Trying to make a recipe that calls for cream cheese at room temperature and you have your cream cheese in the fridge? No worries at all. Try my easy tried and tested methods that tell you how to soften cream cheese.
When a recipe calls for softened cream cheese and you realize that you have chilled cream cheese in the fridge. What a bummer, right? Well, not any more. You can still get your hands on your recipe and make it in time as you don't need much time to bring it to room temperature.
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what is cream cheese
Cream cheese is one of the most commonly used dairy products in the world. It is basically made from milk and cream and is softer in texture with a mild flavor. It is commonly used in baking and cooking.
It was invented in the year 1872 by Philadelphia Cream Cheese company.
Who is not a fan of cream cheese? I love baking cakes and cheesecakes using cream cheese blocks in my favorite recipes just like my Strawberry Cheesecake and Cream Cheese Pound Cake. What is better than a homemade cheesecake?
Cream cheese is also great as a frosting due to its smooth texture just like in my Brownies with Cream Cheese Frosting and Cinnamon Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting. You can also incorporate it in milkshakes and make a great Cheesecake Milkshake. Other options are carrot cake, fruit dips and other savory dishes as well.
And of course, putting a big amount of cream cheese on a bagel in the breakfast is always my favorite.
why is it necessary to soften cream cheese for baking
The cold cream cheese straight out of the refrigerator is firm and solid and its hard to work with it. It may result in clumps and uneven texture in your bakes. To avoid the clumps, lumpy texture and to ensure a smooth consistency and best texture use the easy ways and quickest methods in this article to bring the brick of cream cheese to room temperature.
The room temperature for cream cheese is around 70 F and at this temperature when you press it using your finger you will still feel that it is a bit cold but there will be dent in the cream cheese as well indicating it has reached the room temperature.
Following are different ways to bring the cream cheese blocks or the tub to room temperature. I personally use cream cheese blocks frequently and that's why this article describes methods for cream cheese blocks and not the bucket.
quick methods to soften cream cheese
Here in this article I am sharing four methods that will make it easier for you to quickly soften a block of cream cheese and use it in the recipe accordingly. You can read and see the best way according to your ease and comfort.
method # 1 - countertop or outside the fridge
Time: 30 minutes - 2 hours
This first method is perhaps one of the most commonly used and classic way to soften the cream cheese. Take out the slabs or bucket of cream cheese and place it on your kitchen countertop. Let it sit there for a couple of hours and you'll see the cream cheese coming to the room temperature.
method # 2 - cubing cream cheese
Time: 30 - 45 minutes
Another easy and great way to bring the cream cheese to room temperature is to use the small cubes or small pieces method.
Take out the whole block of cream cheese out of the foil wrapping. Take a knife and cut the block in 10 small 1-inch cubes or bite sized pieces. This will ensure quick thawing of the cream cheese and is the easiest way to do so.
method # 3 - warm water bath
Time: 5 - 15 minutes
This is another easy and fastest method used to get the soft cream cheese. Take a large bowl of warm water and place the package of cream cheese into the bowl. Let it sit there for about 10 minutes. Check by pressing the cream cheese, if your finger goes inside easily then your cream cheese has softened properly. If not, let it sit in the water bath for another 5 - 10 minutes until it is soft enough.
Tip: Make sure that you are using a sealed package of cream cheese for this method or water can seep into the cream cheese and ruin the texture.
method # 4 - pressing with hands
Time: 10 - 20 minutes
This is one of the different methods I use to soften the cream cheese. However, as the hands get a work out, this is my least favorite method out of all as well.
Take out the package of cream cheese out of the fridge. Place the package between the palms of your hands and start pressing it by using one palm and then the other. Continue to do so for a few minutes until the cream cheese has softened.
method # 5 - microwave
Time: 1 - 1:30 minute
Remove the packaging of the cream cheese. Take it out and place it on a microwave-safe plate. Microwave on high power in 10-second increments for five times or two 30-second increments until the cream cheese is soft in texture.
Yes that's an option but I do not recommend it. By freezing the cream cheese you can increase its shelf life but the texture will change as well. Once the cream cheese block is out of the freezer and you leave it in the fridge or over the counter to thaw, it will change the texture of cream cheese, which can give you bad results in baking.
I wouldn't recommend it and would leave not leave it on the counter for more than 2 hours. The reason is that bacteria can start to grow on to the cream cheese after 2 hours at room temperature that you want to avoid.