Healthy King Cake Recipe (made for Mardi Gras)
Mardi Gras is one of the brightest, flashiest events of the year. Of course, there are the grand parades, the energetic music, the colorful beads, extravagant masks and costumes, BIG parties, and more than a little booze flowing through the streets. And at the center of the event is this healthy King Cake recipe. This traditional sweet treat is colorful and has a lucky surprise baked in to help celebrate this over-the-top celebration.
What is King Cake? What Does it Mean?
The King Cake is less like a cake and more like a wreath-shaped Danish pastry. Traditionally, it’s a brioche bun that’s flavored with cinnamon and sugar and brightly decorated with the signature gold, green, and purple sugar or frosting. Some chefs have expanded the flavors and added their own flare with cream cheese, nuts, and/or fruit fillings. Others have used it as a flavor for everything from coffee to cocktails.
The colors are Mardi Gras official, and each is used for a specific reason:
- Gold = power
- Green = faith
- And purple = justice.
Together, this traditional Mardi Gras cake symbolizes the unity of faiths.
King Cakes can be found year-round in New Orleans and Rio de Janeiro (the most popular Mardi Gras Carnival locations), though some of the colors may be left out. Traditionally, though, they’re eaten during the Carnival season before Fat Tuesday, which is the day before Lent begins and before Easter preparations are in full swing.
The Baby in the King Cake
Another traditional “ingredient” found in the cake is often surprising—the baby. That is, a tiny plastic baby is often hidden inside each King Cake. Why the baby? King Cakes were originally associated with Epiphany or Three Kings Day, a Christian holiday that commemorates the story of the three wise men’s visit to baby Jesus, which falls on January 6. So many mistakenly think the baby represents baby Jesus.
Instead, the tradition began in the late 19th century with a social club known as the Twelfth Night Revelers in New Orleans, which would hide a bean in the cake. Whoever got the slice with the bean was then proclaimed the Mardi Gras ball king or queen. Later, in the early 1940s, the bean was replaced with the plastic baby.
With so many cakes with plastic babies available, you won’t necessarily be crowned king or queen unless it’s your own ball. Instead, your prize is, depending on the gathering, the chance to bring next year’s cake, host next year’s party, or enjoy good fortune for the year (or all of the above).
Healthy King Cake Recipe
For those of us who can’t travel to the celebration, fortunately, we can bring the cake home. Better yet, with the recipe below, we can enjoy the delicious dessert anytime we want year-round (with or without the baby). We’ve even trimmed some of the calories and enhanced the nutrition to ensure we aren’t weighed down and have the energy to participate fully in the festivities.
So, turn on your favorite Mardi Gras playlist, and let’s get to baking this healthy King Cake recipe.
- 5 eggs
- 4 tbsp grass-fed butter melted
- ½ cup Swerve sugar substitute
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 4 oz cream cheese softened
- 2 tsp baking powder
- ½ tsp psyllium husk powder
- 1 cup almond flour
- ¼ cup coconut flour
Middle Layer Ingredients
- 2 tbsp cinnamon
- ¼ cup Swerve sugar substitute
- 3 tbsp butter melted
- 2 tbsp butter softened
- 1 oz cream cheese softened
- ⅓ cup heavy whipping cream
- ¼ cup Swerve confectioner’s sugar substitute
- 1 tsp vanilla
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
- Whisk together the eggs, butter, Swerve sweetener, and vanilla.
- Add the cream cheese and beat with an electric hand mixer until well incorporated.
- Mix in the flours, psyllium husk powder, and baking powder until well combined. Set aside.
- Combine filling ingredients (cinnamon, Swerve, melted butter) in a small bowl.
- Layer cake batter, filling, then cake batter into a greased Bundt pan.
- *Optional: add a baby into the batter.
- Bake in the oven for 30 – 35 minutes until it begins to brown on top.
- While the cake is baking, make icing by combining all ingredients until smooth and creamy.
- Once the cake is completely cooled, top it with the frosting and add colorful sprinkles.