I made these King Cake Cupcakes for a friend who recently had a baby. Instead of cupcakes, they have the texture of the pastry-like New Orleans King Cake. They are similar to a light cinnamon roll. The airy dough is filled with cinnamon cream cheese and topped with a vanilla glaze.
The King Cake is a New Orleans tradition honoring the wise men meeting Jesus on the Epiphany (January 6th). The pre-Lenten season continues until Mardi Gras on the day before Ash Wednesday. The King Cake was originally a simply decorated ring of bread. It has evolved into a glazed and filled pastry topped with purple, green, and gold sugar. A small “baby” is placed inside the cake, symbolizing the infant Jesus. The person with the slice of cake containing the baby hosts the next Mardi Gras party with the next King Cake.
Purple, gold, and green are the official colors of Mardi Gras. They were chosen in 1872 by visiting Russian Grand Duke Alexis Alexandrovich Romanoff. They stand for justice (purple), power (gold), and faith (green).
More information on the king cake.