King Cake Cupcakes

Mardi Gras has to be one of the best holidays. It is all about eating delicious food, drinking, and celebrating. There is no stress of traveling to see family, no dry turkey meat. Just cocktails and cake! All over the internet there are blogs posting the best mail order king cakes. You do not need to mail order a king cake. Make these super cute cupcakes and hide a plastic baby in one. I know, I know, these are not the right color of sprinkles. But these are the colors I had, use what you have! You can start having parties with this king cake on January 6th. The king cake season actually starts on January 6th, the twelfth night of Christmas, and goes until Mardi Gras. So tomorrow is actually the last day of the season! Yes, you have been missing out. It is tradition to bake these cakes for parties and the person who finds the baby in their piece bakes the next cake and/or throws the next party. So bookmark this for next year and have more parties with king cake. These are actually similar to coffee cake and I think would be a great brunch dessert as well.

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Serve these cupcakes with a French 75 for Mardi Gras. French 75 is a fantastic sparkling wine cocktail made with gin. I have also been guilty of making these with Kettle One instead of gin. You can use whatever sparkling wine you prefer. I love to use Saint Hilaire Blanquette de Limoux for French 75s. I talk about this wine a lot on the blog because it is truly fabulous. It is made from Chenin Blanc, Chardonnay, and Mauzac grapes. The delicate bubbles and tart floral notes make this wine the closest thing to non-vintage French Champagne. Mix 2 ounces gin with 1 ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice, 2 tsp sugar and pour into a champagne flute. Fill the flute up with sparkling wine the rest of the way. Garnish with a long thin spiral of lemon.

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King Cake Cupcakes
Makes 12

1/2 cup warm milk (130 degrees)
4 1/2 ounces yeast
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
3 egg yolks
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
Zest of 1 lemon
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup cake flour
2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp kosher salt

1 tsp cinnamon
4 tsp sugar
1 egg, lightly beaten

8 oz cream cheese, at room temperature
5 tbsp butter, at room temperature
2 cups powdered sugar

Prepare the cupcakes

In a measuring cup, mix the warm milk with the yeast and water. Let sit for 10 minutes. In a separate bowl, combine the melted butter, egg yolks, vanilla extract, and lemon zest.

In a large bowl, mix together the flours, cinnamon, and kosher salt. Stir in the butter mixture and milk/yeast mixture until combined. If the dough seems excessively sticky, add a tablespoon or two of flour.

In a glass, nonreactive bowl, coat the inside with softened butter. Place the dough in this bowl and flip it around a few times to coat the dough. Allow to rest in a warm place for 1 hour. It will rise but it may not quite double in size.

Prepare a muffin pan with paper liners. Dust your work surface with flour. Punch down the dough and then flip out onto the work surface. Roll the dough out to an 8×12 inch rectangle. (You can do this between two sheets of floured parchment paper as well.)

Mix together the 1 tsp cinnamon and 4 tsp sugar. Sprinkle the surface with this cinnamon sugar mixture. Roll the dough up lengthwise. Divide into 12 equal portions using a knife or pastry scraper. Place each one in the prepared muffin pan. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Allow the cupcakes to rest for 30 minutes. Brush with egg wash and bake for 20 minutes, rotating once halfway through.

Prepare the frosting

In a medium sized bowl, mix together the cream cheese, butter, and powdered sugar. Beat with a hand mixer until creamy and smooth. Pipe this on the cupcakes or spoon on generously. Sprinkle with violet, yellow, and green sprinkles. (Or whatever colors you have on hand!)

Adapted from Southern Living magazine.

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