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Crusting cream cheese buttercream on a red velvet birthday cake with gumpaste stars and edible decorations Once people find out you make cakes, look out! I recently made this cake for a friend’s daughter who was turning 17. She wanted a red velvet cake and her favourite colour is turquoise. Those were the sum of the instructions I got. I have daughters so it was pretty easy to come up with a design I thought she’d like. Firstly, I had to research just what was this red velvet cake which has lately become a bit of a National obsession and just what flavour is RED? 😉 After scouring books and asking questions it became apparent that red velvet cake and cream cheese icing are quite often a popular and successful pairing. But I wanted the look of fondant and the taste of cream cheese. As luck would have it I found this fabulous recipe for “Crusting Cream Cheese Buttercream” on the RecipeZaar website courtesy of one of their members. THANKS!

Recipe – Crusting Cream Cheese Buttercream

SERVES 1 , 4-5 cups (change servings and units)

Ingredients :

1 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup vegetable shortening
1 lb cream cheese, softened
1 tablespoon clear vanilla extract
3 1/2 lbs sifted confectioners’ sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt


1.   Cream butter, shortening, cream cheese and extracts. Gradually add confectioner’s sugar and salt. Beat on low speed until nice and creamy. If you want whiter icing, try to use butter without dyes available at most health food stores.

2.   This recipe is for a stiff consistency. For a thinner consistency, use 3 pounds of powdered sugar instead.

3.   If you want a very smooth cake, let the cake sit for 15 minutes after icing (longer for a thinner icing). Then using your spatula or fondant smoothing tool (this works best)and smooth it with a plain, non-patterned Viva paper towel. To do this, take your paper towel and lay it on your icing (after it crusts) and lightly rub over the paper towel with your hand, spatula or fondant smoothing tool to get a smooth surface. If the icing sticks to the paper towel, you didn’t let it “crust” long enough. Stick it in the fridge for 20 minutes or so to let it “crust” then try again. If you let it dry too long it will get harder to achieve the smooth look.

4.   This recipe will ice, fill and decorate an 8″ double layer cake with icing left over.

When a buttercream is called “crusting” it means that it dries out and hardens enough to be smoothed with a paper towel and/or your smoothing tool. It doesn’t get as hard as royal icing but hard enough to handle. If your room is warm or the icing starts to get sticky you can pop the cake back in the refrigerator or freezer for a few minutes until it firms up again. If you like the look of fondant but not the taste this can be smoothed to achieve the same visual appeal. I made the first red velvet cake but it just wasn’t “red” enough. It looked more like chocolate cake that had a red tint to it. So I remade both the 12×12 and the 6×6 cakes again and this time they were RED! They also turned out to be very moist and tasty. I made some gumpaste from a Nicholas Lodge recipe and then proceeded to make various sized stars to which I inserted wires and painted with edible silver and edible turquoise glitter. Then I coloured some gumpaste to a turquoise shade, made a plaque for her name and a few more stars for good measure. I sprinkled the top of the cake with a little more glitter and called it done. My friend Susan was so happy with the cake I made for her daughter she cried. 🙂 HAPPY BIRTHDAY MORGAN! Things I learned from this cake adventure… RED velvet cake gets on EVERYTHING and leaves a stain – be warned! Stick wired objects into the cake AFTER you drive across town to deliver it – they wobble a LOT! Happy baking! ~ Colleen 🙂


Colleen on 10 July, 2013 at 6:40 pm #

Hi Nancy, I have made this frosting in Nebraska, Louisiana and Oklahoma. It is like most frostings and will definitely get soft if left out of the refrigerator for long periods of time. If you can leave it in the fridge or a cool room until needed then it will do better. The addition of the shortening does stabilize it some. I would make a stiffer product by the addition of some extra powdered sugar rather than a thinner icing. It is not at all like the frosting you buy in the can from the grocery store. Let me know if you have any further questions I can help with. Happy baking! Colleen

Kristle on 10 July, 2013 at 7:27 pm #

Nancy, I am also in Texas (smack dab in the middle of the state) and I used this for my sister’s wedding cake last year, 3 tiers, and it worked wonderfully! Hope that helps!

Colleen on 10 July, 2013 at 7:36 pm #

Hey Kristle! Thank you for the input, that is very useful info! So glad it worked for your cakes! Hope you are enjoying the Summer! Colleen

Kristle on 10 July, 2013 at 7:48 pm #

Thank you Colleen! Well, you know, it is July in Texas, so summer is miserable. 😉
Thanks for the great recipe!

Nancy on 10 July, 2013 at 10:13 pm #

Thank you colleen and kristle. That helped a lot. I live close to Galveston

Colleen on 10 July, 2013 at 10:39 pm #

Hey Nancy! My daughter lives in Katy Texas and I was there twice last month. Haven’t ventured to Galveston yet but hope to some day soon, I hear it’s nice! Good luck to you! Colleen

Chels on 27 July, 2013 at 1:03 am #

Hi Colleen, I have a cake I need to do that I was going to use this recipe. I was just wondering how long it can be kept at room temperature?

Rubberseed on 1 August, 2013 at 2:18 am #

Hi, thanks for sharing! I am worried if the frosting will be too sweet. Can I substitute some powdered sugar for corn flour or cornstarch? Any other suggestions will be greatly appreciated!

Colleen on 1 August, 2013 at 8:10 am #

Hi Chels, It should be good for an hour or so. I would definitely try to keep it in a cooler place if possible, which I know isn’t always possible. This frosting does keep pretty well. We’ve done a few tests and it doesn’t soften to the point where it runs off the cake. I do tend to make mine a bit on the stiffer side so that it holds up well. Of course from a food safety perspective, it has dairy so needs to be treated the same way. Good luck!

Colleen on 1 August, 2013 at 2:02 pm #

Hi Rubberseed, I’ve never heard of anyone replacing sugar with corn flour or cornstarch. They have quite different properties and I can’t imagine what it would do to the consistency, let alone the flavor. It is frosting and that does tend to be sweet. I have many Asian customers who also don’t like their product too sweet so I tend to add a little more salt to cut the sugar, but the cream cheese in it does a great job of not being too sweet. I say go and try your idea and I’d love to hear how that works out! Best of luck.

Mary on 9 August, 2013 at 1:59 pm #

Can I add white chocolate to this cream cheese frosting and still have it crust?

Colleen on 9 August, 2013 at 4:23 pm #

Hi Mary, I have added melted chocolate to my mix before and it still worked out very nicely. It crusted and I was happy with the result. I was using Dutch Processed chocolate not white. White chocolate has a lot more cocoa butter, sugar and milk solids in it than does milk or dark (brown) chocolate. I’m thinking you may have to check it as you go and the worst would be that you would have to add some more powdered sugar to it. I would also leave out the crisco as you probably don’t need it with the addition of white chocolate. Best of luck and you will find this a very forgiving recipe.

Happy baking! Colleen

Linda on 28 December, 2013 at 8:17 pm #

Hi Colleen, will the crusting cream cheese frosting still be moist under the crusting?

Colleen on 28 December, 2013 at 8:36 pm #

Hi Linda, yes the frosting underneath is still very nice and moist. Let me know if you have any other questions.

Happy New Year!


wentworth on 5 January, 2014 at 8:12 pm #

Hi collee,

I trying to make cupcake, the frosting is cream cheese and using little piece of fondant on top for decoration ( like george town cupcake decoration ). The fondant gets wet and melt after 1-2 hour. Can i fix that problem with your recipe ? can the cupcake stay in normal room temperature ( around 25 degree, warm) in about 2 days?

thanks a lot ..

Colleen on 5 January, 2014 at 9:15 pm #

Hello Wentworth, Because this frosting has cream cheese and eggs in it I do always refrigerate them afterwards. However, as you already know you can’t really put fondant in the fridge or it breaks down. My recommendation would be to place the cupcakes in a cool area (not sure which part of the globe you are in) but here in the USA it’s cold enough to not have to refrigerate. I would then just pop the fondant decorations on the day you need the cupcakes if this is practical for you. I hope this helps some! Best of luck.


Ericka on 14 January, 2014 at 7:09 am #

I live in Atlanta, GA and when I use a buttercream recipe I use a meringue powder just 1-2 tablespoons depending on the humidity. It helps tremendously with the icing not running, becoming tacky etc. Thanks for the recipe! I use this one at times:

Monique Romero on 14 January, 2014 at 9:49 pm #

Hi Colleen !! Can I use unsalted butter for this recipe?!

Colleen on 14 January, 2014 at 9:53 pm #

Hi Ericka, I’ve heard that really does help! Great idea! Thanks for sharing. 🙂 Colleen

Colleen on 14 January, 2014 at 9:54 pm #

Hey Monique, absolutely! Most baking recipes use unsalted so you can control the level of salt in the recipe. Best, Colleen 🙂

Monique Romero on 14 January, 2014 at 9:56 pm #

Awesome! Thank you so much for replying so quick 🙂

Donna on 16 February, 2014 at 1:36 pm #

I made this and it was yummy..I have a lot left and I was wondering I could freeze it?

Colleen on 16 February, 2014 at 1:45 pm #

Hi Donna, I’ve kept this stuff in the freezer for months with no noticeable change in the product. When I take it out I defrost it and then whip it up in the mixer again. Glad to hear you liked it! Have a great day! Colleen

Martha on 21 March, 2014 at 11:14 am #

Can I cover a cake in piped rosettes with this frosting? I just made cc frosting but added melted white chocolate and that was not a good thing (runny mess). Im gonna try this one because I need to cover a cake in piped rosettes and need a stiff cc frosting.

Candice on 26 March, 2014 at 7:32 pm #

Hey Hun, I’m making a top tier cake and cupcakes for a friends wedding. She has insisted on cream cheese for the frosting as she wants red velvet. The top tier is going to have fondant roses cascading down the side… How would I achieve this? My thought is that the wetness of the cream will melt the roses and they will wilt and fall off. Even if I put a stick into them I’m scared of them becoming soft and sliding… Help me please 🙂

Colleen on 27 March, 2014 at 11:22 am #

Hi Candice! IF the roses are made of gumpaste you could just wire them together in the cascade and position them onto the cake on the day. Of course out of the fridge as we know what happens! If they are butter cream you are able to pipe them directly onto this cream cheese frosting and they should stay well. I would definitely leave the top tier out of the fridge/freezer on the morning, in a cool, dry place and let it “crust” which will provide a very dry surface. I hope this helps. Be sure to make a stiffer frosting so that is is a bit drier overall. Best, Colleen

Colleen on 27 March, 2014 at 11:24 am #

Hey Martha, I would make this frosting stiffer with the addition of some extra powdered sugar. It should be fine to pipe the roses out of this mixture. Don’t put them in the refrigerator as you know they will sag and fall apart. Best, Colleen

Candice on 27 March, 2014 at 7:26 pm #

Thanks so much!! Yes I will definitely leave it out for a bit to form the crust. I’m going to do a trial run tomorrow. Fingers crossed it works 🙂

Pam on 22 April, 2014 at 1:04 pm #

I made this frosting and it is delicious however the sides of my cake began to melt off in a matter of about 30 minutes after removing the cake from the fridge….was so devastated I wanted to cry.. but it is yummy that’s for sure

corina on 23 June, 2014 at 10:46 pm #

Hi I was wondering if I could use this recipe under fondant, I have a wedding cake three tiers i have to do and the bride to be wants red velvet with cream cheese filling and fondant since this is a crusting buttercream I really want to know. Also, I livre in Houston Texas. And the cake is for August so it’ll be pretty hot

Cindy on 21 August, 2014 at 9:27 am #

So glad to have found this recipe! I am making a friend’s wedding cake in a couple of months.

My question is, can you replace the butter and shortening with all hi-ratio shortening (such as Sweetex)? The bride wants an all-white cake, so I don’t want to use any butter.


Colleen on 21 August, 2014 at 9:32 am #

Hi Cindy. I’ve never used the Sweetex product but I would definitely make a test batch to see how that works before the wedding cake project. Also, see how it stands up at room temperature and in the refrigerator etc. That’s what I would do. I had to make my daughter’s cake vegan and did those sorts of tests beforehand as we didn’t use any butter then but all Crisco. Sounds like the Sweetex is similar to Crisco.

Best of luck!


Colleen on 21 August, 2014 at 10:53 am #

Pam, so sorry to hear the side of the cake melted!! I would definitely try to make it a bit stiffer next time by adding some additional powdered sugar perhaps. Best, Colleen

Colleen on 21 August, 2014 at 10:54 am #

Yes Corina, you can use this under fondant. Best, Colleen

Eve on 20 September, 2014 at 9:42 am #

Hi, I have used your recipe over and over it is AMAZING! I’m in Phoenix AZ this recipe holds up in the heat.
I’m wondering if I can add raspberry extract instead of vanilla or add fresh raspberry puree to get a raspberry flavor cream cheese. Your thoughts? Have you tried different flavor variations?

Rita on 6 March, 2016 at 11:04 am #

Can the frosting be piped on cupcakes and then frozen or will it be really hard when it’s defrosted since it’s crusting?

Colleen on 6 March, 2016 at 3:33 pm #

Hello Rita, yes it can be used for cupcakes. It only dries on to the touch on the outside but is very nice frosting. I use it for all of my cakes. Colleen

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