Slice of homemade carrot cake with cream cheese frosting, side view table scene against dark wood

Cream cheese frosting is about as close to perfection as possible. It's rich enough to add decadence to any dessert, yet subtle enough to pair with dense, flavorful cakes. Here are some of the best pairings.

Carrot Cake

Cream cheese frosting adds a richness and grounded flavor to carrot cake, which has a strong taste. Layer 1 1/2–inch sections of cake with thin layers of cream cheese icing to distribute the flavor and keep the cake moist. Top with a fluffy layer of icing and a few carrot shreds.

Red Velvet Cake

The deep chocolaty flavor of red velvet is a perfect match for cream cheese frosting, the traditional icing of this southern cake. Add a bit more vanilla to the cream cheese recipe to complement the flavors of the cocoa in the cake.

Caramel Cake

Whip up some caramel cream cheese frosting to ice a white cake or caramel cake. If using the latter, it's best to cut the sweetness of the frosting so it doesn't overpower the cake—use less powdered sugar and more cream cheese.

Banana Cake

With a texture similar to carrot cake, banana cake is also great with cream cheese icing. This cake can be paired with a sweeter or denser version of the icing or even caramel cream cheese frosting. Top with walnuts to round out the flavors. It's best made a day in advance; keep the cake covered and refrigerated.