In New Orleans, Mardi Gras celebrations are well underway. 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.
Pro Tip: If cupcakes aren’t really your thing, try our doughnut version. Yum.
1 cup granulated sugar
2 cups butter, divided (4 sticks)
3 teaspoons vanilla, divided
1.5 cups flour
1.5 teaspoons baking powder
1 cup milk, divided
3.5 cups confectioner’s sugar
Purple/yellow/green food coloring
Prepare Ingredients: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Place cupcake liners into a muffin tin, or grease with butter or nonstick spray. Allow all butter to sit out at room temperature.
Mix Wet Ingredients: In a large bowl, whisk .5 cup butter (1 stick) 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.
Finish Cake Batter: In a separate medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and .25 teaspoon salt. Slowly add the flour mixture to the wet ingredients, stirring gently. Once all flour has been added, slowly stream in .5 of milk and stir until fully combined.
Bake Cupcakes: Divide cupcake batter between prepared tins and bake until tops are golden brown and have a slight crust, about 28–30 minutes.
Make Frosting: 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.
Color Frosting: 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.
Decorate cupcakes: 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.