King Cake, Take 2 …Cupcakes

I was searching through more king cake recipes and found one for cupcakes on the king Arthur Flour website.  This was immediately exciting to my kids because they both realized everyone could get their own “baby” (walnut) and luck for the year.   

Since I haven’t tasted anyone else’s king cake version, I still can’t compare.   This cake had a few of the elements of the crescent version – including the cream cheese frosting and the decorative colors.  However these may be my new go to vanilla cupcakes.  The cake was moist and the cream cheese frosting very versatile.  The few unique ingredients that are in a classic brioch like king cake and not in a classic vanilla cupcake are the addition of Fiori di Sicilia (a combo citrus and vanilla flavor) and nutmeg.  I made a few tweaks to the recipe I found online, as there was too much sugar in the frosting, which was plenty sweet enough.  I used a mixture of lemon oil and vanilla extract as I did not have Fiori di Sicilia.

These are great for a mardi gras party with kids, so no one gets left out of the luck.  Just be sure of any potential nut allergies if you use the walnut “baby”.Also good for a small goup or family, rather than making a whole cake.  You can even freeze cooked, unfrosted cupcakes to enjoy another day.  Here’s how to make them…

  Mardi Gras King Cupcakes

Yield: 12 cupcakes.

  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 2/3 cups unbleached all purpose flour
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 6 tablespoons soft butter
  • 2/3 cup milk, at room temperature
  • 1/4 teaspoon Fiori di Sicilia; OR 1 teaspoon vanilla + 1/8 teaspoon lemon oil
  • 2 large eggs


  • 3 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
  • 4 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/8 teaspoon lemon oil
  • 1 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • colored sugars, preferably purple, yellow, and green
1) Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line the muffin tins with papers, and spray the insides of the papers.
2)In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the sugar, flour, baking powder, nutmeg, and salt.
3) Cut butter into pieces and beat in with an electric mixer at low speed, until the mixture looks sandy.
4) Combine the milk and vanilla in a small bowl.  Add milk to butter mixture, all at once. Mix at low speed for 30 seconds, then increase the speed to medium and beat for 30 seconds. Scrape the bottom and sides of the mixing bowl.
5) With the mixer running at low speed, add 1 egg. Increase the speed to medium and beat for 30 seconds. Add the second egg, again beating for 30 seconds.
6) Scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl, and beat briefly, just till smooth.
7) Scoop the batter by heaping 1/4-cupfuls into the prepared muffin tin. A muffin scoop works well here.
8) Bake the cupcakes for 23 to 25 minutes, until they’ve domed, and are a light golden brown around the edges. They’ll spring back when pressed gently on top, and a toothpick inserted in the center will come out clean.
9) Remove the cupcakes from the oven, and place on a rack to cool completely before icing.
10) To make the icing: Combine the butter, cream cheese, vanilla, and lemon oil in a medium-sized bowl, and beat them together until light and fluffy.
11) Add the sugar gradually, beating well.
12)optional – you can 1 – 2 tsp. add milk if frosting is too thick.
13) Spread each cake with icing, and immediately dip in gold, purple, and green sparkling sugars, covering about 1/3 of the cupcake with each color sugar.
14) Store at room temperature for several days. For longer storage, wrap well and freeze.

King Cake Take 1

So remember I was going to research and test a King Cake?  Since I wanted to make my own, I decided to try the “simple version” first, as found on a few websites.  Some said to make the filling in a food processor to combine, but I omitted that step and just creamed the ingredients in a bowl.  Even easier.  Also most recipes are to serve a party of 8 – 12 (or even more).  This king cake was only going to my 4 member family, so I reduced ingredients for a smaller version.

I had to not overthink the quick version recipe.  I was going to have to buy cresent roll dough from a can.  I know I’m a snob.  I have never bought this myself however I remember having these many times as a kid and watching and helping my mom open the can and arrange them on baking sheets.  I now introduced my daughter to the can and how to bang it on the counter just right to get the dough to pop out.  She thought it was odd.  However she loved getting her hands in the dough and pinching seams to hold in the filling.  She also chose where to put the “baby” (we used a walnut halve as I didn’t have a plastic baby on hand).  This came in handy later when she was able to choose her piece and (miraculously) she got the “baby” and the luck – much to my son’s dissapproval.  Although he wasn’t around for making the cake and filling, he was there for decorating and had a good time with the colored sugars.  Our cake actually looked tame and healthy compared to photos of others we found online.

Since this method is a common one for making filled coffee cakes or Danish pastry rings, and we weren’t having a Mardi Gras party this evening, I decided to serve it for breakfast the next morning with eggs and fruit.  It was yummy.  And I think I’d make the filling again to spread on bagels and toast.
2 ounces cream cheese

1/4 cup brown sugar, packed

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

2 tablespoons raisins, soaked in hot water for 15 minutes, drained, and patted dry on paper towels

1/4 cup chopped pecan pieces


1 roll refrigerated crescent rolls in the can


3/4 cups confectioners’ sugar 

2 to 3 tablespoons milk

1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Purple, green, and yellow colored sugar crystals or food coloring

To make the filling:  In a small bowl, cream together cream cheese, brown sugar, cinnamon and raisins. Add peacan pieces. Set aside.

Preheat oven to 350 F. Line and grease a baking sheet.

Unroll crescent roll dough and separate into triangles. Position triangles next to each other with the points toward the center, overlapping the long sides about 1/4-inch, forming a large round on the baking sheet. Where the pieces overlap, press the seams together only in the center of each seam, leaving either ends of the seams unsealed so you can fold them up over the filling.

Spread the filling around in a ring covering the center sealed seam of each triangle.

Place a small plastic baby or nut somewhere in the filling. (The person who gets this piece will have good luck for the year and has to supply next year’s cake.)

Fold the short side of each triangle toward the center just to the edge of the filling to cover. Then pull the point end of the triangles toward the outer rim of the pan to fully enclose the filling, tucking under the points. Lightly press the seams.

Bake 20 to 25 minutes until golden brown. Let cool to room temperature.

To make icing:  Whisk together the confectioners’ sugar, milk or cream, and vanilla until smooth. The consistency should be fairly thick, but still thin enough to slowly drip down the sides. Add more milk as necessary. Spoon the icing in a ring over the top of the King Cake and allow it to slowly drip down the sides.

To decorate sprinkle wide stripes of purple (denoting justice), green (faith), and yellow (power) with colored sugars.