There are many recipes, particularly in baking, that calls for softened cream cheese. Whether you use it for baking cookies and as cake toppings or sauces, cream cheese can go with almost everything and gives a special taste.
However, you must know how to work with cream cheese. Because some recipes need you to soften cream cheese before mixing it with other ingredients, mastering how to soften cream cheese is a must.
Surely, you do not want to mix refrigerated cream cheese with other ingredients and feel the struggle in your arms to have a smooth texture, right?
So here I am, presenting you with five easy methods on how you can easily soften cream cheese for any recipes you might have.
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5 Easy Methods on How to Soften Cream Cheese for Any Cooking Needs
Method 1: The Microwave Option
Relying on the heat of the microwave is the easiest and fastest way to soften cheese cream.
In this method you will need
- Microwave-safe plate
- Microwave (obviously)
- Knife (optional)
- Spoon or fork
- Prepare your cream cheese. You can either soften a whole block or you can cut it into small pieces using the knife. Preferable, I cut the cheese into pieces since it speeds up the whole heating process. You can make at least 6 to 8 cube pieces of cheese.
- Place the cream cheese on the microwave-safe plate.
- Put the plate on the microwave and set it to “High”. Heat the cream cheese for 10 seconds.
- After the time elapsed, check for the softness and consistency of the cheese by pressing on it using a spoon or a fork. If the cheese easily gives way without any resistance, then it is ready for mixing with other ingredients. If it remains firm, then, out it back to the microwave and heats it for another 10 seconds. If it still remains firm, then you can heat it for another 5 seconds.
Note: Be careful, however, not to overheat the cream cheese since it might burn, and its consistency and taste will be ruined.
Method 2: The Blending Option
Here is another method on how to soften cream cheese in an instant.
In this method you will need
- Mixer or blender
- Cut the cream cheese into cube size.
- Put in in a tilt-head mixer or blender. In case you are using a blender, you can add a little water to it so that you will have a creamy, smooth look.
- Use the spoon to scrape remaining cream cheese from hard to reach parts of the blender.
Note: Try not to use a hand mixer. It will be a real struggle softening hard cream cheese with it.
Method 3: The Hot Water Bath Option
If you are not in a hurry, then this method should work well.
This method is recommended for optimal softness in different recipes if you do not want your cream cheese nearly liquefied.
In this method you will need
- A large bowl filled with lukewarm water
- Ziploc bag or plastic wrap
- Pack the cold cheese. In case, you still have an unopened cream cheese then you can proceed in heating the cheese. However, if it is already open, then you need to transfer it to a Ziploc bag or securely wrap it with a plastic wrap.
- Submerge the packed cream cheese on the large bowl filled with lukewarm water for 10 minutes.
- After the time, take the cream cheese out of the water and gently squeeze it. If it is still firm, then put it back to the water and wait for another five minutes.
- If it remains firm, then replace the water with a warmer one and put your cream cheese back until you get the desired softness and consistency.
Method 4: Softening at Room Temperature
The easiest, yet the slowest method of all. However, this is a great way to soften cream cheese if you will need for later. And since you do not expose your cheese to any heat, this method is great if you want to keep the texture intact.
For this method, all you need is a plate and your cream cheese.
Take the cream cheese out of the refrigerator and place it on the plate. Let it sit on the counter for 1 to 2 hours. The softening period may vary because of different room temperatures. However, 2 hours is enough to soften the cheese.
Do not leave your cream cheese at room temperature for more than 3 hours. Unlike hard cheese, cheese cream will go bad if left for that long since it has moisture and tends to spoil much faster.
It is important to set a reminder on your phone or have a timer to not forget about your cream cheese on the counter.
Method 5: The Thinning Option
Adding ingredients to your cream cheese is a simple trick to get a softer cheese without heating it. Here are the best ingredients you can use for thinning your cream cheese.
1. Add cream or milk
Cream or milk is neutral-flavored products that are perfect for thinning cream cheese without altering its taste. Cream or milk makes cream cheese less “tangy”, but the difference is not major.
- Add a small amount of cream or milk to the cream cheese. You can start by adding no more than one tablespoon.
- Stir it well. Your cream cheese should become a little less solid and will be easier to mix.
- If it is still not soft enough, you can extra amounts of cream or milk until you get the desired softness and consistency.
Note: Cream or milk softening is best if you want cream cheese for the frosting.
2. Add melted butter
Adding melted butter is another good choice for thinning cream cheese. Melt the butter in the microwave and then combine it with the cream cheese. Stir well the mixture together until softness and consistency are achieved.
Note: Try to use unsalted butter to have the smallest possible effect on the taste of your cream cheese.
3. Add a small amount of lemon juice
Lemon juice do not only thin out the solid cream cheese, but also gives it a noticeable tart taste.
You might want to use less lemon juice than you would use for other ingredients in this section. You can try to add 1 to 2 teaspoons t your cream cheese and mix it well.
Note: While adding lemon juice goes well with frosting and another sour and sweet dessert, it will not go well with every dish, so try to use this thinning trick with caution.
4. Mixing with mascarpone
Very similar to cream cheese, mascarpone is an Italian spread that just a little softer and lighter. Since it is so close to cream cheese, mascarpone is a good choice if you want to make your cream cheese softer than it already is.
The effect is noticeable yet subtle and is perfect when using the mix as a spread for desserts like bread pudding or French toast.
5. Mixing with marshmallow stuff
Fluffy marshmallow topping may not seem like it would not taste good with cream cheese. However, they can be perfect when thinning out the cream cheese for frosting.
This mixture gives cream cheese a mildly sweet flavor instead of the neutral flavors of melted butter, milk, or cream and tartness from adding lemon juice.
Softening it up
Choosing the best way on how to soften cream cheese largely depends on how much time you have. Each method works just fine, does not require much effort, and can be easily done by everyone.
Blending and using the microwave is your best bet for instant softening but can sometimes change the texture of cream cheese.
If you have the time in the world, then leaving cream cheese at room temperature or in a bowl filled with lukewarm water should be good.
Choosing the right way to soften cream cheese depends on how much time you have to spare. Each way works just fine, and it doesn’t need much effort, and everyone can do it with ease.
If you want to break a sweat, the thinning option will prove a good side exercise for your arms.
But, whatever method you choose, you will surely get the result you want. Just make sure that you do not leave a cream cheese out in the open for more than 3 hours, or you’ll waste some decent cheese.
I hope you find this article helpful. If you have any questions or suggestions, feel free to sound your mind and fire up the comment section below.
Cheers to a softer and creamier cream cheese!