Ever since I was young, I have been disturbed by the concept putting trinkets into cake.
Yule logs with coins in them, Epiphany cakes with thimbles in them, Mardi Gras king cakes with babies in them (plastic babies). They're all a disaster waiting to happen.
I'm expecting to bite into a soft, sweet, cream cheese laden cake, and then ouch! I just chipped my tooth on a plastic baby Jesus. How do I know that the "lucky" coin hidden in my slice of yule log wasn't on the floor of the subway last week... not feelin' so lucky anymore. Or worse yet, what if someone choked on the thimble in the Epiphany cake? That would be awkward. so.many.issues
The lore behind the Mardi Gras king cake is that the person who gets the slice with the baby wins. Winning means that they have to host the next King Cake party. To some that would be a real treat (I would have a field day buying my weight in cream cheese and sanding sugar), others not so much.
So if last year you were the one to get the slice with the baby in it, were lucky enough not to choke/chip any teeth on him, and you're not too enthused about whipping up this years king cake, I have the recipe for you. All this recipe takes is: 1) whacking pressure packed cinnamon rolls on the kitchen counter 2) whipping up some cinnamon-y cream cheese frosting (licking the spoon required) 3) shaking sanding sugar all over the whole thing and making it look all festive.
Easy enough right?
No proofing, zesting, waiting, or (god forbid) kneading. Just pop, lock 'n drop it.... not exactly, but you get the point: this recipe is easy.
Naturally, since it's made with Pillsbury, it doesn't taste exactly like the traditional, yeasty sweet bread. However, it's absolutely delicious and addictive nonetheless (nobody will complain). It tastes a little bit like sopapilla cheesecake. If you've never heard of sopapilla cheesecake, google it now and prepare to have your life changed.
All of this being said, I won't be putting a plastic baby in my king cake, but if you're into that, by all means do it. It's fun and festive and kudos to you for not being a total party-pooper like me with my concerns about sanitary/dental issues. Just remember to stick the baby in after the cake comes out of the oven (if you put him in before, you'll end up with a gooey plasticky mess).
Happy (almost) Mardi Gras to everyone!
And for all of you overachievers out there (or those of you that just like to play with dough), I have a real yeasted king cake recipe coming your way.
- 2 cartons Pillsbury Cinnamon Rolls, 8 Count (12.4 Ounce Cans) -- save the containers of icing!
- 1 8oz. block cream cheese
- ½ cups dark brown sugar
- ½ cup powdered sugar
- ½ teaspoon cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 Tablespoons purple sanding sugar
- 2 Tablespoons yellow sanding sugar
- 2 Tablespoons green sanding sugar
- 1 dry bean or plastic baby jesus (if you're into that)
Take all of the cinnamon rolls out of their containers, and set the frosting containers to the side. Dust a rolling pin with flour and roll each cinnamon roll into a flat disk (about 4 inches in diameter). You should end up with 16 rounds.
Arrange 8 of these rounds on a piece of parchment paper, overlapping a bit in a wreath shape. Press down where they overlap so they stick together.
Beat together the cream cheese brown sugar and powdered sugar. Add the cinnamon, and vanilla extract. Beat well until combined. Drop this mixture by tablespoonful on the cinnamon rounds that have been sealed into a circle, staying as close to the center as possible.
Place the remaining 8 cinnamon rounds on top of the filling, overlapping and sealing the tops and tucking under to seal the sides.
Bake for 17-20 minutes.
Let cake cool for a few minutes (now is when you stick the trinket into the cake). Frost with the Pillsbury Frosting that came with the rolls. Sprinkle all over with purple, yellow, and green sanding sugar.
Adapted from So Domesticated
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