We are a nerdery that celebrates diversity in the geek world. What better way than to make rainbow cream cheese for Hudson’s Pride weekend? I identify as queer (and have done for many years), so there was no question that we’d have rainbows all over the place for the celebration. With the Awesome Bagels that we carry, it was only natural to think about some way of Pride-ifying them! We first started with cupcakes – to test our methodology. And honestly, the cupcakes came out SO WELL that we’ll be continuing to carry them through the rest of June. They may make an appearance further down the line as well!
Our food is very simple. Good ingredients with few or no additives, the freshest options possible, and a good dose of attention to detail. We tested a couple of different cream cheeses, including a highly rated and fairly expensive one, before coming back to the old favorite, Philadelphia. Only five ingredients, a perfectly creamy texture, and the traditional cream cheese flavors that we all expect. To lighten up the cheese a little, we whipped it with a dash of Stonyfield whipping cream (it’s the same one we use in our cupcake frosting). Throw four blocks of the cream cheese in a stand mixer, add 3-4T of cream, and beat it (beat it, beat it, beat it…).
Eventually it ends up with this amazingly fluffy texture which is absolutely perfect for tinting. We could have mixed up each of the seven colors of the rainbow, but we found an easier way: mix four colors, then blend them once they were on the bagels. It made for a quicker prep, and didn’t add any time or effort to our final product.
We used a gel/paste color – powder would be even better. Anything that doesn’t increase the moisture content will make for a better, brighter, more even color. Please don’t use liquid dye. It’s easy to find in supermarkets, yes, but it results in pale, barely-there color as well as changing the texture of the base. In the cafe, we use the AmeriColor gels, which give wonderfully deep colors. These are professional grade colorants, which are easier to use (and maybe a bit more expensive) than the classic Wilton – but they do require more blending of tints to achieve the goal colors. We found this pack on sale at the King Arthur Flour website.
Once the cream cheese is whipped, portion it evenly into bowls. Mix the color in until it’s smooth and even toned – go ahead and add an extra dollop of gel, if you feel the need. Sometimes it takes more than you originally thought, to get the right color. Heck, we kept some of the cream cheese as white, to have the option of diluting if the colors were too brash!
Once the colors are mixed, it’s time to bag them up.
For the original frosting, we used a classic method of creating multi-color icing. We spooned out each color in parallel lines on a piece of saran wrap, then wrapped it up and dropped it, point-first, into a bag. Clip the corner, and go to town. For the cream cheese, we decided to do it a little differently. We gave each color its own bag, piped them individually onto the bagels, then used a knife to spread and mix the colors to make the rainbow. It gave us quite a bit of control, and meant that we were able to create exactly the colors we needed while skipping a messy (and in this case spurious) step.
Our first test came out beautifully – but we knew we could do better. So we created a second bagel, which was a sight to behold! All day, we made rainbow bagels and celebrated an inclusive Pride here in Hudson. It was a bright and shiny weekend, with a colorful parade.
We know there’s still a lot of work to be done. Pride can be more inclusive, and the LGBT+ community can become more welcoming. But in the meantime, we can create new flags that are more representative of the various identities within our community, and we can eat rainbow bagels. Or pumpernickel bagels with rainbow cream cheese.