Confession time. We don't actually celebrate or do anything for Mardi Gras round these parts. It's a pretty Catholic holiday despite the fact that I think it's taken on a great deal of secularization in New Orleans.
Which is really one of the things that's most attractive about it. The whole New Orleans connection. Because that's just one of those magical places I am dying to visit. Not DURING Mardi Gras, because the idea of being in those crowds of people is completely and totally overwhelming to me. Thatmom and Thatdad used to make yearly pilgrimages there, and bring us home Cafe du Monde beignets and THAT is what started the love. The food. I love Creole food, and New Orleans (while it has plenty of other amazing things to offer) has some fantastic food. Which brings us right around to Mardi Gras again.
I saw a recipe for King Cake in a magazine recently and it made me realize I could probably get away with making Mardi-Gras food without actually celebrating the holiday. And rather than make a cake, I decided that I was going to reinterpret the King Cake to something I knew my family would be all over - cinnamon rolls. While King Cake normally has a glaze for a topping, I'm more partial to cream cheese for cinnamon rolls. These rolls take the flavors of King Cake and puts them in a single serving (or triple serving if you're Thatboy who eats three at a time) perfect for your Mardi Gras breakfast, brunch, or anytime feast!
King Cake Cinnamon Rolls
3/4 cup warm milk
1 package active dry yeast
1/4 cup sugar (divided)
3 cups flour
2 tsp ground cinnamon (divided)
1 tsp salt
3 egg yolks
2 sticks butter, room temperature
1 tsp lemon zest
1 tsp almond extract
1 1/2 tsp vanilla bean paste (divided)
1 cup pecans, chopped
1/3 cup light brown sugar
8 oz cream cheese
1 1/2 cup confectioners sugar
- Combine the milk, yeast, and 1 tsp sugar and let sit for 10 minutes.
- In a large bowl whisk together the remaining sugar, flour, 1 tsp cinnamon, and salt.
- In an electric mixer combine egg yolks, 1 stick of butter, lemon zest, almond extract, and 1 tsp vanilla bean paste.
- Stir in yeast mixture
- Stir in flour mixture. Knead with a dough hook for 5-7 minutes. Cover and let rise until doubled in size (about 1 hour).
- In a small bowl combine pecans, brown sugar, and remaining cinnamon.
- Turn out dough onto lightly floured surface and roll into a 10 by 15 inch rectangle.
- Spread dough with half of the remaining butter (half a stick).
- Sprinkle with pecan mixture and roll dough into a log, starting with the long side. Pinch the seam to seal.
- Slice the dough into 1/2 inch pieces and place in a greased cake pan. Cover with a towel and let rise for another hour.
- Heat over to 375. Whisk the remaining egg with 1 Tbsp water. Brush the dough with the egg wash. Bake for 25 minutes or until the cinnamon rolls are golden brown. Let cool.
- In an electric mixer, beat cream cheese and remaining butter on low speed to combine.
- Beat in confectioners sugar until blended.
- Blend in remaining vanilla bean paste. Divide into 4 bowls and color with green, purple, and yellow food coloring. Spread the white frosting on top of the cooled cinnamon rolls and then use the colored frosting to decorate.