Behold the king cake that I fashioned late last night in celebration of today's holiday. Before you are too terribly impressed, let me tell you that this is a TOTAL fake-out recipe. A quickie. A cheater. A Sandra Lee, but actually comes to us by way of the High King of Mardi Gras, Emeril Lagasse (so it must be legit). If you dig into the archives from last February and read about my struggles with last year's king cake, you may understand why I've chosen the easy route this time around. Not only am I consumed with play rehearsals this week, my beloved friend, June, who hails from The Big Easy originally, is hosting a Mardi Gras dinner tonight, and she is making a proper king cake for us to enjoy. This quickie version is made with....wait for it....drumroll, please...CRESCENT ROLLS--my favorite cheater ingredient of all! (Crescent rolls for the Crescent City...it's a stretch, I know, but go with it!) In all my practicing for the Pillsbury Bake-Off over the years, I have reached the conclusion that there is nothing that can't be made with a good old can of crescent rolls. It's not traditional, true, but every king cake I've tried has been on the dry side, just shy of inedible, despite taking hours and hours, or even days to make. This can be made, start to finish, in under an hour, and is truly yummy, rather like a cheese Danish. I also think it would be a great food project for kids to make. As is my way, I have made some additions, deletions, and conversions, but I highly recommend this very simplified recipe for your Mardi Gras celebration when you don't have the time or strength of will to make a king cake from scratch.
Emeril's Quick King Cake
(Source: adapted from www.recipezaar.com)
1 can crescent rolls (I used the larger ones--6 rolls instead of 8)
1/4 cup cinnamon (whoa! that's a LOT of cinnamon--I used more like a generous tablespoon)
1/4 cup butter, softened
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup powdered sugar (this is half of what the originally recipe called for, but trust me, with all the decorative sugar that you'll be putting on top, 1/2 cup is more than enough!)
1 small can fruit pie filling, your choice of flavor (I omitted this as I like the filling to be unadulterated cream cheese!)
a tiny baby or bead or bean
icing (recipe follows)
colored crystals in purple, gold, and green (or granulated sugar mixed with a few drops of food coloring)
- After opening the can of crescent rolls, unroll in one piece. With your fingers, press seams together to form one piece of dough.
- Mix together butter and cinnamon, gently spread over the dough.
- Mix together cream cheese and powdered sugar. Drop teaspoons over the top of the dough.* Drop teaspoonfuls of pie filling (cherry, blueberry or peach) over the dough as you did the cream cheese.
- Starting on the long end, carefully roll the dough, horizontally, with the filling and cream cheese inside. Insert plastic baby/bead/bean at any place within the dough.
- Place on lined baking pan with the seam side down in a circle, pinching the ends together.**
- Bake at 350 for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown.
- While the cake is baking, use the food coloring to dye the sugar.
- When cake is cool, pour icing over the top of the cake. Sprinkle with the colored sugar, alternating the three colors as you go around the circle.
- For icing: Combine 1 cup of powdered sugar, 1 tbsp lemon juice and 1 tbsp water (and I like a splash of vanilla for good measure) until smooth.
**If I were making this cake for more than just myself and my roommate (and/or if we didn't still have leftover cinnamon rolls!), I might double the recipe, using two cans of crescent rolls, and joining the two pieces together to make a bigger circle for a party-sized king cake.