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Mini Cream Cheese-Stuffed King Cakes

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Obviously, we are just a tad bit past Mardi Gras. But, if you are anything like me, it doesn't matter because you're always on the look out for a great recipe regardless of its seasonality. So bookmark, print out or pin this one - because when Mardi Gras rolls back around you'll definitely want to try this recipe from Confections of a Foodie Bride.

I volunteered to make King Cake for our this month's "Mardi Gras/New Orleans" supper club. But doing just a typical King Cake didn't thrill me so much. Cream cheese filled King Cake was a little bit better. Then I found this recipe for little cream cheese filled cupcakes and I knew it was the winner.

These definitely take awhile to make - but not near as long as most King Cakes.  And the flavor is just as great. Like your typical King Cake, these are not overly sweet. It's more a yeasty cinnamon roll that a cupcake.

I loved the way these turned out and they seemed to be a big hit at our supper club.

A couple of notes:
- I found it necessary to double the batch of glaze. I would suggest doing this from the start and not midway through having to make more.
- Next time I make these, I would increase the amount of cream cheese filling to make it more pronounced. Perhaps double it, but be sure to adjust the baking time to accommodate the extra filling.

Mini King Cakes or King Cake Cupcakes

For the dough:
1 cup warm water
1/4 cup sugar, divided
1 pkg (2 1/4 tsp) yeast
1 egg
1 egg yolk
4 Tbsp butter, melted
3 1/2 cups flour, plus more for dusting work surface
1 tsp salt
Oil or cooking spray, for coating bowl

For the cream cheese filling:
8 oz cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup + 2 Tbsp sugar
1 egg yolk
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 rounded tsp cinnamon
2 Tbsp melted butter

For the glaze:
3/4 cup powdered sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla
3-4 tsp water
Decorating sugar in yellow, purple and green

Add water and 1 Tbsp sugar to the bowl of your stand mixer. Sprinkle yeast over top and let stand for 10 minutes. (If your yeast doesn't get puffy, don't keep going - buy new yeast.)

Add melted butter, egg, egg yolk, remaining sugar, 3 cups flour, and salt, and then turn the mixer to low.
Add only enough extra flour to get the dough to clean the sides of the bowl but not come completely off the bottom - it should be only slightly sticky when you touch it.

Transfer to a lightly oiled bowl, cover, and let rise in a warm place until doubled (45 minutes-1 hour in my 100-degree oven). While dough is rising, make the filling.

Place filling ingredients into the mixer bowl (minus the melted butter) and mix on medium-high until completely smooth, 1-2 minutes.

Preheat oven to 375 and line 2 cupcake pans with 18 liners.

Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead a few times.

Stretch to a rectangle about 18x12 and brush with 2 Tbsp melted butter, leaving the top 1-inch dry.

Spread cream cheese filling over the dough evenly, leaving the top 1-inch dry.

Starting with the long side of the dough closest to you, roll jelly-roll style, pinching the last inch of the dough onto the roll and placing seam-down on the counter.

Lightly pat/pull so that the roll is even diameter down its length.

Trim the scraggly ends and then slice into rounds that are ~3/4-1 inch thick. Take care that they don't get any thicker than that, the rolls should sit level/just below level of the cupcake pan. Any taller and they'll grow too tall in the oven and fall over.

Transfer the rounds to the cupcake pans and let rest while the oven preheats to 375.

Bake ~25 minutes, until lightly browned and nicely domed.

Remove from the oven and let cool ~10 minutes in the pan.

Transfer to a rack to cool completely.

To make the glaze, whisk powdered sugar, vanilla, and gradually add the water until you get a smooth and thick but scoopable glaze.

Dip the tops of the cupcakes in the glaze (or spoon over top) and then sprinkle with decorating sugar. Like cinnamon rolls, they're best in the first 2 days. If you're bringing them to a party, ice/sugar them the night before. When stored in an airtight container for much longer than that, the sugar and glaze will begin to melt from the pastry moisture. Delicious still, just not as cute.

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