Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Mardi Gras Mini King Cakes

Can we pretend it's "Fat Tuesday"?  That's Mardi Gras for those of you who might not know that.  Carnival season is almost here!  It's time to get into the spirit by baking your own version of the king cake. 

This is a festive, fun recipe that you can make and have your kids help you with.  They will love it.  Everyone loves these because they are basically cinnamon rolls with colorful icing.  I opted to place fruit filling in mine but you can leave that out if you like.  Below I will place step by step photos of how I put it together!

The funny thing is that I didn't set out to make these mini king (cup) cakes....it just kind of happened that way.   I looked up a ton of king cake recipes online since I've never made one on my own but always wanted to do so.  I grew up near New Orleans after all and Mardi Gras is just part of my culture and history.  However when I read about using five cups of flour and all the kneading involved in making the traditional king cakes, I just couldn't do it.  Plus I didn't have time to spend hours in the kitchen like that over the weekend.  So I came up with my own, easy recipe instead.  I think you'll enjoy this one!

And if you have no idea what a King Cake or Mardi Gras are, then here is a great site that covers it all!  Mardi Gras is definitely something to experience once in your lifetime! 

Mandy's Mardi Gras Mini King Cakes
(Makes 16 mini cakes)

3 cinnamon roll packages  (I used reduced fat cinnabon flavored by Pillsbury, 8 in each pkg)
*keep the icing that comes in the cinnamon roll packages too!
1 container  (8 oz) reduced fat cream cheese, softened
1 can (15 oz) apple pie filling or other fruit filling (optional)
food coloring - purple, yellow and green  (or use a combo of red and green to make purple like I did!)
3 tbsp sugar
brown sugar and powdered sugar for dusting (about 1/4 cup each)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Generously grease two muffin tins with cooking spray.  Note: This makes 16 cakes so I used my 12-muffin tin and my 6-muffin tin pans.  Open up two packages of cinnamon rolls and set the icing aside. 

Place each individual cinnamon roll in a muffin spot, just like this picture below.  This will be 16 cinnamon rolls.  Save the third package for later:

Shape them as best as you can to be round within the muffin tin.  Open your fruit pie filling can, if you use it.  The apple pie filling was excellent!  Scoop out one teaspoon on top of each cinnamon roll, just like this photo below:

Once you have spooned out the fruit filling, open up your third and final package of 8 cinnamon rolls.  Tear each roll in half and place 1/2 of it on top of each fruit filled roll in the muffin tin pan.  Spread it out to cover the rolls as best as you can where you can't see the center.  It will look similar to this:

Now bake your cinnamon rolls in the oven at 400 degrees for 15 to 20 minutes.  While the rolls are baking, make your icing to cover them. 

Place three, separate bowls out on your table.  Scoop out the icing that came with the cinnamon rolls packages.  Take your 8 oz container of reduced fat cream cheese and divide it evenly into each bowl.  Then add 1 tbsp of sugar to each bowl as well  (equal to 3 tbsp all together).  Now place the food coloring in each bowl.  Place a few drops of yellow in one bowl, a few drops of green in a second bowl and then use purple food coloring for the final bowl.  If you don't have purple food dye, like I didn't, then make your own by using about two drops of blue and four drops of red.  Mix until you have the right color you desire.  You may need to melt the added cream cheese a little in the microwave if it has not been softened.

Aren't these pretty?

Once the cinnamon rolls are done baking and lightly browned on tops and edges, remove them from the oven.  Let them cool for about five minutes before topping them.   At the last minute, I decided it would be fun to place a small scoop of the "icing" in the center of the cinnamon rolls too.  That way, when you bite into them, they'd have the fruit filling PLUS a bit of the icing too.  Double the goodness!

So if you want to do that as well, then you'll just need to gently pull up the top of the cinnamon rolls and scoop out a bit of icing into the center.  Like this:

But this is an optional step and it requires a bit more work.  Still it's fun and the cinnamon roll "top" can easily be put back together.  The icing helps it stick and your kids can help you too!

Continue spreading the colored icing all over each cinnamon roll, covering the tops and down the sides.  Sprinkle each one with brown sugar and powdered sugar.  Then amaze your friends and family with how good these are!  Almost too pretty to eat!  :-)  I said....almost!

Have you ever been to a Mardi Gras Parade?  If you ever get a chance to visit New Orleans but you cannot go during Carnival Season, you can still see the large, beautiful floats and taste king cake by visiting Mardi Gras World.  It's a great place to see artists in action making the floats and experience a bit of the fun if you cannot do the real thing! 


  1. These look great! I've never had a King Cake with fruit in it.

    It's my understanding that Mardi Gras season starts after Epiphany and runs till Ash Wednesday, so you could make these every week between now and then if you wanted to :-)

  2. Kathy G - You haven't lived until you've had a fruit-filled king cake! I've had every kind imaginable - peach, apple, blueberry, raspberry, cream cheese-filled, etc. Pick whatever your favorite is and go for it!

    Jess - I fed these to mostly kids and a few years back, someone filed a law suit about choking/swallowing those plastic babies. So I just don't do them or put them in the cakes! I know it's "tradition" but I just can't bring myself to do it. Now if it is for all adults and an office party, then go for it!

  3. Well, you could put them on top and just tell the kids to take them off before they eat them :)

  4. yummy! I'm dying to celebrate mardi gras in new orleans one of these years!! anne