A few years ago, I attempted my first King Cake. The result was tasty, and although I was complemented many times over, it ended up a tad on the ugly side.
I’ve had plans each year since to remake the cake, hoping for a prettier turnout, but things caught up with me again this February and I ran out of time. However, I was able to carve a couple of hours out of this past Sunday to make these adorable King Cupcakes. The lemon oil lends a tart taste to the spicy nutmeg and the crumb, tender. My favorite part is the frosting recipe… which makes a perfectly exact amount for a dozen little cakes. Laissez lez bon temps rouler, folks!
1/2 c (half of an 8-oz pkg) Neufchatel cream cheese, at room temperature
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/8 tsp lemon oil
2 c Confectioners' sugar
Colored sugars, preferably purple, yellow, and green
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease and flour a 12-cup muffin tin; set aside. You can also line the muffin tins with papers, and spray the insides of the papers.
To make the cupcakes:
In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the sugar, flour, baking powder, nutmeg, and salt. Add the butter and beat with an electric mixer at low speed, until the mixture looks sandy.
Combine the milk, vanilla and lemon oil and add, all at once. Mix at low speed for 30 seconds, then increase the speed to medium and beat for 30 seconds. Scrape the bottom and sides of the mixing bowl. With the mixer running at low speed, add 1 egg. Increase the speed to medium and beat for 30 seconds. Add the second egg, again beating for 30 seconds. Scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl, and beat briefly, just till smooth.
Scoop the batter by heaping 1/4-cupfuls into the prepared muffin tin. A muffin scoop works well here. Bake the cupcakes for 23 to 25 minutes, until they've domed, and are a light golden brown around the edges. They'll spring back when pressed gently on top, and a toothpick inserted in the center will come out clean. Remove the cupcakes from the oven, and place on a rack to cool completely before icing.
To make the icing:
Combine the butter, cream cheese, vanilla, and lemon oil in a medium-sized bowl, and beat them together until light and fluffy. Add the sugar gradually, beating well. Pipe each cake with icing, and immediately sprinkle on purple, yellow and green sparkling sugars, covering about 1/3 of the cupcake with each colored sugar.
Store at room temperature for several days. For longer storage, wrap well and freeze.