Pumpkin bars

Photo: Ben Fink

Give Bar Cookies an Edge You Never Knew They Needed
Although we have no qualms about taking a finger swipe of cream cheese frosting and eating it straight up (don't judge!), there's a reason the sweet icing goes so well with red velvet and spiced carrot cakes: It's a welcome flavor contrast. The same concept holds true for deep, dark chocolate brownies, such as these cocoa ones; and pumpkin spice bars (this recipe shows you how to make a lighter version of the beloved icing).

Photo: Lynn Andriani

Eat It with Cookies (Without Making a Mess)
We've seen all manner of whoopie pies stuffed with cream cheese frosting, from red velvet to pumpkin to chocolate. But while the beloved dessert relies on thin cakes to form the outer sandwich layers and to keep that precious icing safe, you can hack the treat with any kind of cookie, really. Oatmeal raisin cookies echo carrot cake with their cinnamon and raisins (as well as with their hardy texture). Or go out on a limb and pair these cream cheese-chocolate chip cookies (which also feature cream cheese and zesty orange) with the frosting; the citrus and cream are fantastic together.
Frosted quick bread

Photo: Thinkstock

Reinvent Quick Breads and Cakes
Now that you know how well cream cheese frosting plays with spices like cinnamon, allspice and cloves, it makes perfect sense to spread the icing atop slices of apple cake, zucchini bread or gingerbread—which all have spiced notes. And while banana bread doesn't fall under the spice-cake umbrella, the fruit imparts a rich caramel taste that pairs well with cream cheese frosting's light flavor.
Waffles with cream cheese

Photo: Lynn Andriani

Turn Breakfast into a Celebration
We've seen red velvet pancakes and carrot cake waffles—but even if you're sticking with the traditional versions of those classic breakfast foods, a dab of cream cheese frosting can take them to new levels of indulgence (also try it spread on scones, such as these maple ones).
Apples with cream cheese

Photo: Lynn Andriani

Take Chips and Dips to a New Level
A bowl of cream cheese frosting served with some sort of dipper might just be the easiest dessert we've ever made. Apple slices hold up well to sturdy frosting, as do pretzels and cinnamon pita chips. More delicious snacks to try: Strawberries, chocolate chip granola bars or thick-cut potato chips.