Mardi Gras King Cake Cupcakes

Happy Mardi Gras, y’all! During Carnival time, the only thing that comes close to my love of drinking daiquiris on the parade route is my love of eating king cake… lots and lots of king cake. There is something about purple, green and gold sugar that just tastes better.

Since I moved away from New Orleans, it has been impossible to find king cake to satisfy my craving. I wanted to make a traditional cake, but I waited to start baking until 10 p.m,. and apparently you have to let most recipes rise for two hours. Instead, I found a few recipes for king cake cupcakes (from Cupcake Project and Ptit Chef) that I adapted, and they turned out fabulously well.

Notes: If you have never tried king cake before, since the recipe uses yeast, the consistency is less like cake and more like a delicious cinnamon roll. I left out the baby because I didn’t have a creepy plastic baby lying around. You could also use a pecan half if you so desire.

Cupcake Ingredients:

2 packages (4 1/2 teaspoons) active dry yeast
1 2/3 cup milk
1/2 cup white sugar
1/4 cup butter
2 eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
5 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
Three small prep bowls of sugar, tinted with food coloring to be purple, green and gold

Filling Ingredients:

1 cup chopped sugared pecans (or if you have regular pecans, you could add brown sugar)
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup melted butter
Cinnamon to taste

Frosting Ingredients:

4 oz. cream cheese
4 oz. softened butter
2 cups confectioner’s sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla (if you have it; we were out, so I had to skip it)
A little cinnamon to taste

1. In a large bowl, dissolve the yeast in the milk and 1/4 cup of sugar. Let sit for 10 minutes until it is frothy.

2. Mix in the butter, eggs, salt and the other 1/4 cup of sugar (you can do this by hand or using a mixer). Add flour and mix until you have a soft ball of dough.

3. Cover with a towel and let the dough sit in a warm place for an hour until it doubles in size (I put the bowl in the slightly warmed oven with the door cracked.)

4. While the dough is rising, make the filling. Mix all the ingredients together and set aside.

5. When the dough is ready, turn it out onto a floured surface and roll into a large rectangle. Spread the filling in a line down the middle of the rectangle so it is covered evenly.

6. Fill two cupcake pans with cupcake liners. Roll the dough up so it forms a long cylinder. Cut off small pieces (about 1 1/2 to 2 inches) and place each in a cupcake liner. Bake at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes.

7. While the cupcakes are in the oven, make the frosting using a stand-up or handheld mixer. Mix all the ingredients until fluffy and smooth.

8. Cool the cupcakes, then frost and sprinkle with colored sugar.

9. Devour and enjoy!

I was so distracted by my sugar rush that I forgot to take a picture of the finished product. Photo credit goes to Meringue Bake Shop.

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9 Responses to Mardi Gras King Cake Cupcakes

  1. Brian says:

    I wil take full responsibility for eating the last one before it could be photographed. They were that good.

  2. Heather says:

    I forgot to take pictures of what I eat all the time. Related: I have no evidence of my first Dim Sum experience; there was just not time between the dumplings arriving at my table and the dumplings going into my mouth.

  3. Gilliebean says:

    I think part of the problem was the frosting all over my hands when I thought about getting my camera out. I’d much rather them be enjoyed anyway. I’ll have to make another batch before the end of Carnival season. Heather, I would never make it with dim sum either! Soooo good.

  4. [...] Mardi Gras King Cake Cupcakes – A yeasty cupcake almost more similar to a cinnamon roll than a cupcake. Normally I’d say no to frosting except for special occasions (I know, I know, I’m such a killjoy), but these cupcakes have so little sugar compared to flour (1/2 cup sugar vs. 5 and 1/2 cups flour) that I think the frosting is totally justified. Also I just love king cake, and any way I can get something like it is fine by me. There is some extra sugar in the candied pecans (or in a pecans/brown sugar mixture) but I think it really wouldn’t be more than 1/2 cup extra sugar, which still puts the unfrosted flour to sugar ratio at an uncommonly low 5 to 1. All white flour, but c’est la vie, and laissez les bon temps rouler while you’re at it. [...]

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