King Cake with Cream Cheese Cinnamon Filling Recipe

Cookbook author Holly Clegg's easy King Cake recipe.

Holly Clegg's Mardi Gras King Cake Recipe

King Cake recipe from Holly Clegg.

Bite into a slice of King Cake and you’ll find soft, buttery pastry with layers of sweet cinnamon swirls, smooth cream cheese, chewy nuts and tart fruit fillings, all topped with icing in yellow, green and purple — the colors of Mardi Gras.

King Cake is a must-have at any true Mardi Gras celebration. This dessert was originally eaten just after Christmas on January 6, Kings Day. King Cake started out as a way for Roman Catholics in Europe to celebrate the arrival of the three wisemen — the three kings — in Bethlehem and their presentation of gifts to the baby Jesus.

You can find this decadent treat in bakeries, sweet shops and restaurants across Louisiana from early January until Ash Wednesday. Each cake also contains a hidden treasure — a small plastic baby — and if you find the baby in the cake, that means you must buy the next King Cake!

While there are many places to get a delicious King Cake in Louisiana, here are a few places you can try: Doce Vida Brazilian Bakery in Alexandria, Sweetime Bakery in Baton Rouge and Manny Randazzo’s in Metairie.

You can also bake your own Mardi Gras classic, thanks to Holly Clegg, who was known for her healthy yet quick and tasty meals. From her “Trim and Terrific Gulf Coast Favorites Cookbook,” this King Cake recipe eliminates the worry of working with a complicated yeast dough. “Kids love helping with this cake year-round. Try red and pink colors for Valentine’s Day, pastels for Easter and red and green for Christmas,” she shared. For more great recipes from Holly, visit her blog

Ingredients for King Cake:

  • 2 (8-ounce) cans reduced-fat crescent rolls
  • 4 ounces reduced-fat cream cheese
  • 2 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/3 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • Mardi Gras Icing (recipe below)

Method of preparation:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Coat 10-inch round pizza pan with nonstick cooking spray.
  2. Separate crescent rolls at perforations into 16 slices. Place slices around prepared pan with points in the center. About halfway down from points, press seams together.
  3. In mixing bowl, beat cream cheese, confectioners’ sugar, and vanilla until creamy. Spread on dough in the center where seams have been pressed together.
  4. In another small bowl, combine butter, brown sugar and cinnamon with a fork until crumbly. Sprinkle over cream cheese. Fold dough points over filling, then fold bottom of triangle over points forming circular roll like king cake.
  5. Bake about 20 to 25 minutes or until golden brown. Cool slightly and drizzle with colored Mardi Gras Icing. 

Ingredients for Mardi Gras Icing:

  • 1 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons skim milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Yellow, green, red and blue food coloring

Method of preparation:

  1. In a small bowl, combine all ingredients, except food coloring. Divide mixture into three bowls. 
  2. In first bowl, add a few drops of yellow food coloring. In second bowl, add a few drops of green food coloring. In third bowl, add equal amounts of drops of red and blue food coloring (to create purple).
  3. Drizzle over cooled cake.

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