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Chocolate Peanut Butter Tart & 3 Years of Indigo

  There was laughter, maybe a bit of drizzle, a definite chill in the air, and I was full of energy.  Words and ideas and silly jokes tumbled out of my mouth, loosened with a little help from some liquids.  I considered the cracked sidewalk of the college campus I had walked just a short year before as a student, and I smiled at the few people present who knew both the student and non-student Ello.

  As they always seem to do in these situations, my suddenly quick feet took me more than a few yards ahead of the group, and I turned around to jog backwards and shoot them some sass.  While doing this, my attentions were suddenly captured by the remark of one equally tongue-loosened fellow.

  "I like it when you talk, Ello."

  Because I'm generally a pretty quiet girl, this made me incredibly happy.  Knowing that people not only heard my voice, but also appreciated it.

  I've always had a bit of trouble expressing myself, growing up and whatnot.  But when I started this blog I found something unique.  The power of words and how I can actually take the millions of feelings inside of me and make them into something special/relatable.  And at the same time, I can do what I love, baking.  Somehow I discovered that weaving together food, thoughts, and photography was just what I was born for.  And even if that never continues past this little corner of the web, then so be it, I could not be happier with what I've built this far.  My first year of school broke me out of my shell a whole lot.  It continues to amaze me that people think this is that impressive.  I'm just a lost young adult like so many others, and I happen to find therapy in doing all of this.

  So yes, Indigo Scones is three years old.  Three years ago a bored junior in high school slapped together some scones and wrote about it.  
  Two years ago, senioritis set in and I inadvertently forgot to post on the actual day of my blogiversary.  But a belated celebration with some cupcakes made up for it entirely.
  And one year ago, December 16 was in the midst of my first ever round of college finals, and blogiversary-ing was only barely acknowledged in a rather late post with a hella good pancake.
  And today, today we find a totally different girl who has more than enough time on her hands to speculate on the last few years of blogging.

  As far as the actual food subject here goes, there is a little story behind why I chose this tart.  Nearly two years ago now I was part of a facebook group called Sundays with Joy, where we were baking up all the recipes in Joy's first book.  The week of the tart was a bad flop for me.  I tried to do a chocolate peanut butter spin and while my swirling work was admittedly impressive, the end result was not so great.  You can read about that here.

  I promised in that post to redeem myself, to bring back the tart that got me down.  And, well, I figured that a blogiversary is reason enough to do that.

  Don't be fooled by the time-consuming chilling processes involved, this tart is in fact remarkably easy to put together.  The swirl may even be the easiest part, it just happens to look extremely impressive.

  Another truth is that I ate 2 or 3 pieces of this sans fork and plate while feeling extremely overwhelmed by the events of this past year.  Indigo's birthday happens to coincide with the holidays and the inevitable end of the year, so I tend to get rather reflective around the middle of December.

  It's just crazy to me that a year is done.  Just done.  I'm in such a different place right now than I was 365 days ago.

  But let's talk Indigo now.  Let's take a peek at some old writings and see what we've got for the top 10 posts of all time, because I just love a good dose of nostalgia.

  #1 is very appropriately one of the best scones I've ever made.  These Blueberry Scones have gone crazy on Pinterest and are still a huge source of traffic, despite their 2.5 year old status.  Never in a million years would I have guessed this simplistic recipe to be at the top of my blog.

  #2 I set out to make the perfect balance of Nutella and cookie, and after much trial and error I emerged victorious with these Nutella Chocolate Chip Cookies.

  #3 In a similar series of events I tried to find what I could call the Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookie.  And this cake-y, chewy, sea salt-topped beauty totally outshone the original Wakefield's recipe I grew up with.

  #4 Once upon a time I was asked to do a guest post by one of my favorite food bloggers ever.  I managed to stop jumping up and down long enough to make these fantastic Baked Nutella Doughnuts.

  #5 My dad's birthday brought about the creation of this beauteous Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cake.

  #6 I decided to heck with rice krispies when I needed an Oscar-theme-appropriate treat.  Enter Brown Butter Marshmallow Popcorn Bars, who knew they'd rise to such fame?

  #7 I needed a chocolate fix and I needed it fast.  Enter these super satisfying mounds of Giant Double Chocolate Cookies.

  #8 A bad case of the Mondays got me all DIY just so I could get a minty freshness out of a crappy day.  DIY Shamrock Shake, no shame here.

  #9 These cupcakes marked my entrance into adulthood, and firmly established my extreme love for all things Oreo.  Cookies and Cream Cupcakes for the win.

  #10 No-Yeast Cinnamon Roll Muffins, cuz sometimes you need cinnamon rolls and you need them NOW.  The internet clearly backs me up on this, seeing as it's the 10th most popular post on my blog.

  There are all the stats, but as far as the heart of it goes, I want to make an honorable mention to some of my personal favorite posts.  I had a few this year where the words just sort of flowed out of me, and they hold pieces of me I couldn't express in any other way.

  An Irish Apple Cake with Salted Caramel Glaze got me on a reminiscent spiel about family orchard trips.

  Deep Dish Apple Pie for One was a tough write, but a necessary realization of facts and some unprofessional wonderings on young love.

  Ice Cream with Coffee Grounds will forever hold a special place in my heart, it is a fond remembrance of one of the only friends I made in Arizona.

  This Fresh Fig Breakfast Cake documented the longest road trip I've ever taken, and the sensation of tasting my first sun-warmed fig picked right off of a neighboring tree.

  And last but not least, this adorable Mini Tiered Red Velvet Macaroon Cake introduced me to the beginning of my 20s, and what exactly that means to me.

  And then there's this Chocolate Peanut Butter Tart.  Simple, elegant, and entirely capable of satisfying that peanut butter cup craving.  

  Three years after Indigo Scones's first post I find myself in a fixer-upper mobile home, sitting on a heat vent and babysitting a year-old dog that is more or less cuddling/shoving me over to get more airflow.  I'm out of school, temporarily unemployed, and  I don't know how all of this even happened.  I also don't know where next year's blogiversary will find me.  But I do know that I am incredibly grateful to have this blog, that I have a way to make my voice heard, and that somehow there are those of you that enjoy hearing it.

  Happy birthday, Indigo, here's to many many more.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Tart
Yield: one 9-inch tart

Ingredients for the crust:
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • ¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • ¼ tsp. salt
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 8 tbsp. unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 2 tbsp. heavy cream

Ingredients for the filling:
  • ¾ cup creamy peanut butter, divided
  • 5 oz. semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
  • ¾ cup heavy cream

To make the crust, combine the flour, cocoa powder, and salt in a small bowl.  Whisk to blend.  In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugar on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, 2-3 minutes.  Blend in the egg and vanilla.  With the mixer on low speed, add in the dry ingredients alternating with the cream, beginning and ending with the flour mixture.  The dough will be quite soft.  Transfer the dough to a piece of plastic wrap, form into a rectangle, and wrap tightly.  Chill until firm, at least 1 hour and up to 2 days.

Transfer the chilled dough to a well floured work surface.  Roll the dough out into a circle about 12 inches in diameter.  Trim away any excess.  Lay the dough in a 9″ round tart pan, carefully lowering the sides down to fit in the bottom corners.  Press the dough firmly against the edges and into the bottom corners, and use your fingers to “cut” the excess dough off the top by pressing it against the sides of the pan.  Prick all over the surface of the dough with the tines of a fork.  Freeze the lined tart pan until the dough is firm, about 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350˚ F.  Line the crust with parchment paper and fill with baking beads, dried beans, or rice.  Bake until the edges are set, about 20 minutes.  Remove the weights and parchment and bake 5-10 minutes more, until dry and set.  Let cool completely, about 30 minutes.

To make the filling, place ½ cup of the peanut butter in a small microwave-safe bowl.  Heat until fluid, about 20-30 seconds.  Pour into the bottom of the tart crust and smooth into an even layer.  Freeze until the peanut butter is firm, about 20 minutes.  

Place the chopped chocolate in a medium bowl.  Bring the cream just to a boil.  Pour over the chocolate and let sit 1-2 minutes.  Meanwhile, heat the remaining ¼ cup of peanut butter until fluid.  Transfer to a plastic bag.  Whisk the chocolate mixture together until a smooth ganache forms.  Pour the ganache into the tart shell in an even layer.  Snip a small tip off of the corner of the plastic bag and pipe the peanut butter in diagonal lines on top of the ganache.  Use a toothpick, skewer, or butterknife to marble them gently together.  Chill until well set, at least 1 hour and up to 8 hours (any longer and the peanut butter tends to start melding with the chocolate too much, which is what happened to mine before pictures hahaaaa).  Slice and serve.

Sources: adapted from Annie's Eats and Brittany Powell, originally from Martha Stewart


Greek Kalamata Feta Rolls

  I am currently of the belief that sticking Kalamata olives and feta cheese into a dish automatically makes it Greek.  These rolls are, by no means, an authentic/traditional Greek fare.  I don't wanna get in trouble.  But, I'm also not going to say that these wouldn't be fantastic with a good glass of wine and a bowl of Dijon by the Mediterranean Sea.  So do with that what you will.

  My brain conjured up this totally savory affair when Joy the Baker posted her next Baking Bootcamp challenge.  I was a bundle of nerves making these for some reason, convinced that it was too far-fetched of an idea and that the flavors just wouldn't mingle well.

  Oh boy was I wrong.  Have a little faith, Ell.  Beauty was created.

  Let me walk you through real quick.

  The starter has risen overnight to create a super-yeasty aromatic bundle of goodness.  The starter is mixed with more ingredients to form a dough, which is allowed to rise for a couple hours.  After that, the dough is pressed and stretched into something like a rectangle.  Upon this rectangle we heap cheese, olives, and fresh oregano.  It's the opposite of cinnamon-sugaring in the best way possible.  Heck yes.  It's like a big ol' Greek pizza, but it's about to get crazier.

  Becauseeee we're rolling up the dough from the long side and then cutting it into six adorable rolls/loaves.  Little rolls that you'll want to cuddle and individually name.  Too weird...?

  Throw them in that obscure non 9x13-inch casserole dish you have lying around just for these kinds of occasions, then cover them up until they get puffy but aren't yet doubled in size.  We're just letting them rest for a bit.

  Oh, pro tip from Joy, spread out those tops so you can expose that lovely filling a little more. 

  With a bit of help from some egg wash, we create some golden rolls of goodness.  

  These rolls made me very grateful.  They are the perfect mid-afternoon indulgence when you just aren't feeling a big dinner.  They are to be savored with friends, parents, and whoever else is around when you pull them magically from the oven.  Dipped in Dijon, just plain, with a glass of somethin', whatever.  Get creative.

  And I swear there is some kind of magic to bread making.  The process of rising, mixing, kneading, and rolling is just so real.  You find yourself sitting with the finished product, your hands pulling apart the perfect spiral you created, and marveling that it all happened because of you.  Because you took the time to do something all from scratch, because you definitely deserve to take the time to do that once in awhile.

  Here's to good rolls, recycling clementine crates, and indulging once in awhile.  Many thanks to Joy for somehow managing to continually push me out of my baking comfort zone, I've really enjoyed these challenges.

  Also, just humor me here while I post too many pictures because I'm kind of in love with how they turned out.  No shame.

Greek Kalamata Feta Rolls
Yield: 6 large rolls

Ingredients for the starter:
  • 1 1/4 cups King Arthur Unbleached Bread Flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon instant yeast
  • 1/2 cup warm water

Ingredients for the dough:
  • All of the starter
  • 1 cup + 2 tablespoons to 1 1/4 cups lukewarm water
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 1/2 cups King Arthur Unbleached Bread Flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon instant yeast

Ingredients for the filling:
  • 1 1/4 cups crumbled feta cheese
  • 1 1/4 cups grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 heaping cup coarsely chopped Kalamata olives
  • 2 tablespoons fresh chopped oregano (dried will also work in a pinch)

  • One egg, beaten for egg wash
  • Good Dijon mustard for serving, if desired

To make the starter, mix the 1 1/4 cups flour, salt, yeast, and 1/2 cup water in a large measuring cup or small bowl.  Mix till well combined; the starter will be very dry.  Cover and let rest overnight at room temperature; it'll become bubbly.

To make the dough, combine the risen starter with the water, salt, flour, and yeast.  Stir until thick and well combined in a bowl then dump onto a well floured work surface to knead by hand until soft, smooth, and elastic; about 8 to 10 minutes.  Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl, cover, and let it rise for 1 1/2 to 2 hours, until doubled in size.

Gently punch down to deflate the dough, then dump onto a lightly floured work surface.  Pat and stretch it into a 1/2"-thick rectangle, about 10" x 14".  Use your finger tips and hands to stretch out the dough.  No rolling pin required.  Sprinkle the dough with the feta, parmesan, chopped olives, and fresh oregano, leaving about a 1 inch border on one long side of the dough so you can seal it after rolling.

Starting with the long side of the dough the opposite of your 1-inch border, roll it into a log, pinching the seam to seal.  Place the log, seam-side down on a lightly floured surface.  Gently cut the log in half, then cut each half into thirds to create 6 rolls.  Place them in a large, greased casserole dish (or on greased baking sheets) cut side up.  Use your fingers to press the rolls down and spread them open a bit to more fully expose the cheese and olives.

Cover loosely with a clean kitchen towel and let it rise for 45 minutes-1 hour until it's puffy but not necessarily doubled in size.  Towards the end of the rising time, place a rack in the upper third of the oven and preheat the oven to 425°F.

Lightly brush loaves with egg wash and place in the oven to bake.  Bake for 20 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and the loaves are a very deep golden brown.  Remove them from the oven, and cool on a rack for about half an hour before serving.  Some good Dijon mustard is recommended for dipping.  Rolls will last, well wrapped at room temperature for up to 4 days.  They are best reheated gently in the oven or toasted before serving.

Sources: adapted from Joy the Baker and King Arthur Flour


Salted Peanut Butter Pretzel Cookies

  There are quite a few things that run through my head late at night, and a lot of times they have something to do with food.  I've gotten some of my best recipe ideas right before I fall asleep, sometimes even in my dreams, ya know.

  Anyway, I was visualizing pressing down peanut butter cookie dough with a fork, creating that lovely criss cross pattern.  Somehow this segued into pressing down cookie dough with a pretzel...and then sprinkling on a little extra sea salt.

  I might be the only one who thinks this is the best idea ever, and I did end up using a fork to flatten the dough initially anyway, but salflksdg;hasdlcken;aoishegea.sde.

  These were really freaking good.

  I went ahead an used a new cookie recipe, and with just the right amount of baking the cookies came out incredibly soft and delightful.  The pretzels stayed intact, and the salt really brought out the peanut butter.  The crunch of the pretzel against the velvet-y cookie is just....UGH.  I can't.
  I know a lot of people roll their cookies in sugar before baking, but I skipped that because I was really going for the sweet & salty route.  And now I don't think I can ever really go back...

  My peanut-butter-cookie-hating mother and sister would not stop eating these, I had to reserve this plate so I had something to actually take pictures of.  These barely lasted a day, my friends.

  What these have to do with Thanksgiving fare I could not tell you, but our holiday is very much up there on the chill scale this year and I just couldn't wait to share these delightful things.

  And I am a thankful girl.  Friends, family, crazy late night food ideas and all that jazz.  These cookies are proof that my creative juices are yet flowing, and that's always an encouragement for me.  The last few posts have definitely been a little more in depth, so I'm thinking it's a good move to just give you a new idea and some pretty pictures and be done with it.  Happy days, my friends, don't stress too much but do eat lots.

Salted Peanut Butter Pretzel Cookies
Yield: about 15-20 cookies

  • 1 1/2 cups + 1 tablespoon flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup (1 sticks) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature*
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 large egg, room temperature 
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup creamy peanut butter (such as JIF Creamy)
  • Pretzels and coarse sea salt, for topping

In a medium bowl, toss the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt together.

Using a hand mixer or a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the softened butter and both sugars together on medium speed until smooth.  Add the egg and mix on high until combined, about 1 minute.  Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl as needed.  Add the vanilla and peanut butter and mix on high until combined.  Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix on low until combined.  Dough will be thick, yet very sticky.  Cover dough tightly and chill for at least 3 hours (and up to 2 days) in the refrigerator.  This is super important, so the dough can hold its own in the hot oven later.

When you're ready to bake, preheat oven to 350F degrees.  Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats.  

Roll balls of dough (about 1 tablespoon per cookie), place 2 inches apart on the baking sheets.  Press fork into the tops to slightly flatten and create the criss-cross pattern.  Top each cookie with a pretzel and sprinkle with sea salt.  

Bake for 9-11 minutes, rotating pans halfway through baking, or until the cookies are very lightly browned on the sides.  The centers will look very soft and undone, that's what we want!  Remove from the oven and let cool on baking sheet for about 10 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.  Cover cookies and store at room temperature for up to 1 week.  Baked cookies and rolled cookie dough freeze well, up to 3 months.

Sources: cookie recipe slightly adapted from Sally's Baking Addiction, pretzel idea an Indigo Scones original


Mini Tiered Red Velvet Macaroon Cake

  Hello hello hello.  Guess what? 

  I'm in my 20s!  Yay!  Not 21, just 20, but yay!  That's kinda cool, kinda weird.

  I had a rough week last week, I've been having some up and downs in general.  But right now, right now is good.  I've had a quote stuck in my head lately that goes along the lines of "Wherever you are, be all there."  I guess it's a live in the moment kind of thing, but just a wee bit more introspective than YOLO.  I get into bad habits of worrying, fretting, and all that.  Then I find myself looking back and realizing I never let myself enjoy the really good times I have had as much as I could've, either because I didn't realize how good they really were at the time or because I was busy thinking of something else my daydreaming worrying brain conjured.  

  So EFF THAT let's eat cake and sit in cafes and watch grumpy little Wisconsin-ers dash about in the first flurries of snow.  Sometimes Starbucks is my saving grace, there is almost nothing a good dose of people watching can't fix.

  It's so weird to think that just last year I was celebrating my 19th in a dorm, halfway trying to have a good time with everyone.  I remember sitting in my 9:30 AM English class the morning of and thinking of the story about how a girl got broken up with on facebook in the middle of class, and ran out crying.  Thus, the professor explained her ban of computers for note-taking.  At the time I had laughed with everyone else, but just then I felt a strong sympathy for that girl.  I spent the rest of the day with sweet people that trekked to Culver's to buy me an ice cream cake (and we're talking broke college students), and I was feeling a little stronger just then.

  A year later I'm not sure what to make of all of it still, it's a season of life I can't wrap my head around and somehow can't believe is over.

  I was told recently that I have a tendency towards the daydream-y romantic state of being, and for once it wasn't in a mocking fashion.  Maybe that makes me hard to date, but maybe that's just quite alright for now.  Because I'm so detail-oriented and super fricken ultra sensitive, I notice a lot of things most don't.  Granted, I still trip over crap and hit the curb once in awhile, but I think that's a different set of senses...
Anyway, between that and a filtered reading of this article I found, I think I'm starting to be ok with myself and my fluctuating tendencies.

  So I'm embracing things a bit more.  Like how my idea of a perfect birthday is spending the day in a kitchen making my own cake, half-ignoring my phone and the obligations that go along with it, and then celebrating the night hours with some really good Irish food and awesome awesome friends.  And I was even okay with the few that bailed on plans, because I've learned the hard way that you can't invest your happiness in people and things and feelings that just aren't there.  

  So for my birthday I went red again, embracing a darker version of the color I sported for most of my solo college year.  I'm letting my hair grow out and do it's thing, even when it gets pretty wild.  People seem to like it like that, and to be honest, I kinda do too.  With the return of the red I thought of this deep red cake that the genius Molly Yeh came up with, and I decided to put my own spin on it, because somehow traditional birthday cake and I just don't really fly.

  I honestly couldn't be happier with how it came out.  It's a slightly toppling, imperfect, unique little cake.  It's the right amount for just a handful of special people.  The tangy red velvet flavor is captured perfectly and the whole thing is basically a big, super coconut-y macaroon with fluffy vanilla bean cream cheese frosting.

  I used a 6-inch pan for the bottom layer, and then greased a 2 and 3-inch biscuit cutter for the next two layers, wrapping the bottom and sides of the cutters with a decently-sized piece of foil so nothing would ooze out the bottom.  And it worked! :D

  This took comparatively little time to come together, and the tiny layers are very ideal to work with.  But if you aren't feeling all the fussiness, this can also make a single 8-inch cake.  Also, I went for a rustic look and didn't frost the sides, because this thing is reallly really rich!  But not so rich that I didn't have a few forkfuls for breakfast the next day, ya know...

  So happity birthday to my up and down self that feels both the good and bad ever so much, I wonder where I'll be celebrating this time next year?  Ain't life an adventure.

Find the sun, force the moon
Loose the earth
For dreams come to those who let them in their guarded room
Open wide your winged-eye
Spirit drives – to catch your truth
For spirit thrives where darkness comes to challenge you
Be more than words
Be more than strength and kind
Be love and blind
To those who come to you
Sing something new
Belief is wet and ghost
Yet, loves the most of what we do
Don’t cast away, don’t cast away
Don’t let them cast a role for you

-Future Islands sings what I can't say

Mini Tiered Red Velvet Macaroon Cake
Yield: one mini tiered cake, or one 8 or 9-inch layer

Ingredients for the cake:
  • One 14-ounce bag sweetened, shredded coconut
  • 1 cup sweetened condensed milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 tablespoon red food coloring
  • 2 large egg whites
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

Ingredients for the frosting*:
  • 8 ounces cream cheese, chilled
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • Big pinch of salt
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • One vanilla bean, split lengthwise 
  • Sprinkles for decorating
*You're going to have a little leftover frosting, sorry/not sorry, I like to play it safe

To make the cake, preheat oven to 375 F.  Grease one 6-inch cake pan and line the bottom with parchment (grease parchment as well), then grease a 2 and 3-inch circular biscuit cutter and wrap the outside and bottom with a piece of foil, grease the foil as well.  Set the biscuit cutters onto a baking sheet.  Alternatively, grease an 8-inch cake pan and line bottom with parchment, grease the parchment as well.  

In a large bowl, mix together the coconut, condensed milk, vanilla, cocoa powder, and food coloring.  In a separate bowl, combine the egg whites and salt.  Beat the eggs using an electric mixer until stiff peaks form, about 3 minutes.  Gently fold the egg whites into the coconut mixture, about 1/3 of them at a time, and then distribute the batter evenly among the pan(s), spreading it out with a spatula for a smooth top.  Be sure to place the pan with the biscuit cutters near the top 1/3 of the oven, because the foil-lined bottoms will burn a little.  Luckily, you can cut them off later!  Bake for 30-45 minutes, keeping in mind that the smaller layers will get done first, or until the tops begin to brown.

Let cakes cool in the pan for about 10 minutes, then run a butterknife around the edges to loosen.  Turn the 6-inch cake out onto a wire rack, then unwrap the foil from the biscuits cutters and gently pop out the little cakes to cool as well.  When the cakes cool, you may find that the foil-lined ones burned a bit at the bottom (especially with a gas oven), simply slice them off with a large, sharp knife.  

You can frost the cake and eat it as soon as it’s cooled to room temperature, or you can wrap the layers individually in plastic wrap and stick them in the freezer overnight before decorating (they can also be prepared in advance and kept in the freezer for up to a week). 

To make the frosting, in the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, blend the cream cheese on medium speed.  The cream cheese should be as soft and smooth as possible.  Stop the mixer and add the softened butter.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl and beat the two together over medium speed until smooth and incorporated.  Add one cup of powdered sugar.  Blend on low until incorporated.  Scrape the vanilla beans from the pod into the mixing bowl, discard the pod.  Add remaining cup of powdered sugar and mix on low until incorporated.  Increase to medium high speed and beat until frosting is smooth and silky.

Frost and decorate as desired!  Enjoy.