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King Cake cupcakes

No time for King Cake this year? Make these simple butter cupcakes and dress them up for Mardi Gras with colored sprinkles.

The Pastry Chef's Baking
Decorate your King cupcakes with purple, green, and yellow sprinkles for Mardi Gras.

Today is Fat Tuesday or Mardi Gras – traditionally the last gasp of partying, frivolity, revelry and gluttony before Ash Wednesday ushers in Lent. At least it is if you celebrate or observe these traditions. Technically I don't but ever since I'd visited New Orleans, I have marginally more awareness of Mardi Gras.

I say marginally because I actually didn't realize until last night that tomorrow was Mardi Gras. I'd barely been aware of Valentine's Day then Mardi Gras comes along three days later.

No problem – we just switch over from red and pink to purple, green, and gold (er, yellow). Traditional Mardi Gras dessert is King Cake but I didn't have time for that. There's probably no such thing as Mardi Gras cupcakes either so I'm calling these what they are: butter cupcakes who dressed up for Mardi Gras in the requisite colors. Thank goodness for colored sugars.

These are nice, simple, straightforward butter vanilla cupcakes under their gaudy colors. I liked the texture and the vanilla flavor so you can make these any time of the year. I made up my own frosting since the original recipe called for chocolate frosting but the colored sugars stand out more against a vanilla frosting so that's what I made.

Butter cupcakes dressed for Mardi Gras
From Cupcakes by Elinor Klivans 


1-1/4 cups cake flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup whole milk


1 stick unsalted butter, softened
2 cups confectioners' sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1-2 tablespoons whole milk, more or less depending on desired consistency

1. Make the cupcakes: Position a rack in the middle of the oven. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line 12 muffin tin cups with paper cupcake liners.

2. Sift the cake flour, baking powder and salt into a medium bowl and set aside. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer on medium speed, beat the butter and sugar until smoothly blended and creamy, about 2 minutes. Stop the mixer and scrape the sides of the bowl as needed during mixing. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing until each is blended into the batter. Add the vanilla and beat for 2 more minutes. On low speed, add the flour mixture in 3 additions and the milk in 2 additions, beginning and ending with the flour mixture and mixing just until the flour is incorporated and the batter looks smooth.

3. Fill each paper liner with 1/4 cup of the batter, to about 1/2 inch below the top of the liner. Bake just until the tops feel firm and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 22 minutes. Cool the cupcakes for 10 minutes in the pan on a wire rack.

4. Carefully place the wire rack on top of the cupcakes in their pan. Protecting your hands with pot holders and holding the pan and rack together, invert them to release the cupcakes onto the wire rack. Turn the cupcakes top side up to cool completely.

5. Make the frosting: Cream butter until smooth. Add confectioners' sugar and beat until combined. Add vanilla and enough milk to achieve desired consistency. Beat until smooth. Frost cooled cupcakes and sprinkle with colored sugars for decoration if desired.

Related post on The Pastry Chef's Baking: King Cake - Get Your Mardi Gras On

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