Let the good times roll, huh?
I feel like it wasn’t all that long ago, my girlfriends and I were sitting around at lunch, deciding how we were going to squeeze 8 girls into a hotel room barely big enough for 1… but cost like it should hold 39. Discussions of grabbing odds on who’d be the first Hand Grenade victim, who’d be the first back to the hotel (I wanted the bed!), and who wouldn’t stumble back ’til day break because she couldn’t remember the name of the hotel (ahem, yeah… I’m so sure that’s why she was out all night).
Only it really was that long ago. And I’ll be honest. I’m totally okay with that. Most of the time 😛
So I took my friend Erica’s King Cake recipe and made just a few changes to end up with King Cake Cupcakes. The dough in this recipe is on the lighter side and that made it ideal to form into individual king cakes. You get a sweet, light pastry dough that rises and domes beautifully as a cupcake. (They’re “cupcakes” in name only, they definitely have a more pastry/cinnamon roll-like texture than cake-like).
Filled with a cinnamon-cream cheese mixture and topped with a light glaze, they’re a far safer and much cheaper way to celebrate Mardi Gras.
Where there are no Hand Grenades.
King Cake Cupcakes
Cupcakes inspired by the Mardi Gras favorite: sweet pastry dough filled with cream cheese and cinnamon.
- For the dough:
- 1 cup warm water
- 1/4 cup sugar, divided
- 1 pkg (2 1/4 tsp) yeast
- 1 egg
- 1 egg yolk
- 4 Tbsp butter, melted
- 3 1/2 cups flour, plus more for dusting work surface
- 1 tsp salt
- Oil or cooking spray, for coating bowl
- For the cream cheese filling:
- 8 oz cream cheese, softened (I used reduced-fat)
- 1/4 cup + 2 Tbsp sugar
- 1 egg yolk
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 1 rounded tsp cinnamon
- 2 Tbsp melted butter
- For the glaze:
- 3/4 cup powdered sugar
- 1/2 tsp vanilla
- 3-4 tsp water
- Decorating sugar in yellow, purple and green
- Add water and 1 Tbsp sugar to the bowl of your stand mixer. Sprinkle yeast over top and let stand for 10 minutes. (If your yeast doesn't get puffy, don't keep going - buy new yeast.)
- Add melted butter, egg, egg yolk, remaining sugar, 3 cups flour, and salt, and then turn the mixer to low.
- Add only enough extra flour to get the dough to clean the sides of the bowl but not come completely off the bottom - it should be only slightly sticky when you touch it.
- Transfer to a lightly oiled bowl, cover, and let rise in a warm place until doubled (45 minutes-1 hour in my 100-degree oven). While dough is rising, make the filling.
- Place filling ingredients into the mixer bowl (minus the melted butter) and mix on medium-high until completely smooth, 1-2 minutes.
- Preheat oven to 375 and line 2 cupcake pans with 18 liners.
- Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead a few times.
- Stretch to a rectangle about 18x12 and brush with 2 Tbsp melted butter, leaving the top 1-inch dry.
- Spread cream cheese filling over the dough evenly, leaving the top 1-inch dry.
- Starting with the long side of the dough closest to you, roll jelly-roll style, pinching the last inch of the dough onto the roll and placing seam-down on the counter.
- Lightly pat/pull so that the roll is even diameter down its length.
- Trim the scraggly ends and then slice into rounds that are ~3/4-1 inch thick. Take care that they don't get any thicker than that, the rolls should sit level/just below level of the cupcake pan. Any taller and they'll grow too tall in the oven and fall over.
- Transfer the rounds to the cupcake pans and let rest while the oven preheats to 375.
- Bake ~25 minutes, until lightly browned and nicely domed.
- Remove from the oven and let cool ~10 minutes in the pan.
- Transfer to a rack to cool completely.
- To make the glaze, whisk powdered sugar, vanilla, and gradually add the water until you get a smooth and thick but scoopable glaze.
- Dip the tops of the cupcakes in the glaze (or spoon over top) and then sprinkle with decorating sugar. Like cinnamon rolls, they're best in the first 2 days. If you're bringing them to a party, ice/sugar them the night before. When stored in an airtight container for much longer than that, the sugar and glaze will begin to melt from the pastry moisture. Delicious still, just not as cute.
Yields: 18 cupcakes
Estimated time: 2 hours