Traditional Mardi Gras Dessert Recipe – King Cake with Cream Cheese Cinnamon Filling

Many visitors to Mardi Gras and Louisiana natives will tell you that king cake is a vital element of the Carnival season. King Cake is a traditional Mardi Gras dessert. (Photo courtesy of Holly Clegg)The icing colors on king cake represent the feted colors of Mardi Gras – power (yellow), faith (green), justice (purple).

“A king cake is a must during Carnival season,” says Louisiana native Allison Gouaux. “Traditionally, king cakes are made of dough twisted in a circular bread with white icing and purple, green and gold (the traditional Carnival colors) sprinkles. You can either get the traditional cinnamon-flavored cakes or get one ‘filled’ with either cream cheese, pralines, or other fruit flavors. Locals love king cakes from bakeries such as Haydel’s, Randazza’s, and Boulangerie (for a fancy French king cake).”

To follow is a recipe for the traditional Mardi Gras dessert, King Cake With Cream Cheese Cinnamon Filling, from best selling cookbook author and Baton Rouge resident Holly Clegg. The recipe features quick and easy steps and uses commonplace ingredients.


Makes 16 Servings

“Now, you can make a quick King Cake recipe in your own home any time, without worrying about a complicated yeast dough,” says “trim&Terrific™ Gulf Coast Favorites” cookbook author Holly Clegg. “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!”

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)

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


1 cup confectioner’s sugar
1-2 tablespoons skim milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Yellow, green, red, and blue food coloring

1.    In a small bowl, combine all ingredients, except food color. 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, and in third bowl add equal amounts of drops of red and blue food coloring (to create purple).
3.    Drizzle over baked cake.

** Recipe from trim&Terrific™ Gulf Coast Favorites by Holly Clegg
(Holly Clegg Publications; September 2008; $24.95, ISBN: 978-0-9815640-05/soft cover).

About the Expert:
Holly Clegg is the author of the best selling trim&Terrific™ cookbook series and Eating Well Through Cancer. The king cake recipe is from her latest book, Gulf Coast Favorites, with 10 percent of the proceeds being donated to the America’s WETLAND Foundation to fight coastal erosion and wetland loss in Louisiana. For more information, visit You can order Holly Clegg’s Trim & Terrific Gulf Coast Favorites (Paperback) from for $16.47.

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