Celebrate Mardi Gras With the Best Cream Cheese King Cake
How to Make a Cream Cheese King Cake for Mardi Gras
No Mardi Gras celebration is complete without a big, bold king cake to reign over the festivities. King cake is a beloved Mardi Gras tradition that marks the party-hearty end of carnival season on Fat Tuesday before you give it all up for Lent on Ash Wednesday.
And what better way to bid farewell to a season of wretched excess than with one last slice of cake stuffed with a praline-cream cheese filling, drizzled with glaze, and embellished with a classic trifecta of Mardi Gras colors.
MasterChef alum, Elise Mayfield — aka Smart Cookie — will show you step by step how to bake and decorate a king cake, including how to make a yeast dough, whip up the filling, form the traditional ring shape, how (and why) you conceal a tiny toy baby inside the cake, and how to decorate the whole thing with iconic Mardi Gras hues of purple, green, and gold.
Get the recipe: The Best Cream Cheese King Cake
"If you're looking for a new king cake recipe to celebrate Mardi Gras, you must try this one. If you're a little intimated, don't be. Follow this recipe and don't forget to put the baby in!." — Smart Cookie
Smart Cookie's Top Tips:
- 1. A king cake is made with a yeast dough instead of a regular cake batter. Be sure to use warm (not hot) water toactivate the yeastotherwise your dough won't rise correctly.
- 2. For best results, use thebread flourcalled for in the recipe instead of all-purpose flour.
- 3.Knead the bread doughuntil it's smooth and feels like "a baby's butt."
- 4. Bring the cream cheese for the filling to room temperature before whipping up the filling; cold cream cheese is harder to work with and will not give you the smoothest results.
- 5. The recipe makes enough for two king cakes. After dividing the dough, cover the unused half with plastic wrap to prevent it from forming a dry "skin." No one likes dry skin.
- 6.Hide the tiny toy baby in the cake AFTER it bakes.
Cook's tip: Toast the pecans to amp up their nutty flavor for the praline-cream cheese filling. You can toast them in the oven or on the stovetop:
- Oven: Preheat oven to 300 degrees F. Spread shelled nuts in a single layer on a foil-lined rimmed baking sheet and place in the oven. Stir every 5 minutes so they toast on all sides. When the nuts turn golden brown and smell toasty, remove them from the pan so they stop toasting.
- Stovetop: Heat a dry skillet over medium low heat. Spread nuts in a single layer. Stir constantly until nuts are toasty. Remove from the pan immediately so they don't scorch.
Watch the video to see it all come together: