Laissez les bons temps rouler! Celebrate Mardi Gras with these fun and festive moist vanilla cupcakes, swirled with cinnamon sugar and topped with cream cheese glaze and festive sprinkles!
It’s Fat Tuesday! You know what that means?
Today is the laaaaaast day to eat all the goodies and act the fool before forty days of good behavior and eating lots of fish for Lent.
Symbolically, anyway. I grew up Catholic, and by the time I was born, the meat restriction had already been limited to Fridays only, and we were expected to pick a vice to give up for the duration.
I tried to give up chocolate., but I always faltered. Then I switched to giving up soda, and, to this day, I rarely drink it even outside of Lent.
I did, but I always faltered. Then I switched to giving up soda, and, to this day, I rarely drink it even outside of Lent.
I think I’ll stick to sacrificing soda, so I can sneak one of two of these incredible King Cake Cupcakes when the mood strikes. They’re just too good to stay away from!
JUST TAKE ME TO THE KING CAKE CUPCAKES ALREADY!
If you’d rather skip my (pretty darn helpful) tips and tricks, essential cooking info, and similar recipe ideas – and get straight to this deliciously easy Mardi Gras cupcake recipe, just scroll right on down to the bottom of the page where you can find the printable recipe card!
When you think of Fat Tuesday, nothing else comes to mind besides “Nawlins,” the home of Mardi Gras, right?
Unless you live in Florida, in which case you might recall that Universal Studios celebrates it for a solid two or three months.
While I’ve spent some time at Universal, I’ve never been to New Orleans. Never taken a bite of real king cake, tasted genuine jambalaya, or grabbed beads in midair on Bourbon Street.
In truth, I’ve never been to lots of places. And for a person with a bad case of Wanderlust like me, that’s tragic.
I flew on an airplane for the first time when I was 15. Fifteen.
First cruise? I was 23.
Inaugural trip out of the southern states? I visited New York 5 years ago. I’ve never been to the west coast, Canada, or Puerto Rico.
I DID go to London last winter, and it was an incredible experience…but even that trip was a disaster.
What should have been a 12-day whirlwind through some of the most romantic cities in Europe turned into 3 1/2 days in London, and 1/2 a day straddling the border before we had to fly home due to lack of knowledge and negligence of an airline.
My travel bucket list is long, folks.
At least I don’t have to travel far to enjoy these cupcakes.
Honestly, guys…this is one of the best cupcakes I’ve ever made.
It resembles a cinnamon roll, minus the roll – the cupcake base (adapted from Miss Dorothy’s at Crazy for Crust) is the most delicious batter I’ve ever tasted. I couldn’t stop licking the inside of the bowl after the cupcakes were in the oven.
I felt like a little kid again.
The icing, to tell the truth, was a total accident.
My intention was to pile these suckers high with my favorite fluffy whipped cream cheese. I had no heavy cream. I did have light cream.
Yes, I know they’re not the same, but I tried it out anyway. Clearly, I didn’t achieve the results I set out to, but King Cakes are iced with a thin icing anyway, so…I guess it kind of worked out for these cute little cupcakes.
They may not win any Miss Mardi Gras beauty pageants, but they’d definitely take home Most Delicious!
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HELPFUL KITCHEN TOOLS FOR MAKING KING CAKE CUPCAKES:
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King Cake Cupcakes
- 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
- ½ teaspoon baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ cup unsalted butter melted
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 3 eggs
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- ¾ cup buttermilk
Cinnamon Streusel Swirl
- ½ cup brown sugar
- ½ teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 ½ Tablespoons flour
- 2 Tablespoons butter softened
Cream Cheese Frosting
- 8 ounces cream cheese softened
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Pinch of salt
- 2 cups powdered sugar
- ¼ cup cream optional
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line 2 standard cupcake pans with 18 liners, spraying them lightly with cooking spray; set aside.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
- In a large bowl, combine melted butter and sugar. Mix together on medium speed for 2 minutes until thickened. Add eggs one at a time, mixing until blended between each one. Add vanilla and blend well.
- Add the buttermilk and flour mixture in alternate additions, beginning and ending with flour. Mix until just combined - don't overmix.
Cinnamon Streusel Swirl
- Combine all ingredients in a small bowl, and work them together with your fingers, creating a crumbly streusel.
- Fill the cupcake liners ¼ of the way with batter, then sprinkle in ½ Tablespoon or so of streusel. Fill to just under ¾ with batter, then sprinkle more streusel on top. Insert a toothpick in each one and gently swirl streusel around to distribute it.
- Bake for 15-20 minutes, checking at the 18-minute mark for doneness. They should be a nice golden color and leave nothing on a clean inserted toothpick.
- Remove from oven and allow to cool in pan for 10 minutes, then remove to cooling rack.
Cream Cheese Frosting
- In a large bowl, beat cream cheese for 30 seconds to soften it. Add vanilla and salt and mix until blended.
- Add powdered sugar until desired sweetness is achieved. Mine usually takes about 2 cups, but feel free to add up to 3 if you prefer more sweet than cheesy.
- (optional step) To loosen up the icing a bit and make it more like a glaze, add the cream and blend until smooth. It will still pipe nicely, but will not hold much shape, so feel free to skip this step if you're wanting a standard cupcake look.
- Using a cupcake corer or small paring knife, cut the middles out of each cupcake, leaving a cavity about ¾" across and halfway down into the cupcake.
- Spoon your icing into a piping bag or zipper bag, and use it to fill and ice the tops of the cupcakes.
- Garnish with sprinkles and festive decorations. Serve next to real king cake for a fun contrast. Enjoy!
What’s on your Travel Bucket List?