King Cake Cupcakes Recipe

"Less yeasty and more cake-like than king cake, these quick cakes get you the vanilla-nutmeg-lemon-buttermilk flavor and fun colors of a traditional king cake – without waiting around for a yeasted dough to rise."


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  • Cupcakes:
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 2 tablespoons white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
  • 2 egg whites
  • 2/3 cup buttermilk
  • Cream Cheese Frosting:
  • 1/2 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
  • 1/4 cup butter, softened
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 2 3/4 cups powdered sugar, or more as needed
  • Gold luster dust and green and purple sanding sugars
  • Directions

  • Prep
  • Cook
  • Ready In
    1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Line a 12-cup muffin pan with paper cup liners.
    2. Stir together flour, baking powder, nutmeg, baking soda, and salt in a bowl. Cream butter, 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar, and vanilla in a large bowl with an electric mixer until well combined. Add egg whites, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Alternately add half of the flour mixture, all the buttermilk, and remaining flour mixture, beating after each addition until just combined.
    3. Spoon batter into prepared muffin cups, filling each about 3/4 full, and smooth tops with the back of a spoon.
    4. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the centers comes out clean, 15 to 20 minutes. Cool in the pan for 5 minutes. Remove from the pan and cool completely on a wire rack, about 30 minutes.
    5. Meanwhile, make frosting. Blend cream cheese, butter, lemon juice, and lemon zest with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Gradually beat in powdered sugar to reach a spreading consistency.
    6. Frost cooled cupcakes and decorate with luster dust and sanding sugars.


    • Cook’s Note:
    • Substitute vanilla extract for the paste, if preferred.

    Nutrition Facts

    Per Serving: 317 calories;11.2 g fat;52.5 g carbohydrates;2.9 g protein;31 mg cholesterol;201 mg sodium.Full nutrition
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