Not Andrea - this is Josh's daughter Alyssa.There's nothing better than the stiff but creamy, grainy but smooth, tangy and sweet goodness like cream cheese icing.
I sat watching the blinking cursor for a moment, contemplating how to elaborate upon that sentence, but I'm not sure I need to. If you know the pleasure of red velvet cake, then you know the pleasure of cream cheese icing. And I can stop there.
To this particular cream cheese icing, I added fresh strawberry juice revved up with simple syrup. You could probably use frozen strawberries and do without the simple syrup - it just so happened this time around that strawberries came into season about the same time as Andrea's birthday.
To start, you will need about a pound of fresh strawberries, hulled and halved. Puree the strawberries until completely pulverized, then add simple syrup (recipe follows) a tablespoon at a time until you reach the desired sweetness. Don't make it too sweet - you're about to dump it in 6 cups' worth of powdered sugar. The goal is to even out the taste and sweetness of the strawberries, compensating for the inevitable few in every case that are underripe or too tart. Pour the mixture into a fine-mesh sieve or over cheesecloth into a small bowl. Set aside.
1 cup water
2 cups sugar
Bring the water to a rolling boil and add sugar. Stir and heat through until sugar is completely dissolved. Cool to room temperature and pour into a glass bottle. Keep in refrigerator for up to a month.
For the frosting:
2 8-ounce bricks cream cheese, room temperature
1 stick butter, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla
6 cups confectioners’ sugar
Once your frosting has come together, slowly start adding the strawberry juice. Mix well after each addition and taste - you will probably not be able to detect strawberry flavor right away, so keep going. Stop when you can taste strawberry (the flavor will develop as the cake sits).
To assemble the cake:
I cut each layer in half so I ended up with 4 thin cake layers. You don't have to do this, but like I said before: I had a lot of frosting. Place the first layer on your cake plate and drop a large blob of frosting on top. With a spatula, work from the inside out and cover the top of the layer. Place the next layer on top and repeat with as many layers as you have; just frosting the tops at this point.
Next, frost the sides of the cake. Don't worry about crumbs - this is your crumb coat. A thin layer of frosting seals in the crumbs, and when properly chilled, your second, thicker layer of frosting will glide over the crumb coat perfectly, flawlessly. Having said that, after you frost the sides, keep the cake in the refrigerator to chill - preferably overnight. Add your final layer of frosting and decorate.