Mardi Gras, Fat Tuesday, and Shrove Tuesday are all celebrated today,
Tuesday, February 12. King Cake is served throughout the Mardi Gras
Carnival season. Fat Tuesday is a feast day before the season of Lent
begins on Ash Wednesday.
Mardi Gras King Cake and cupcakes are just two of the foods associated with this holiday and well worth the effort to make them yourself, especially if you can't find them at a bakery in your local area. The most traditional New Orleans King Cake is a ring of twisted cinnamon roll-style bread topped with icing or sugar, usually colored purple (which represents justice), green (faith), and gold (power) which are the traditional Mardi Gras colors. King Cake cupcakes are a lot easier to make since there is no yeast involved, and kids love to make them, and to eat them!
Most King Cakes have a small small plastic doll (usually a Baby Jesus figurine) or other trinket placed inside. Some traditions say the person who finds the trinket is declared the King or Queen of the day, bakes the next King Cake, or hosts the next Mardi Gras party.
Mardi Gras King Cupcakes from King Arthur Flour
The flavors of King Cake, Mardi Gras' signature confection, are mirrored in these nutmeg and lemon-scented cupcakes. Cream cheese icing, garnished with sparkling sugars in traditional New Orleans Mardi Gras colors, add the perfect touch. This King Cake cupcakes recipe comes from King Arthur Flour who provided the gold, purple and green sparkling sugars for the King Cake and cupcakes.
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 2/3 cups King Arthur 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
- 1/2 cup (half of an 8-ounce package) cream cheese, at room temperature
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/8 teaspoon lemon oil
- 2 cups confectioners' sugar1 to 2 tablespoons milk, enough to make a spreadable icing
- colored sugars, preferably purple, yellow, and green
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease and flour a muffin tin. You can also line the muffin tins with papers, and spray the insides of the papers.
- To make the cupcakes: In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the sugar, flour, baking powder, nutmeg, and salt.
- Add the butter and beat with an electric mixer at low speed, until the mixture looks sandy.
- Combine the milk and vanilla and add, 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.
- 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.
- Scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl, and beat briefly, just till smooth.
- Scoop the batter by heaping 1/4-cupfuls into the prepared muffin tin. A muffin scoop works well here.
- 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.
- Remove the cupcakes from the oven, and place on a rack to cool completely before icing.
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.
- Add the sugar gradually, beating well.
- Beat in the milk a little at a time, until the frosting is a spreadable consistency.
- 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.
- Store at room temperature for several days. For longer storage, wrap well and freeze.
- Yield: 12 cupcakes
Recipe and Photo used with permission from King Arthur Flour.