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Mardi Gras King Cake Cupcakes: Fit for a King and Queen


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King Cakes are cakes typically baked throughout the Mardi Gras season (beginning on Jan. 6, Epiphany, and ending on Fat Tuesday, the day before Ash Wednesday) to celebrate the three kings. It is one of the few desserts that I know of that people base an entire party around. The tradition is that one person brings the king cake to the Mardi Gras king cake party. A plastic baby (representing baby Jesus) is buried somewhere in the cake and whoever gets the piece with the baby has to host the next year’s Mardi Gras king cake party.

I’m not Christian and I’m not from New Orleans, so why did I bake a Mardi Gras king cake cupcakes?
1. Iron Barley was having a Mardi Gras King Cake Bake-Off. I won a prize in their last competition for my tomato cupcakes. I had to give it a shot.
2. King Cakes basically taste like cinnamon rolls. Groom 2.0 loves cinnamon rolls. He has in the past talked about going to the airport just because there was a Cinnabon there. Neither of us is sure if he actually did this or just talked about it.
3. In Jewish weddings (as Bride and Groom 2.0’s wedding will be), the bride and groom are supposed to be treated as king and queen for a day. The traditional chair lifting is to emphasize the couples regal status. Therefore, a king/queen cake could be fitting. Maybe I could hide a fake flower bouquet in one and the person who finds it either gets married next or chooses the next bachelor/bachelorette to wed.
The king cake cupcakes were the first cupcakes I have made that used yeast. They were definitely more a bread consistency that a cake consistency. In fact, I used my bread machine to make them.
The cupcakes were amazingly good fresh out of the oven and three days later my house still smells sweet and cinnamony.
The Mardi Gras king cake cupcakes were so tasty on their own that they didn’t really need frosting.  However, cupcakes must have frosting and I thought that would be the best way to work in the Mardi Gras king cake colors:
Purple represents justice,
green represents faith,
and gold represents power.
Another option might have been to just use colored sugar.
If I made these again and called them cinnamon rolls instead of king cakes, I would definitely work some of the praline filling into the frosting. The filling was the best part! Because I didn’t think that it would color well, I opted for a basic cinnamon frosting.
I used purple ball sprinkles to look like Mardi Gras beads and of course, I hid the baby in one of the cupcakes.

The Opinions of Important People

1. Groom 2.0 liked them a lot. He didn’t like the purple sprinkles because he thought they added unnecessary crunch. He also considered them to be a bit brunchy for a cupcake, but it turns out they are considering a brunch wedding so that might not be so bad.
2. Bride 2.0 is sick and has no taste buds.
3. The Iron Barley judges voted my cupcakes 3rd place! When they were announcing the winners, I was standing next to the owner of Kreative Kakes. She was so sweet. She seemed certain I was going to place. She asked me “Do you have a bakery?” I replied matter o’factly, “No, I have a blog.” My prize: A Mardi Gras crown, some fancy beads, Mardi Gras party cups, and a Mardi Gras CD by Bob Case. You can see some of the other contest entries in the picture to the left. Not surprisingly, mine were the only cupcakes.

The Mardi Gras King Cake Cupcake Recipe

I slightly modified the recipe from allrecipes to use a bread machine and to be cupcakes. If you don’t have a bread machine, you can follow the steps from the original recipe.

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Mardi Gras King Cake Cupcakes: Fit for a King and Queen

Servings 24 cupcakes

Ingredients

Pastry Ingredients

  • 1 2/3 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 2 .25 ounce packages active dry yeast
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 5 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

Filling Ingredients

  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 2/3 cup chopped pecans
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 1/2 cup melted butter

Cinnamon Mascarpone Frosting Ingredients

  • 1 cup chilled whipping cream
  • 8 oz mascarpone
  • 1/2 T cinnamon
  • 2 to 3 cups confectioner's sugar depending upon how thick you prefer frosting

Instructions

  1. Put all pastry ingredients into the bread machine per your machine's instructions. Typically you put in all the wet ingredients, then all dry ingredients, and put the yeast in last. Run the bread machine on the dough cycle.
  2. Remove from the bread machine, cover and allow to rise for two hours or until doubled in size.
  3. To make the filling: combine the brown sugar, ground cinnamon, chopped pecans, 1/2 cup flour and 1/2 cup raisins. Pour 1/2 cup melted butter over the cinnamon mixture and mix until crumbly.
  4. Rip off pieces of dough and make long strips out of them (about 2.5 inches wide). I didn't find the dough to be easy to roll so I basically just pressed it into the thin strips.
  5. Spread the filling down the center of the strip.
  6. Fold the top and the bottom of the strip around the filling to form a log.
  7. Stretch the log out to make it as thin as as you can without it breaking.
  8. Start on one end of the log and roll it until it fits snugly in a cupcake liner. Break it off, put it in the liner and continue rolling sections of the log.
  9. Bake at 350 F for 20 min.

Cinnamon Mascarpone Frosting Instructions

  1. Whip whipping cream in mixer until soft peaks begin to form.
  2. Fold in mascarpone.
  3. Mix in cinnamon.
  4. Slowly add the confectioner's sugar, being careful not to over-whip frosting.

The Very Important Tip

I found the plastic baby in the baby section of a local party store. The store employee who helped me find it was very excited to share all of her Mardi Gras knowledge with me. I was most thankful for this particular tip:
“Do not put the baby in the cake when you bake it. It will melt. Hide it in afterwards.”
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