the secret weapon: (peanut butter) cream cheese icing
Summertime, sort of perversely is always high gear baking time for me because my brother, my husband, my mother-in-law and two sisters-in-law all have birthdays between May and September. So lately I've been making a lot of developments in my celebration cake making. This year was especially important because my sister-in-law graduated from Medical School ON her birthday (the cake, with marzipan diploma, is pictured here)! In any case, when my brother's birthday rolled around, I didn't just want to make him the dark chocolate cake with cream cheese icing that is his favourite, I wanted to do something a bit special. And it then it came to me. Peanut butter.
At first I wasn't sure whether it was a good idea. Having made my cream cheese icing, I took a bit and added some peanut butter as an experiment. What I created was so extraordinarily good that I woke my husband up to taste it. And now you can make it too. Below is the recipe for cream cheese icing and then the method of how to make it into peanut butter cream cheese icing. On my brother's cake I iced with the plain cream cheese and used the peanut butter cream cheese icing as a filling between the two layers of dark chocolate cake (for the recipe, see my Hard Kaur Chocolate Cake). This worked extremely well. I wouldn't recommend icing and filling a cake with peanut butter icing unless you are a real fan, but it would be an extremely good icing to top a chocolate, banana or snickerdoodle cup cake with!
1 cup Milk
¼ cup all purpose flour
8 oz. Unsalted butter
1 cup superfine granulated sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
200g Philadelphia cream cheese
juice of 1/2 a lemon
1 large jar smooth, no sugar-added, natural peanut butter (adding method below...don't worry...you don't add the whole thing...unless you want to.)
1. Quickly whisk together 4 tbsps of the milk with the flour. The slurry will be somewhat thick so whisk thoroughly to make it smooth. Press out any lumps with a flexible spatula, if necessary.
2. Whisk in the rest of the milk and transfer the mixture to a 2 quart heavy-bottomed saucepan. Bring to a simmer for about 30 seconds over medium heat, whisking the whole time.
3. Remove the pan from the stove and place plastic wrap directly against the milk’s surface. (This is the best method to prevent a skin from forming). Cool to room temperature.
4. Combine the butter, sugar, salt, and vanilla in the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and mix at a medium to high speed for 5 minutes.
5. Pour the cooled milk-and-flour mixture into the bowl and beat for another 5 minutes, or longer, as needed to achieve a spreadable consistency.
6. Add the cream cheese 100g at a time and blend into the mixture thoroughly.
7. Add the lemon juice. This will give the cream cheese icing a lighter, zestier taste.
You can stop here, if what you want is cream cheese icing, and this is a non-traditional recipe for cream cheese icing that is essentially a buttercream with cream cheese added. This means that it is much much more stable than your average cream cheese icing which has a tendency to melt if you so much as think a warm thought.
If you are making a layer cake, take one third of the icing you have made aside to make the peanut butter cream cheese filling. If you are making cupcakes and want to make the entire batch of icing into peanut butter cream cheese icing, follow the method with the whole lot of icing.
Transfer your desired quantity of icing into a new bowl and for every 7 tbsp generous tbsp of cream cheese icing, add 2 tbsp of peanut butter. Of course if you find this too rich or too light you can adjust accordingly, but that's the ratio that I recommend.
You will love it. :)