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Cream cheese cupcakes are small cakes with cream cheese either in the batter, as a filling, or in the frosting. They usually measure between 2 inches (5 centimeters) and 4 inches (10 centimeters) across, though miniature cupcakes may be as small as 1 inch (2.5 centimeters) in diameter. The cream cheese provides a rich, tart element that complements the sweetness of many cake recipes. Though not all recipes contain actual cream cheese, there are a number of additional flavors that often accompany this type of cupcake. In addition, other specialty varieties exist that utilize the cream cheese flavor.
Cupcakes made with cream cheese may contain a cheesecake mixture in the cake itself. This mixture uses eggs, sugar, and flavoring agents like vanilla to produce a fluffier end product. Bakers may swirl the cream cheese through the cake batter, use it as a filling, or add a cream cheese layer to the top of the cupcake before baking.
Only a few recipes for this treat include plain cream cheese. Most cream cheese cupcakes add sugar, eggs, flavoring, or other dairy products to the cheese, rather than using it by itself. When cream cheese is used alone, bakers often press it into the top of an unbaked cupcake and top it with jam, fruit or another strongly-flavored ingredient. This provides contrast and prevents the cream cheese flavor from overwhelming the more delicate cake.
Common flavors combined with cream cheese in cupcakes include chocolate, pumpkin, strawberries and other fruits, and vanilla. Less common additions include coffee, jalapeño peppers, and exotic fruits such as guava. Fresh fruit works best when it is applied after the cupcake is finished baking, since it tends to weep in the oven. When the fruit must be cooked, bakers often use jam, preserves, or syrups.
Some bakers make cream cheese cupcakes that contain cream cheese only in the frosting, which is usually vanilla-flavored. It tends to accompany red velvet, chocolate, and carrot cakes, but can be used on any kind of cake with a strong flavor. Cream cheese frosting is relatively sweet, but has a tangy note that buttercream and egg white frostings lack.
Cheesecake cupcakes are a type of cream cheese cupcake that contains no cake element at all. These miniature cheesecakes can be cooked in the same pan as a normal cupcake, or in individual ramekins. They often require a water bath to prevent cracks or an inconsistent texture. Some cheesecake-style cream cheese cupcakes include fruit or chocolate pieces inside the cheesecake portion for an added flavor element.
Since cream cheese is a high-fat ingredient, most cupcakes made with it are energy-dense. Some recipes use low-fat cream cheese to make the cupcake healthier, but the eggs, butter, and oil in most cupcakes make them fatty and highly caloric. Vegans and people with dairy sensitivities can substitute vegan cream cheese, made from soybeans, for traditional dairy cream cheese.
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