In a 1- to 1 1/2-quart pan over medium-high heat, bring maple syrup to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, swirling pan occasionally, until reduced by about a third, 10 to 12 minutes. Pour into a glass measure nested in a bowl of ice water and stir constantly until syrup is very thick and barely warm to touch, 3 to 4 minutes. Remove from ice water. In a bowl, with a mixer on low speed, beat cream cheese and butter until well blended. Beat in powdered sugar. Scrape in reduced syrup; beat until smooth.
I used this to decorate gingerbread cookies (CL Nov. 2006). I added just a little more powdered sugar and it seemed to set up just fine, or at least enough to pipe a small bead. I don't use maple syrup much, but when I ran out of cookies I wanted to eat the leftover frosting with a spoon! I imagine other flavors can be substituted for the maple syrup as well. I will definitely keep this recipe in mind the next time I need homemade frosting.
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