In New Orleans, there is nothing quite like the excitement of Mardi Gras. Parades abound, beads line the trees, terraces, and streets, and people in costumes run wild. Once you’ve had your fill of Jambalaya, a classic Creole dish of rice, meat, and vegetables, you deserve an equally decadent dessert to keep the party going. If you’re looking to round out your Mardi Gras experience, the only answer is a traditional King Cake.
This year, however, we’re giving you a more portable, yet equally delicious and beautiful update to the classic cake: cupcakes!
Each cupcake features traditional Mardi Gras decorations: “Beads” in the form of gold dragees, and sugar in the royal colors of purple (justice), green (faith), and gold (power), which honor the three kings who visited the Christ child on Epiphany, the 12th day after Christmas.
1 cup granulated sugar
2 cups butter, divided
3 teaspoons vanilla, divided
1½ cups flour
1½ teaspoons baking powder
1 cup milk, divided
3½ cups confectioner’s sugar
purple, yellow, and green food coloring
1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Place cupcake liners into a muffin tin, or grease with butter or nonstick spray. Allow all butter to sit out at room temperature.
2. In a large bowl, whisk ½ cup butter until very fluffy and pale. Whisk in granulated sugar until fully combined. Add eggs one and a time and whisk after each addition. Whisk in 2 teaspoons of vanilla.
3. In a separate medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and ¼ teaspoon salt. Slowly add the flour mixture to the wet ingredients, stirring gently. Once all flour has been added, slowly stream in ½ of milk and stir until fully combined.
4. Divide cupcake batter between prepared tins and bake until tops are golden brown and have a slight crust, about 28–30 minutes.
5. While cupcakes bake, whisk remaining butter in a large bowl until very fluffy and pale. Whisk in confectioners sugar until fully combined and mixture is a thick buttercream. Whisk in remaining milk and remaining vanilla until a smooth consistency is reached.
6. Divide frosting between 3 separate bowls. Add green food coloring to one bowl, yellow to another bowl, and purple to the last bowl. Stir until frosting until you reach desired color and food coloring is fully combined.
7. Remove cupcakes from oven and allow to cool completely in muffin tin. When cool enough to handle, remove cupcakes from tins. Using a small knife, cut a small circle in the center of each cupcake, careful not to go all the way through. Remove the cake from the circle to create a hole in the cupcake. Fill the hole with gold dragees, then frost cupcakes with colored frosting as desired.