If you’ve ever been to New Orleans during Mardi Gras, or frankly anytime of year, then you know King Cake is king in The Big Easy. It’s as New Orleanian as Bourbon Street but with less drunken coeds flashing their goodies for cheap plastic beads.
King Cake is a traditional treat enjoyed in the weeks leading up to lent. Most people know the gist of Fat Tuesday, a debaucherous and indulgent day of feasting and imbibing on all of the things before lent begins on Ash Wednesday. But, not everybody is as familiar with the King Cake, a ring shaped, yeasted dough cake, covered in over the top obnoxious colored sprinkles. Along with the signature purple, gold and green sprinkles, a King Cake traditionally contains a hidden baby Jesus figurine inside. The baby Jesus is the reason for the season and also makes the whole King Cake experience an interactive game. Whoever finds the baby will be crowned Queen or King for the evening and will have good luck and prosperity for the year to come. But with great luck, comes great responsibility, the baby finder also has to provide the King Cake and the celebration the following year. So be careful what you wish for. I always wish I will find the baby JC but I’ve never been lucky.
I’ve made a few King Cakes in my day and I’ve always enjoyed what’s beneath all of those gaudy sprinkles. I just have a hard time seeing past the blinding, multi-colored bling. This year, I wanted to change it up a bit and see if I could streamline the chaotic sprinkle situation into something a bit less flashy. I thought about this for a long time and finally landed on this Crepe King Cake, it’s simple but it has many of the same elements and traditions of a King Cake. I started with my all time favorite recipe for The Best Basic Crepes and then layered them up with an airy, whipped mascarpone whipped cream laced with a kiss of cinnamon. In keeping with the classic moniker of purple, gold and green sprinkles, I dyed my own using natural food coloring and Bob’s Red Mill Sparkling Sugar. My colors are a bit more subdued but give a glitzy nod to New Orleans. The crepe cake is topped with fluffy whipped cream and layered with the colorful sprinkles just before serving. And, it wouldn’t be a Crepe King Cake without everybody’s favorite mascot, Baby JC hidden inside.
We visited The Big Easy last year for the first time and I’ve got to tell you, that city and the food really stole my heart. Read all about our trip and check out some of my favorite spots in the city on my blog post New Orleans Eats. If you can’t be in New Orleans, you can always eat like a New Orleanean, right? While this Crepe King Cake may not be the traditional King Cake, I think it’s about to become a Fat Tuesday tradition in our house.
Thin layers of the Best Basic Crepes and airy, mascarpone whipped cream laced with a cinnamon kiss, a modern take on the classic King Cake while still honoring tradition with Mardi Gras sprinkles & the hidden Baby Jesus figurine to bring luck & prosperity.
- 6 tablespoons sparkling or granulated sugar
- 2-3 drops each, yellow, green & purple (or red & blue) all natural food coloring
- 3 small plastic baggies
- 4 large eggs -at room temp
- 2 1/3 cups whole milk
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 2 1/3 cup all purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter -melted
- 1 1/2 cups mascarpone - at room temperature
- 1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream - cold
- 6 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
- 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Add 2 tablespoons of sparkling or granulated sugar to each of the 3 plastic baggies.
Then add 2-3 drops of yellow food coloring to the first baggie. Close the top and gently squish the food coloring into the sugar until fully saturated. Add more drops to deepen color to desired saturation. In another baggie, repeat with the green food coloring. And in the 3rd baggie, repeat with purple. If you don't have purple, add a combination of red and blue to make purple.
Leave colored sprinkle sugars in the baggies until ready to use.
Blend eggs, milk, sugar, and vanilla in a blender for a few minutes, until smooth and frothy.
Add flour, cinnamon and salt, blend just to combine. Cover batter and chill at least 1 hour up to 2 days.
Heat a medium nonstick skillet over medium-high, then brush with melted butter. Ladle about ¼ cup of the batter into skillet and swirl to evenly coat bottom.
Cook the crepe until bubbles form on the surface and the edges are golden, lacy and crisp, about 3 minutes.
Slide a spatula underneath the crepe to loosen and carefully flip over. Cook on the other side until a few brown spots appear, about 30 seconds to 1 minute, then transfer to a plate.
Repeat with remaining butter and batter. Allow crepes to cool at room temperature.
Place the mascarpone cheese in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, and whip on medium high for 1 minute. Slowly add heavy cream and sugar in the bowl and whip on medium high until it turns into light and fluffy, it should only take a minute or two. Fold in the cinnamon, and vanilla extract with a spatula.
Pour the cold, heavy cream into the bowl of a stand mixer (preferably chilled). Slowly pour in the sugar and vanilla extract and whip on medium high speed until it turns light and fluffy, it should only take a minute or two. Chill until ready to use.
On a cake stand or flat plate, begin by layering 1 crepe on the bottom. Then top with 2 heaping tablespoons of whipped mascarpone. Use a small spatula to spread the whipped mascarpone to the edges. Top with another crepe and repeat until the crepes and/or whipped mascarpone are all used up. You should have about 12 crepe layers. Hide the plastic Baby Jesus figurine somewhere between the layers.
Top with a big dollop of whipped cream and spread it evenly over the top of the cake.
Sprinkle the purple, green and gold sparkling sugar sprinkles in stripes over the top of the whipped cream.
Serve immediately or chill in the fridge until ready to serve.
*The crepes in this recipe are featured on my post The Best Basic Crepes.
*You can substitute store bought sugar sprinkles instead of making your own.
*This cake can be chilled for a few hours up to overnight, once it's fully assembled.