Leave it frequent contributor, Holly Clegg, who lives in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, to send a healthier and easy to make King Cake recipe just in time to include it with your Mardi Gras party plans! This easy King Cake recipe is a easy solution if you cannot get an authentic king cake from a bakery near you.
You can find more of Holly Clegg’s trim& TERRIFIC® recipes at hollyclegg.com and The Healthy Cooking Blog. And don’t forget that Holly’s cookbooks make wonderful gifts for anyone trying to eat in a more healthy way!
What is a King Cake?
For those of you unfamiliar with King Cakes, the tradition was brought to New Orleans from France in 1870. Now as part of the Mardi Gras celebration, it’s common to bake a King Cake in honor of the three kings.
Since I have a French maman, I grew up with King Cake as part of another French tradition, the festival of Epiphany at the end of the Christmas season. Both Mardi Gras and Epiphany King Cakes have little figurines baked inside. The most common one is the baby, which represents the Baby Jesus. During Mardi Gras, if you get the slice of the cake with the baby, then you’re named King of the Day, and by custom you must host the next party and provide the King Cake.
An easy to make, healthier Mardi Gras King Cake
No matter where you live, I want you to be able to enjoy one of my favorite Louisiana traditions – the Mardi Gras King Cake! This might be my most requested recipe – so easy and fun to make that people all over say they prefer it even to the store bought King Cake variety!
From my trim&TERRIFIC Gulf Coast Favorites cookbook, now, you can make this quick and healthier king cake recipe in your own home, without worrying about a complicated yeast dough – using crescent rolls. Kids will have so much fun getting in on the action too.
Each color of the icing represents something: yellow equals power, green equals faith, and purple equals justice. Remember that color chart, as equal parts of red and blue food coloring make purple. And don’t save this sweet king cake treat for only Mardi Gras season, make this cake year-round: for icing you can use red food coloring for Valentine’s Day, pastel colors for Easter, and red and green colors for Christmas.
The madness of Mardi Gras is about having a good time, so start the music, toss the beads, and enjoy the food that has garnered a reputation all over the country. As they say in New Orleans, “Throw me a party, mister!”
This Mama’s tips on making Holly’s Easy Mardi Gras King Cake Recipe
If you're interested in lowering the calorie count, try using Swerve Sweetener confectioners sugar instead of regular confectioner sugar in Holly’s easy king cake recipe. It’s a natural, no calorie sweetener that tastes great and is as easy to use as regular powdered sugar.
As for food coloring, I highly recommend Wilton’s icing color sets. You can buy them online or at any crafting store that sells Wilton’s cake decorating products. Unlike liquid food coloring, Wilton’s icing colors are vibrant and easy to use. You can also buy the exact color you need instead of mixing several colors.
You can make Holly Clegg’s King Cake recipe dairy free by using a vegan cream cheese, non-dairy buttery spread, and soy, coconut or almond milk. Pillsbury Crescent Rolls don’t contain dairy products. However, if you’re using a store brand, please check the label.
Easy Mardi Gras King Cake with Cream Cheese Cinnamon Filling
- 2 (8-ounce) cans reduced-fat crescent rolls
- 4 ounces reduced-fat cream cheese
- 2 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1/3 cup light brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
- Mardi Gras Icing (recipe below)
Mardi Gras Icing:
- 1 cup confectioners’ sugar
- 1 to 2 tablespoons skim milk
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Yellow, green, red, and blue food coloring
- Preheat oven to 350ºF. Separate crescent rolls at perforations into 16 slices. On 10-inch round pizza pan coated with nonstick cooking spray, place slices around pan with points in center. About half way down from the points, press seams together.
- In mixing bowl, beat cream cheese, confectioners’ sugar, and vanilla until creamy. Spread cream cheese mixture on dough in center where seams of dough have been pressed together.
- In another small bowl, combine butter, brown sugar, and cinnamon with fork until crumbly. Sprinkle over cream cheese. Fold dough points over cream cheese area and then fold bottom of triangle over points forming a circular roll like a king cake.
- Bake 20–25 minutes or until golden brown. Cool slightly, drizzle with colored Mardi Gras Icing (recipe below).
Mardi Gras Icing:
- In small bowl, mix together confectioners’ sugar, milk, and vanilla. Divide mixture into three bowls.
- In first bowl, add a few drops yellow food coloring. In second bowl, add a few drops green food coloring. In third bowl, add equal amount of red and blue food coloring (will create purple color).
- Drizzle each color over baked cake.
- Serving size: 1/16 of recipe
- Calories: 184
- Calories from Fat: 66 (36%)
- Total Fat: 7g
- Saturated fat: 3g
- Unsaturated fat: 4g
- Sodium: 275mg
- Total Carbohydrates: 26g
- Sugar: 16g
- Fiber: 0g
- Protein: 39
- Cholesterol: 9mg
Diabetic Exchanges: 1 1/2 carbohydrate, 1 1/2 fat
Recipe and photo used with permission. Originally published on February 12, 2014. Updated with new pictures.