In my vast experience with bagels, I've decided there are two types of people. Butter people and cream cheese people. If you're a butter person, please leave immediately. Because we are talking about cream cheese here. That beautiful block of cream cheese in the silver foil is the Queen of Dairy Products.
Sure you can purchase something called spreadable soft cream cheese and even whipped cream cheese. But there is something about that beloved block of cream cheese that just screams "recipe possibilities!"
Cream cheese is so versatile. Many sweet recipes call for cream cheese like no-bake cheesecakes, cream cheese frosting, carrot cake, cinnamon rolls, and even ice cream. Savory dishes include egg bakes, veggie appetizer dips, and pasta dishes.
The Key to Cream Cheese Recipe Success
Almost all recipes call for softened cream cheese. Softened cream cheese simply means that your package of cream cheese is room temperature, ensuring that your recipe is lump free and creamy as possible for the best texture - no matter what you're cooking.
Don't panic if you forgot to take that block of cream cheese out of the refrigerator in time to start making the frosting for your famous carrot cake. There are some shortcuts to get your cream cheese ready for culinary transformation.
Let Your Cream Cheese Sit at Room Temperature
Allow an average 8 ounce package of cream cheese to sit out on the kitchen countertop at room temperature for one hour. Unwrap the foil and cover the block of cream cheese loosely in plastic wrap.
To soften even faster, cut the block into 1 inch cubes and cover loosely with plastic wrap. Check after a half hour.
Soften In A Hurry With The Microwave Method
If you can't spare an hour for the room temperature method, microwaving cream cheese is the best way to soften cream cheese in a hurry. Remove all packaging and put block on a microwave safe plate. Use high power for 20 seconds total (30 seconds for two blocks) in 5 second increments. Avoid microwaving more than two 8 ounce packages at the same time.
Warm Water Bath
A bowl of hot water is another great way to soften cream cheese. You can use hot water from your sink or warm it up on the stove top. A bowl of warm water works best with just one package of cream cheese at a time. Just place foil wrapped block of cream cheese in the water for about 15 minutes. Replace warm water every 10 minutes if necessary.
Can I Leave Cream Cheese Out Overnight?
Nope. Cream Cheese can spoil fast. Bacteria can begin to grow on any soft cheeses after only two hours unrefrigerated.