How to Make a Cream Cheese King Cake for Mardi Gras
No Mardi Gras celebration is complete without a big, bold king cake to reign over the festivities. King cake is a beloved Mardi Gras tradition that marks the party-hearty end of carnival season on Fat Tuesday before you give it all up for Lent on Ash Wednesday.
And what better way to bid farewell to a season of wretched excess than with one last slice of cake stuffed with a praline-cream cheese filling, drizzled with glaze, and embellished with a classic trifecta of Mardi Gras colors.
MasterChef alum, Elise Mayfield — aka Smart Cookie — will show you step by step how to bake and decorate a king cake, including how to make a yeast dough, whip up the filling, form the traditional ring shape, how (and why) you conceal a tiny toy baby inside the cake, and how to decorate the whole thing with iconic Mardi Gras hues of purple, green, and gold.
Get the recipe: The Best Cream Cheese King Cake
"If you're looking for a new king cake recipe to celebrate Mardi Gras, you must try this one. If you're a little intimated, don't be. Follow this recipe and don't forget to put the baby in!." — Smart Cookie
Smart Cookie's Top Tips:
1. A king cake is made with a yeast dough instead of a regular cake batter. Be sure to use warm (not hot) water to activate the yeast otherwise your dough won't rise correctly.
2. For best results, use the bread flour called for in the recipe instead of all-purpose flour.
3. Knead the bread dough until it's smooth and feels like "a baby's butt."
4. Bring the cream cheese for the filling to room temperature before whipping up the filling; cold cream cheese is harder to work with and will not give you the smoothest results.
5. The recipe makes enough for two king cakes. After dividing the dough, cover the unused half with plastic wrap to prevent it from forming a dry "skin." No one likes dry skin.
6. Hide the tiny toy baby in the cake AFTER it bakes.
Cook's tip: Toast the pecans to amp up their nutty flavor for the praline-cream cheese filling. You can toast them in the oven or on the stovetop:
- Oven: Preheat oven to 300 degrees F. Spread shelled nuts in a single layer on a foil-lined rimmed baking sheet and place in the oven. Stir every 5 minutes so they toast on all sides. When the nuts turn golden brown and smell toasty, remove them from the pan so they stop toasting.
- Stovetop: Heat a dry skillet over medium low heat. Spread nuts in a single layer. Stir constantly until nuts are toasty. Remove from the pan immediately so they don't scorch.
Watch the video to see it all come together:
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