Mardi Gras day, also known as Fat Tuesday, is less than a week away and in the spirit of the Carnival season I couldn’t help but think about my love of King Cake. I can’t even remember the first time I had my first slice of King Cake, but what I do know is that it’s a taste that brings back so many memories of family and fun.
The King Cake is part of the heritage and food of the city of New Orleans. The tradition of the King Cake is believed to have originated in the late 1800’s when it was brought to New Orleans from France. It gets its name from the biblical three kings who brought gifts to baby Jesus. The cake is covered with purple, green, and gold-colored sugars that represent justice, faith, and power.
If you’ve never been to New Orleans, you need to change that. I believe every person should experience this colorful city. I love the sights, smells, foods, and the people of this city because it’s a place like no other. Both of my parents were born and raised in New Orleans and that probably explains why I have such an appreciation for the heritage, culture and community there.
I won’t be going to New Orleans for Mardi Gras anytime soon, but I really wanted to bring a little bit of the spirit of the city and celebration to my home. The best and easiest way to do this was though food or… well… through baking. In order to celebrate the spirit of Mardi Gras I decided to take some time out to develop a King Cake themed cupcake.
My King Cake cupcakes have a similar flavor profile to a cream cheese filled King Cake. Although the yeasty challah dough of the King Cake is not present in this cupcake, it is still infused with all the other flavors. The cupcake starts with a vanilla brown sugar cupcake base that I adapted from NatashasKitchen.com. There’s a cinnamon, brown sugar cream cheese filling and it is topped with cream cheese frosting, a sugar glaze and has the colored sugar for the infamous design!
Many of the ingredients for this recipe are on sale at Target right now and I saved even extra money on many of their Market Pantry Items using the Target Cartwheel app. I ended up having to purchase my colored sugar from Walmart (but you can make your own).
If you’re celebrating the holiday over the weekend or just want to bake something new be sure to try out my recipe!
- 2 large eggs, room temperature
- 1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup oil
- 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 1/4 cup flour
- 1/2 cup buttermilk
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
Cinnamon Brown Sugar Flavor:
- 2 tsp maple syrup (optional)
- 3 tbsp light brown sugar
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 1 tsp flour
Cinnamon Cream Cheese Filling:
- 4 oz Cream Cheese, softened
- 2 tsp brown sugar
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- pinch of salt
- 1 tbsp milk
- 2 tbsp powdered sugar
Cream Cheese Frosting:
- 8 oz cream cheese, softened
- 1 stick (1/2 cup) butter
- 1 tbsp vanilla extract
- 3 cups powdered sugar
- 1 tbsp buttermilk
- 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons powdered sugar
- 1 tbsp buttermilk
- Colored sugar in purple, green, and gold
- Preheat oven to 350°
- In a mixing bowl cream together eggs, brown sugar, sugar, and oil.
- in a separate bowl combine baking powder, baking soda, salt, and flour.
- Alternatively add flour mixture and buttermilk to wet ingredients and mix until combined (do not over mix)
- Fold in buttermilk.
- Pour batter mixture into a lined 12 compartment muffin tin filling to about 2/3 full.
- Set muffin tin aside.
- To make the brown sugar flavor combine maple syrup, brown sugar, cinnamon and flour. Sprinkle evenly on top of the cupcake batter.
- Bake cupcakes for 15 – 17 minutes, transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely.
Cream Cheese Filling:
- Mix cream cheese, brown sugar, cinnamon, salt, milk, and powdered sugar until smooth.
Cream Cheese Frosting:
- In a mixing bowl combine cream cheese, butter, vanilla, and buttermilk until smooth.
- Gradually add in powdered sugar 1/2 cup at a time and mix until smooth and fluffy.
Sugar Glaze (do not make until after cupcakes have been filled and frosted):
- Combine powdered sugar, salt, and buttermilk. Stir until smooth (it should be a thick liquid).
To Assemble Cupcakes:
- Using the round tip of a wooden spoon, knife, or your finger create a crater in the center of each cupcake.
- Using a piping bag fill each cupcake with the cream cheese filling being sure not to over fill.
- Using a piping bag or knife frost each cupcake in the method of your choice.
- Mix together the sugar glaze and spoon mixture over the top of each allowing it to drip over the sides.
- Quickly sprinkle a combination of colored sugars over each cupcake.
Keep refrigerated until serving.