TO MAKE The Best Cake I’ve Ever Had / THE CREAM CHEESE BUTTERCREAM FROSTING : Place the cream cheese in the bowl of a mixer and beat on medium speed until slightly fluffy and smooth.

Add the butter 2 Tbsp at a time, mixing until smooth. Add the powdered sugar and vanilla and mix until fluffy. Set aside at room temperature.

Combine the granulated sugar and water in a small heavy saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Continue to cook, without stirring, until the syrup reaches the soft-ball stage, 240°F [115°C] on a candy thermometer.

Meanwhile, put the egg whites in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. When the syrup is ready, turn the mixer to medium-low speed and begin beating the egg whites.

Slowly add the hot syrup to the whites, taking care not to pour it directly onto the beater, or it may splash out of the bowl and burn you. When all of the syrup is incorporated, raise the speed to medium-high and beat until the egg white mixture has cooled to body temperature and a stiff meringue forms.

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