Chocolate-Cinnamon King Cake

Monday, March 7, 2011

Okay, okay...I have to confess that I've never celebrated Mardi Gras in my life.  In fact I was so totally ignorant about the  day that I didn't even know there were  traditional foods that were associated with it until our local newspaper recently dedicated their food section to King Cakes.  After I stopped drooling on the paper, I decided that despite my cultural ignorance, I needed to make a King Cake as soon as possible.  This recipe for the cake originally came  from a babka bread recipe in Peter Reinhart’s Artisan Breads Everyday, but I got the adapted King Cake version  from the Washington Post and the delicious chocolate-cinnamon filling from Purple Foodie.   The cake itself had a very nice texture--buttery, golden, and perfect.  And the rich chocolatey filling complimented the pastry perfectly and made it sinfully delicious!   Even if you're like me---not French, not Catholic, and a complete teetotaler, I recommend celebrating this Mardi Gras with a little King Cake! 

NOTE:  Apparently we didn't make the glaze thick enough to make the colored sugar really stand out against the white, but that was due to our inexperience, and not the recipe. 

Click here for printable recipe. 

The ingredients:

2 Tbs. active dry yeast
3/4 cup warm milk (heated to about 115 degrees)
6 Tbs. unsalted butter, softened
2 Tbs. vegetable oil
6 Tbs. sugar
4 large egg yolks
1 tsp. vanilla extract
3-1/2 cups flour (plus more for dusting the work surface)
1 tsp. kosher salt
small plastic baby or heat proof gold coin, optional (can be found at craft stores)

8-ounces dark chocolate, coarsely grated
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 cup butter, softened or melted
1 large egg white
2 Tbs. water


1 cup powdered syrup
~1 Tbs. corn syrup (or milk)
~1 tsp. almond extract (or vanilla)
Colored sugar, for garnish

For the cake, in a small bowl whisk the yeast into lukewarm milk; let sit for about 5 minutes.  Meanwhile, combine the butter, oil, and sugar in a medium sized bowl until smooth.  Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the yolks to the bowl one at a time, beating for 30 seconds between each addition.  Add the vanilla extract and mix until light and fluffy.  Add the flour and salt, then the milk mixture.  Beat on low speed or stir by hand for 2-3 minutes to form a soft dough. Knead for an additional 3 minutes.   Place dough in a large well-greased bowl and cover tightly with plastic wrap; allow to rise for 1-2 hours. 

While dough is rising, make chocolate cinnamon filling, by mixing all the ingredients together in a small bowl.  Set aside.  (Note:  The recipe said to grate the chocolate, but we chopped it instead.  We liked it with the bigger chunks of chocolate, but either way would be good.)

Punch dough down and roll it out on a well floured work surface,  into a 15-inch square about 1/4-inch thin. Make sure to keep the bottom well dusted with flour, so that it doesn't stick.  Spread chocolate-cinnamon filling over the surface of the dough.  Roll the sheet of dough like a jelly roll, then pinch the seams to seal it.  Gently stretch and roll to form a log that is about 24-inches long. 

Cut the log down the middle lengthwise, making sure not to cut through one end.  Twist the 2 halves over each other to achieve a braided look.  Pinch to seal the seam.   Place braided cake  on a well-greased rimmed baking sheet.  If desired, insert a plastic baby (or heatproof gold coin) deep into the dough.  Cover loosely with plastic wrap and allow the dough to rise for about 1-2 hours or until the dough is approximately 1-1/2 times its original size. 

At this point, the dough is ready for baking, or it can be covered and refrigerated overnight. 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Make egg wash by whisking together the egg white and water.  Use a pastry brush to coat the surface of the dough with the egg wash. 

Bake for 20-25 minutes, then rotate the baking sheet and bake for an additional 10 minutes, or until cake is golden brown.  Let the cake cool on the baking sheet for 30 minutes, then transfer cake to wire rack to cool completely. 

NOTE:  Don’t mind how thin our glaze is.  We just added too much liquid and didn’t realize until it was too late that the colored sugar kind of got lost without the thick glaze. 

For the glaze, place the powdered sugar in a medium bowl.  Whisk in just enough corn syrup (or milk) and almond extract to form a barely pourable glaze.  Use a knife to "paint" the cake with the glaze.  Sprinkle with colored sugar if desired.  Let the icing set before serving. 



ann@Apples and Twinkies March 7, 2011 at 11:51 PM  

Since we're all being honest I've never done anything for Mardi Gras either. But now that i see this King Cake I'd love to make one. It looks heavenly and unique.

Karey March 8, 2011 at 8:05 AM  

Now I feel like making this for breakfast! Wish I'd started a few hours ago! :)

Meaghan Luby March 8, 2011 at 9:16 AM  

best king cake recipe i have seen so far! thanks for sharing!

Kim March 8, 2011 at 10:17 AM  

The chocolate cinnamon filling is completely winning me over!

teresa March 8, 2011 at 2:57 PM  

i think this is the first year i've heard about it too, but now i'm seeing them everywhere! i love the colors, it looks totally delicious!

Anonymous,  March 8, 2011 at 5:12 PM  

This is AWESOME! Can I bring the coffee and come enjoy a slice with you???? Love this!!

Anil Sharma August 11, 2015 at 6:40 AM  

Like your way of seeing things! Still you may do some things to expand on it. Thanks for sharing with us!

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San Antonio Personal Injury Lawyers October 12, 2017 at 2:20 AM  

This is fantastic! I will make one for next week. How simple!

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My name is Lara and while I'm definitely not a gourmet cook, I do love preparing tasty, healthy meals for my family. Finding new recipes to try and sharing the ones we've already fallen in love with is a passion I've had since college and the reason why I've started this blog! With five kids, I'm usually in a hurry, so you'll find most of these recipes kid friendly and simple to make.

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