Friday, February 28, 2014

Mini King cakes for Mardi Gras

TGIFF -- thank goodness it's finally Friday!  Please do me a favor and take a moment to imagine all of the usual conversation found at the beginning of Friday posts: busy week, to-do lists, dreams of relaxation, and assorted fun things!  I can't manage to see past these adorable treats, so I'm going to skip the small talk and get right to it.

What I've really been looking forward to all week is the chance to share these cute and tasty little creations with you.  Mini King cakes.  Yep, that's right.  Mini. King. Cakes!!!  If they had cheeks, I'd pinch them!  ...right before I devoured 'em.

I got the idea for these on Fat Tuesday of 2013.  Just a shade on the late side.  Normally, I would've made a frantic trip to acquire the ingredients and hunkered down for a late evening of baking, but I had a very important date.  A date that was months in the making: one of my best friend's wedding dress fitting and an epic Fat Tuesday dessert crawl.

After all, you only get one shot at practicing a dress bustle enjoying a brownie batter doughnut.  Those things are seriously difficult to find!

So, here we are a year later.  My friend is happily married (thanks to my expert bustling), we've both had our brownie batter doughnuts (and the cookie dough variety, too), and I turned my dreams of mini king cakes into reality!

King cake is a traditional pre-Lenten/Fat Tuesday treat.  It's shaped like a ring and made from twisted cinnamon roll-style dough.  The baked cake is then topped with icing and decorated with colored sugar (purple, yellow, and green for traditional Mardi Gras colors).  A small plastic baby toy is often hidden somewhere in the cake; whoever finds it is responsible for providing the king cake next year.

Traditional king cakes are delicious but quite big and require a significant amount of prep work.  I wanted the same sweet cinnamon flavor but in a more manageable package, so I did what I do best -- made it miniature!

Ready made crescent dough is dusted with cinnamon sugar, scored, rolled and baked into the most delightful little pastries this side of the Mississippi.  Topped with that sugary glaze, they're downright heavenly.  And they're ready in under 30 minutes!

Rather than hiding an inedible (and slightly creepy, in my opinion) plastic baby in the cakes, I decided to tuck almonds within the flaky dough.  Edible surprises are the best kind of surprises.

I'll leave it up to you whether you hide only one almond in the entire batch or an almond in each mini cake.  If I keep one for myself, then I'll have seven to share with friends.  If each of those cakes contains a lucky almond, that's seven almonds and seven king cakes coming my way next year.

Who says you can't make your own luck? :)

One year ago: Slow cooker chicken sausage & shrimp gumbo
Two years ago: Pineapple & shrimp skewers
Three years ago: Black & white cookies

Mini King Cakes
-makes 8

1 (8-ounce) tube crescent dough (seamless, if you can find it)
All-purpose flour, for dusting
2 Tablespoons granulated sugar
1 heaping teaspoon ground cinnamon
8 almonds, optional
1/2 cup confectioner's sugar
Roughly 1 Tablespoon milk
Green, yellow, and purple sanding sugars

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.  On a lightly floured board or counter, unroll crescent dough.  Using a pizza cutter or sharp knife, cut into 8 equal columns.  In a small bowl, combine sugar and cinnamon.  Divide cinnamon sugar mixture among 8 strips of dough, sprinkling in center of each strip.  Place 1 almond, if using, on each strip of dough.

Starting at one end of a strip, pinch together edges of dough from one end to the other.  Then, pinch together rolled ends to form a ring.  Place ring, seam side down, on baking sheet.  Repeat with remaining strips of dough.  Bake mini cakes for 15 minutes or until beginning to turn golden on top.  Remove from oven and cool slightly.

Meanwhile, prepare glaze by whisking together confectioner's sugar and milk in small bowl until smooth.  Add extra milk, a splash at a time, if necessary until desired consistency is reached -- you want the icing to drizzle but not run right off the cake.  Drizzle icing (or dip one side into icing) on top of mini cakes on parchment paper.  Top with colored sugars, one section per color per cake, and allow icing to set.  Serve and enjoy!

Mini cakes can be covered and kept at room temperature for up to 2 days but will be freshest the day they're made.


  1. Neat idea! Love traditional king cakes, but... don't really want to "bite the plastic baby" and the cakes are big enough to kill an entire average family with calories. These are right-sized! Thanks for trying to keep me alive. Dad

  2. These are so cute and look yummy!