Mardi Gras earlier this week!!! I usually celebrate by eating all of my favorite sweets, since I pretty much always end up giving up sweets for Lent. It was a good day to bring in these King Cake Cupcakes! I am no Mardi Gras expert by any means, but I do know that the “King Cake” is traditionally a sweet and often colorful coffee cake. A plastic baby (symbolizing baby Jesus) is hidden inside of the cake, and whoever gets the piece with the baby inside has good luck for a year… at least that’s the version I know of. There are many different legends. It’s a fun way to bring a little friendly competition into the workplace. I decided to transform the idea into cupcakes – and boy were they great!
The cake is a moist cinnamon-swirl cupcake and is topped with a light and fluffy cream cheese frosting. I tinted the frosting with the official colors of Mardi Gras (yellow, green, and purple), and decorated with colored sugar and sprinkles. They were really fun and everyone at work enjoyed them!
Mardi Gras King Cupcakes
Active Prep: 15 min
Cook time: 20-24 min
TOTAL: ~40 min, plus cooling and frosting
- ¼ c unsalted butter, melted
- ¼ c light brown sugar
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 5 tsp cinnamon
- 3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
- 1 3/4 cups granulated sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 3 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 cup milk
Cream Cheese Frosting
- ½ c (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
- 8 oz cream cheese, softened
- 4 c confectioner’s sugar
- ¼ c milk
- 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a 12-count cupcake tin with cupcake liners and a second tin with 6 liners.
- In a small bowl, mix together melted butter, brown sugar, and 1 tsp cinnamon. Set aside.
- In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, salt, and 1.5 tsp cinnamon together. Set aside.
- In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter and sugar on medium-high speed until light and fluffy. Add eggs and vanilla and beat until combined. Reduce speed to low and add the flour mixture slowly, alternating with the milk. Mix until just combined. Do not overmix. Batter will be thick.
- Spoon batter into cupcake liners filling halfway full (~1/4 c of batter) and top with ~1 tsp cinnamon-butter mixture (allow to drip down sides). Bake for 20-24 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of a cupcake comes out clean. Cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Frost as desired with cream cheese frosting (recipe follows). Yields: 16-18 cupcakes.
Cream Cheese Frosting
- In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together butter and cream cheese on medium-high speed until well-blended.
- Reduce speed to low and slowly add confectioner’s sugar, alternating with milk. Add vanilla and increase speed to medium-high, whipping until fluffy and well-combined. Add additional milk or powdered sugar until you reach desired frosting consistency.
Decorating tips for Mardi Gras!
- Tint your frosting with yellow, green, or purple (or all three!)
- Garnish with plastic Mardi Gras beads or rings
- Hide a plastic baby (symbolizing baby Jesus) in one of the cupcakes (NOTE: do this AFTER baking – just stick it into the baked cupcake, then frost).