Mardi Gras season started January 6th, so, technically, this article is a little late. However, we should get a pass because we live in New England, a long way from New Orleans, and Mardi Gras is not usually on our radar while we shovel snow!
The subject would never have even come up if it wasn’t for our friend Bob Albers* in Mandeville, Louisiana. Bob is right in the middle of Mardi Gras season, so he’s eating a lot of King Cake. He told us that the traditional cake is plain with frosting on top, but, now, there is often a cream cheese filling.
According to Bob, “The time from the 12th day of Christmas (January 6th) until Mardi Gras Day (February 13th this year) is the Carnival Season. January 6th is also known as King’s Day in celebration of the arrival of the Magi at Bethlehem. It is traditional for a group of friends to gather for a King Cake party. Aside from the usual party conversations, food & refreshments, the evening culminates with the eating of the King Cake. The host or hostess hides a small plastic baby inside one of the pieces. Whoever gets the baby hosts the next party the following week. There are parties every week until Mardi Gras.”
That’s a lot of parties and a lot of King Cakes!
There are millions of recipes online, but, if you’re a cheese maker, you know you can make it better! If you use your own soft cheese filling, it will taste yummy and it will be free from all the additives in store-bought cream cheese. Here’s our easy recipe:
A Cheese Maker’s King Cake
4 ounces homemade cream cheese or any soft cheese
2 (12 ounce) tubes crescent rolls
3 cups confectioner’s sugar (divided)
1 tsp vanilla extract (divided)
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1/3 cup brown sugar
Purple, green and yellow sprinkles (You can make 3 colors of frosting if you want, but the sprinkles are more traditional.)
Making your own filling:
Or, if you have mesophilic culture, use it with or without rennet to make cream cheese. Use the recipe on our website (click here) or any of the recipes in our book Home Cheese Making (there are 5). You can even use the Bondon recipe in our book, stopping after step 4. (It’s a little tarter than some, but you will be adding sugar, so the result will be very tasty.)
Note: Drain your soft cheese well, until it is as dry as you can get it. You don’t want whey leaking into your dough!
Making the cake:
Preheat oven to 350F.
Cover a cookie sheet with parchment paper and open your crescent roll packages.
Separate the rolls and spread them in a circle with the pointed ends toward the middle. Overlap them slightly. (It’s ok if they overlap in the middle because you will be folding them up anyway.) It’s ok if the outer edge is ragged, but you can trim it if you want to.
Press down on the middle part of the seams between the sections (where the filling will be) so none of it leaks out during baking.
Mix your soft cheese with 1/3 cup confectioner’s sugar and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla. Spread on the dough.
Add 1/2 cup chopped pecans and cover with 1/3 cup brown sugar.
Fold the outer edges over the filling.
Fold the inner edges over the top.
Note: You can reverse this and fold the pointed ends first if you want (shown below). We tried it that way but liked the final result better when the pointed ends showed on the outside.
Bake for 15 minutes.
Making the frosting:
Get your sprinkles ready. (You will need to add these while the frosting is still wet.)
Beat together 2 2/3 cups confectioner’s sugar with 1/8 cup of water (more or less) and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla. (Be sure the frosting is thick enough to stay on the cake.)
Spread the frosting on the cake and immediately add the sprinkles.
Note: It helps to transfer the cake to a rack when it’s cool, so the frosting won’t pool around it.
If the frosting is too thin and the cake isn’t on a rack, you may get this:
Fortunately, the frosting dried and the excess could be removed.
No matter how you slice it, that’s one tasty cake!
Bob is a retired electronics engineer who has traveled all around the world, but now lives in Mandeville, Louisiana. He has written 10 articles for us so far (including this one), and we have done one about him (click here). We’re very grateful to him for his contributions to our community of home cheese makers.
These are his previous articles, listed in order with the most recent at top:
Creole Cream Cheese Recipe #2
Calculating Weights for the Dutch Style Press
Be a Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA)
Kummelkase (Caraway Cheese)
Cream Cheese Experiment
Bob’s Homemade Curd Cutter – Part 2
Bob’s Homemade Horizontal Curd Cutter
Making a Drying Box
About Cooking Curds
Creole Cream Cheese