I Gave Cream Cheese Frosting a Makeover and Now I'll Never Go Back to the Original

Those people that claim they hate frosting? They haven't tried this one. 

Honey Mascarpone Cream Cheese Frosting
Photo: Grace Elkus

It all started with Giada di Laurentiis' "Marry-Me" banana muffins—muffins so good, apparently, that if you make them for your partner it just may lead to a proposal (at least, this was the case for one Florida couple). Could this recipe be the new engagement chicken? (A recipe first published in Glamour in 2004 that has since been credited with dozens of marriage proposals—including playing a part in Meghan Markle's and Prince Harry's). I had to find out.

But the muffins, while tasty, didn't blow us away. To begin, they're really cupcakes disguised as muffins, what with 2 cups of sugar in the batter and a generous dollop of frosting on top. Perhaps it was the pressure for them to be proposal worthy, but they fell flat in the flavor department, and didn't achieve the crispy golden crust I love so much on muffins. If you do make them, opt for four very large bananas to boost the banana flavor.

So while I can't expect to walk down the aisle any time soon, the frosting on the muffin/cupcakes did provide inspiration for an incredible upgrade to a standard cream cheese frosting. The flavors of Laurentiis' was delicious, but the consistency was iffy (it lacked the heft and body I look for in a stellar frosting). So I started from scratch with the major players in front of me: butter, cream cheese, mascarpone, honey. And then I experimented, adding confectioners' sugar, vanilla, and a pinch of salt to create a grown-up cream cheese frosting that will make you forget about the cake underneath.

Tangy but sweet, and just honey and mascarpone to give it that something special. It begs to be slathered onto pumpkin or banana bread, a spice cake or a coffee cake. Here's how to do it:

Using an electric mixer, beat 8 oz. room temperature cream cheese with 4 Tbsp. (1/2 stick) room-temperature unsalted butter on medium-high until light and fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes. Add 1/2 cup mascarpone cheese and beat until combined. Reduce speed to low and add 1 1/2 cups confectioners sugar, 2 tablespoons honey, 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract and a pinch of salt and beat until combined, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary. Increase speed to medium-high and whip until fluffy and incredibly creamy, 2 to 3 minutes.

RELATED: How to Stack and Frost a Layer Cake

This recipe makes enough to generously frost an entire sheet cake, 2 loaves of quick bread, or 24 cupcakes.

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