Fat Tuesday. I love all of the bright colors and celebrations, but Mardi Gras really only means one thing to me—king cake.
My first Mardi Gras experience came when I took French 1 in junior high. The day before, each student signed up to bring some sort of festive food, and a friend and I chose to make the king cake. Since we were only 13, we didn’t exactly make the traditional variety—the kind with yeast—and instead, we baked a yellow cake with vanilla frosting and topped it with pretty purple, green, and yellow sprinkles.
Of course, we started slightly later in the afternoon than we anticipated, so we began rushing towards the end. Which meant we nearly forgot to shove the little plastic baby into the cake! (Tradition has it that whoever finds the baby in their slice is the “king” for the day and wears a crown to designate his—or her—royalty.) Although we already frosted half of the cake, we managed to stick him inside and continued our decorating.
The cake was a huge hit the next day, and only a couple of crumbs remained on the serving plate. But this Mardi Gras, I remembered my lesson from years ago, and when I began pulling ingredients off the shelves later than I planned, I grabbed my muffin tins instead of cake pans. Cupcakes take a lot less time to bake than a cake, and they taste just as scrumptious!
recipe from Cooking Light’s Classic Yellow Layer Cake
makes 2 dozen
Decorate with brightly colored sprinkles, and be sure to stick a plastic Mardi Gras baby in one cupcake before frosting!
1⅔ c. sugar
½ c. butter, softened
1 tbsp vanilla
2¼ c. flour
2¼ tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
1¼ c. fat-free milk
1-1½ c. vanilla frosting
- Preheat oven to 350°. Place 24 cupcake liners inside muffin tins.
- Cream butter and sugar in a large bowl for 3-5 minutes, or until fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Add vanilla and mix to combine.
- In a medium bowl, whisk flour, baking powder, and salt. Add ⅓ of flour mixture to egg mixture, mixing just until incorporated. Add half of milk, and mix until just incorporated. Repeat with next ⅓ of flour, remaining milk, and finishing with last ⅓ of flour.
- Evenly distribute batter between muffin cups. Bake for 20-25 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in the pan for a few minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack to finish cooling.
- Once cupcakes are entirely cool, stick the baby in one cupcake. Frost with vanilla frosting and top with festive sprinkles.