream cheese filling?

JanH Posted 9 Apr 2008 , 4:01pm
post #15 of 31
Quote:
Originally Posted by ziggytarheel


So, is the general idea to use a high fat content cream cheese, a recipe with lots of powdered sugar, and don't leave the icing out more than 2 hours?




There are two separate ways of dealing with real cream cheese icing.

You follow the generally accepted methods of safe food storage practice which allows only for a short period of unrefrigerated serving time using ANY recipe you desire.
(Sufficient examples of the safe timeline have already been given.)

Or, you procure (not make up) a recipe that has sufficient proportions of powdered sugar to control the water activity thus ensuring shelf stability for a few days. (And you confidentally know you won't be poisoning anyone.)

Earlene Moore has a shelf stable cream cheese icing recipe on her site:

http://www.earlenescakes.com/icings.htm

There is another shelf stable recipe which I've had for a while that I will gladly email to anyone who emails me with "cream cheese" recipe as the subject.

A no-brainer for a shelf stable cream cheese flavored frosting is to use either cream cheese or cheesecake flavored extracts:

www.nationalflavors.com

https://www.lorannoils.com/p-8308-cheesecake-flavor.aspx

Additionally, cheese cake flavored sleeved pastry fillings maybe mixed with b/c, but this can thin the b/c:

http://www.globalsugarart.com/product.php?id=20411&name=Cream%20Cheese%20Filling%20by%20Henry%20&%20Henry

hthttp://www.thebakerskitchen.net/2lbredi-paksfilling.aspx

(Just be sure the sleeved filling you purchase only requires refrigeration for storing left-over product. This is the case with most brands, but not all.)

HTH

JanH Posted 9 Apr 2008 , 4:02pm
post #16 of 31
Quote:
Originally Posted by ziggytarheel


So, is the general idea to use a high fat content cream cheese, a recipe with lots of powdered sugar, and don't leave the icing out more than 2 hours?




There are two separate ways of dealing with real cream cheese icing.

You follow the generally accepted methods of safe food storage practice which allows only for a short period of unrefrigerated serving time using ANY recipe you desire.
(Sufficient examples of the safe timeline have already been given.)

Or, you procure (not make up) a recipe that has sufficient proportions of powdered sugar to control the water activity thus ensuring shelf stability for a few days. (And you confidentally know you won't be poisoning anyone.)

Earlene Moore has a shelf stable cream cheese icing recipe on her site:

http://www.earlenescakes.com/icings.htm

There is another shelf stable recipe which I've had for a while that I will gladly email to anyone who sends me their email address.

A no-brainer for a shelf stable cream cheese flavored frosting is to use either cream cheese or cheesecake flavored extracts:

www.nationalflavors.com

http://www.lorannoils.com/Productsdetail.asp?ProductName=CHEESECAKE+FLAVOR

Additionally, cheese cake flavored sleeved pastry fillings maybe mixed with b/c, but this can thin the b/c:

http://www.thebakerskitchen.com/BAKEWARE_SHOPPE/Baking_Ingredients/Pastry_Filling/pastry_fillings.htm

(Just be sure the sleeved filling you purchase only requires refrigeration for storing left-over product. This is the case with most brands, but not all.)

HTH

plbennett_8 Posted 9 Apr 2008 , 4:15pm
post #17 of 31

I just LOVE this recipe on CC...it is the one that I use all the time... Jan, does it look to contain enough sugar?

http://www.cakecentral.com/cake_recipe-6817-Wedding---Crusting-Cream-Cheese-Frosting.html

I have left it out with no ill effects, but don't quite understand the science here...lol

Thanks! icon_smile.gif
Pat

JanH Posted 10 Apr 2008 , 5:46am
post #18 of 31

Not being a food scientist, I really can't advise that the CC recipe is shelf stable.

I didn't decide that Earlene's recipe or the other one that I have are shelf stable; they were presented that way.

HTH

bigmama1961 Posted 10 Apr 2008 , 6:15am
post #19 of 31

wow ive always leave my cake for my family out for 2 days because i like it soft and creamy... but i never leave out my customers. i tell them to keep it chilled when they pick up.

alanahodgson Posted 11 Apr 2008 , 1:34am
post #20 of 31

fascinating information! So, Jan, do you know a way to use the water percentages as a way to develop a shelf stable recipe?

hula1974 Posted 17 Jun 2008 , 8:03pm
post #21 of 31

What about the store bought cream cheese frostings in the cans in the baking isle? Just curious if they have a safer make up.

cakesondemand Posted 17 Jun 2008 , 11:14pm
post #22 of 31

I worked at costco for years and we never put our creamcheese in the fridge we had big food safe bins and left it out all week.

MissRobin Posted 18 Jun 2008 , 1:30pm
post #23 of 31

I have used cream cheese buttercream many times for wedding cakes, I used Toba's recipe, I even contacted her and ask if it would be ok for 2 days sitting out. Her response was, as long as you have a cool dry area to store cake it would be fine. I haven't had any problems so far, I also tried the Wedding Cream Cheese posted previously with no problems.

MayWest Posted 18 Jun 2008 , 1:50pm
post #24 of 31

JanH,

Thank you for sharing your wealth of knowledge!! One question regarding SMBC and cream cheese? I also have a bride who is requesting a red velvet cake with cream cheese filling (this will be the first time for me making a cake with cream cheese filling). I really like the taste and texture of the SMBC mixed with cream cheese. This will be a 4 tier cake covered in fondant and I don't like to refrigerate my fondant covered cakes. Do you know how long I can keep this one out?

Thanks!!

vdrsolo Posted 18 Jun 2008 , 2:41pm
post #25 of 31

I refuse to use real cream cheese in my icing because even though I have control over the cake being refrigerated, I do not know how the end customer will store the cake. If they have left over cake, they could potentially store it for days sitting out, and I don't want to be responsible if they get sick.

I always use the sleeved cream cheese filling mixed with buttercream, it tastes yummy and my brides do not know a difference. If it needs thickened up, just add more powdered sugar. I use it as a filling only for wedding cakes because it is not pure white. Since I torte all my layers, they still get plenty of the cream cheese icing when I still use regular buttercream or fondant on top.

kristina67 Posted 18 Jun 2008 , 4:16pm
post #26 of 31

This is such a great post! I have a great BC/cream cheese/shortening recipe and have been afraid to use it since reading all of the posts on CC. Now I feel that this recipe, which I received from a very reputable cake designer, should be just fine. Thanks again for asking the question.

amazonabby Posted 18 Aug 2009 , 4:37pm
post #27 of 31

Ok so the store bought icing should not spoil if it can be left at room temp for months. So how would you go about stiffing up the store bought icing so you could make it smooth like fondant? Could you just add confectioners sugar until it was stiff enough to crust? Or should I just make it homemade and hope it doesn't spoil?

The Cream Cheese Buttercream Icing recipe on Earlene's site is it a stiff crusting recipe? Could I make it crusting by adding more c. sugar?

I am going to make my friends wedding cake for an evening October outdoor reception. i am worried about it spoiling, melting and not being smooth.

She wants a red velvet cake with cream cheese frosting because she hates the taste of fondant.

Please let me know if you have any ideas.

It will be a 3 tier red velvet cake with cream cheese filling and icing with fondant decorations.

sadsmile Posted 18 Aug 2009 , 4:55pm
post #28 of 31

I don't know about the will not spoil idea. Right on the can/package it says refrigerate after opening.

I don't think that means just the leftovers either.

Larkin121 Posted 18 Aug 2009 , 4:57pm
post #29 of 31

Just a thought...

Have you ever tried the Cheesecake flavor of the Lorann Oils? It's delicious, and tastes much like cream cheese icing.

You could do 3 things with it:

1. Make regular buttercream but add this flavor - will crust, won't spoil.

2. Add it to Bettercreme... won't spoil, but won't crust, have to smooth with a spatula.

3. Make homemade fondant and use the flavoring in that if the taste is what she doesn't like (opposed to texture), because then the fondant has a delicious taste.

ceshell Posted 18 Aug 2009 , 11:11pm
post #30 of 31

Fourth option, there is a cream cheese fondant recipe here on CC, it's supposedly to die for! I haven't tried it though. Anyway I don't have the other answers to your questions, except that I do believe Earlene's recipe crusts.

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