Happy Mardi Gras! Last year, I baked a King Cake. This year I baked King Cake cupcakes. With no sweet yeast dough to manage, cupcakes offered the path of least resistance.
The idea came to me via a King Arthur Flour email. If you want to make these cupcakes, you may find their blog post with step-by-step photos of baking and decorating helpful.
To keep up the tradition that the person who gets the piece of King Cake with the baby baked inside makes the cake next year, King Arthur Flour suggested dropping a chocolate kiss into the center of one of the cupcakes’ batter.
Wondering about those colors? I was too. The official Mardi Gras website clued me in that purple represents justice, green represents faith, and gold represents power. The King of Carnival, Rex, selected the colors and assigned their meanings in 1892. Now you know who to blame for the color scheme. Laissez les bons temps rouler!
King Cake Cupcakes
Yield 12 -14
- For the Cupcakes
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 6 tablespoons butter, softened
- 2/3 cup milk, at room temperature
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1/4 teaspoon lemon extract
- 2 large eggs
- For the Frosting
- 2 tablespoons butter, softened
- 4-ounces (1/2 package) cream cheese, softened
- 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1/4 teaspoon lemon extract
- 2 cups confectioners' sugar
- 1 to 2 tablespoons milk
- purple, yellow, and green colored sugars
- 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 grainy like sand.
- Add the milk and flavor extracts and increase the mixer to medium speed.
- Add the eggs one at a time, mixing after each egg until fully incorporated.
- Scrape the bottom and sides of the mixing bowl as needed to ensure the ingredients are fully incorporated into the batter. Mix just until the batter becomes smooth.
- Line the wells of a muffin tin with paper liners, spray with non-stick cooking spray, and scoop the batter into each well about 3/4 of the way full.
- Bake at 350°F for 20 to 25 minutes, until the cupcakes are light golden brown around their edges and they spring back when pressed gently on top.
- While the cupcakes cool, prepare the icing.
- Beat the butter, cream cheese, and flavor extracts in a medium-sized bowl until light and fluffy.
- Continue to beat while gradually adding the confectioners' sugar.
- Add milk as needed to create a spreadable consistency.
- Spread each cooled cupcake with frosting, then immediately decorate with the colored sparkling sugars. This is best achieved by pouring each color of sprinkles into a separate paper cupcake liner and dipping the edges of the frosted cupcake into each.
The original recipe listed a yield of 12 cupcakes. I was able to get 14 cupcakes when the liners were filled 3/4 of the way. Because it is necessary to spray the paper liners with non-stick cooking spray, you may want to double-line the muffin tins with papers to avoid a greasy look and keep the papers pretty.