Vegan Cream Cheese Frosting (2 Ways)

Bowl of vegan cream cheese frosting

People who are new to veganism get really anxious when making eggless cakes, but I personally have never found this to be a problem. What is more complicated in my opinion is the specific type of icing that we are used to with certain types of cakes. I realized that I had several carrot cake recipes on the website, all of them using alternative ingredients, and I had yet to make one that was traditional – layered and topped with vegan cream cheese frosting – so I decided that this is what I did ( recipe coming up…)

While the cake part is fairly straightforward, I found the frosting to be a bit tricky. Yes, you can make a vegan cream cheese frosting by simply replacing the vegan cream cheese with its vegan equivalent, but I’ve found that you have to tweak the proportions a bit to make it less firm than a vegan cream cheese based one. In dairy cheese (the block version of this is apparently 30% fat so it’s hard to compete with). You can make a dairy cream cheese frosting using a 1:4 ratio (1 part butter to 4 parts cream cheese), these ratios don’t quite work with vegan cream cheese in my experience so you’ll need to use more vegan butter to get a similar level of firmness.

Another thing I wasn’t hugely keen on was the taste – I found that my vegan cream cheese frosting was just sweet and lacked the tang I associate with cream cheese frosting. When I tried to fix it with some lemon juice, it split on me and the amount of lemon juice required was too much and therefore made the frosting runny.

Since I’ve seen brands of vegan cream cheese that aren’t strong, it got me thinking that making a very simple vegan cream cheese from just two ingredients: cashews and lemon juice would work just as well, and it would give me complete control over the resulting flavor. I did some testing, some necessary tweaking (lots of frosting ended up in my compost pile) and to my relief, I finally hit the perfect ratio and the frosting won over many non-vegans. Duncan shared the cake frosted with my homespun vegan cream cheese frosting with this kayaking group and the frosting apparently got lots of compliments. It was also proof that I needed (since stability was another issue I was concerned about) that it was stable enough to survive several hours of travel and sitting before getting into the car.

Below, are two different recipes for vegan cream cheese frosting. One that’s easier and less involved because it just uses store-bought vegan cream cheese (I used Biolife) albeit in varying proportions of a dairy cream cheese frosting. The other one needs a little more work but the taste is much better in my opinion. It only requires 4 main ingredients and you don’t need to hunt for the perfect vegan cream cheese, which can be hard to find in certain areas and always adds a level of risk as there is no standard recipe. I absolutely loved both the taste and texture of that second frosting, and I plan to make more variations of it from now on.

More about ingredients

Vegan cream cheese frosting is a two-way ingredient

Vegan butter: Vegan butter, the kind that comes in a block (as opposed to a tub) is key to making both of my frostings. I recommend using the same brand as your toast. I went for Violife (though Naturli is probably a favorite but impossible for me to get close to). You want to leave the vegan butter out of the fridge for a while before you start so it’s easier to whip, but you don’t want it to soften. I like to cut mine into pieces before whipping because it cuts down on flying out of the bowl while working.

Vegan Cream Cheese (Version 1): Store-bought vegan cream cheese is what I used to make the vegan equivalent of traditional cream cheese frosting. I have used the Violife brand, which works well.

Cashew (Version 2): Raw cashews soaked in boiling water for at least 30 minutes are the base of my simple cream cheese. You may be able to achieve similar results with hulled sunflower seeds (I’ve used them in thick creamy dressings with success) but I haven’t experimented with them.

Lemon Juice (Version 2): Lemon juice gives my simple cream cheese its much needed tang. I use half lemon juice and half water to achieve the flavor balance that I enjoy, but you can vary the amount to suit your palate.

Icing/Icing Sugar: Icing sugar (also known as powdered sugar) is needed not only to give the frosting its sweetness, but also to give it stiffness.

Vegan cream cheese frosting mixed with cashews

When making the cashew version of my vegan cream cheese frosting, place the drained cashews (soaked in boiling water for at least 30 minutes or cold water for several hours) in a small blender with the lemon juice and water.

Vegan cream cheese frosting mixed with cashews

Blend the mixture until creamy and smooth, using a flexible spatula to scrape down the sides of the blender if necessary. Once blended transfer to a bowl – use a spatula to get everything out (you should have around 200g / 7oz of cashew mixture). Refrigerate to harden.

Vegan cream cheese frosting with whipped butter

Cut room temperature vegan butter into small pieces and place in a large bowl. Using an electric mixer, beat until it’s fluffy and a little paler than it started. Gradually add in cooled cashew mixture (or store-bought vegan cream cheese if making version 1!) whipping butter after each addition.

Vegan cream cheese frosting sugar
Once all the cashew mixture / vegan cream cheese is combined, whisk in a small amount of icing sugar. Keep stirring until mostly dissolved. Transfer to a container and refrigerate until needed.

Vegan cream cheese frosting made

Vegan Cream Cheese Frosting Side

Frequently Asked Questions

How long is it kept?

Both versions of the frosting can be refrigerated for 4-5 days. As with all buttercream based frostings, the cakes should be completely cooled before you apply the frosting and once frosted the cake should not be exposed to direct heat such as sunlight or the heat of a fireplace.

Container of vegan cream cheese frosting

Does it freeze well?

The cashew version freezes well, I haven’t tested freezing the other version yet.

How much does it make?

This recipe makes over 750 ml / 3 cups of frosting, which is enough to frost a 20 cm / 8″ round 2-layer cake.

How do I harden Rooney Frosting?

If you follow the recipe correctly and use scale measurements, you won’t have that problem, but for whatever reason the frosting runs a bit too much (we’ve all been there – failure of concentration, a cat running through the kitchen at full speed at a crucial moment 😉 …), You can mix in a tablespoon or two of cornstarch, tapioca, or arrowroot as the very last ingredient. Also, make sure not to skimp on the icing sugar as it not only acts as a sweetener but also as a thickener. I know, it’s not healthy but if you’re going to eat a cake, you might as well do it in style.

Do I need kitchen equipment?

If you want to make my cashew version instead of store-bought vegan cream cheese frosting, you’ll need a small but powerful blender/smoothie maker like this Ninja to blend the cashews until creamy and smooth while using a little liquid ( Makes the extra liquid (frosting runny) as possible. You don’t necessarily need the same brand, but a similar type of blender where the blender attachment is screwed into the motor and the bowl is designed for small batch blending. You’ll also need an electric (hand-held or stand) mixer to make both versions of the frosting.

Vegan Cream Cheese Frosting Cake

version

  • 150 g / 5.3 oz block of vegan butter
  • 200g/7oz vegan cream cheese (I used Biolife)
  • 400 g / 14 oz (3¼ cups) icing / powdered sugar*

Version 2*

  • 150 g / 5.3 oz block of vegan butter
  • 100 g / ¾ cup raw cashews, soaked
  • 65 ml / ¼ cup + 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 400 g / 14 oz (3¼ cups) icing / powdered sugar*

method

Version 1

  1. Cut room temperature vegan butter into small pieces and place in a large mixing bowl. Whip the butter with an electric whisk until fluffy and pale.
  2. Add a small portion of the vegan cream cheese and beat until well combined, continuing to add the cheese in small increments (say 6) until thoroughly combined.
  3. Once the mixture is smooth, add the icing sugar in 4 or more increments, beating well after each addition. Continue whisking until all the sugar has dissolved
  4. Refrigerate for half an hour before use. If not using immediately, keep locked in an air-tight container. It keeps for 4-5 days in the fridge.

Version 2

  1. Place the drained cashews in a small ninja blender with 65 ml (¼ cup + 1 teaspoon) lemon juice and 60 ml (¼ cup) water. Process in a blender until smooth, helping with a spatula from time to time. Do not add any extra liquid, 125 ml (½ cup + 1 tsp) is enough to blend the cashews until creamy and smooth.
  2. Scrape the mixture out of the blender with a silicone spatula into a bowl – you should end up with 200g / 7oz of mixture. Refrigerate the mixture for a few hours (or overnight) to firm up. Alternatively, refrigerate for 30 minutes and then transfer to the fridge for another hour or so.
  3. Cut room temperature vegan butter into small pieces and place in a large mixing bowl. Whip the butter with an electric whisk until fluffy and pale.
  4. Add a small portion of the vegan cream cheese and beat until well combined, continuing to add the cashew mixture in small increments (say 6) until thoroughly combined.
  5. Once the mixture is smooth, add the icing sugar in 4 or more increments, beating well after each addition. Continue whisking until all the sugar has dissolved.
  6. Refrigerate for half an hour before use. If not used immediately, keep locked in an air-tight container. It keeps for 4-5 days in the fridge.

Comment

*Version 2: To make this vegan cream cheese frosting, you need a small but powerful blender/smoothie maker like this Ninja. You don’t necessarily need the same brand, but a similar type of blender where the blender attachment is screwed into the motor and the bowl is designed for small batch blending.

*Icing Sugar: If your sugar is grainy or lumpy, be sure to sift it before adding the frosting.

Nutritional information

*per tablespoon (cashew version)

Source link