This recipe for Mardi Gras King Poke Cake is a fun twist on the classic dessert, and the cinnamon filling and cream cheese frosting make this a cake truly fit for a king himself!
Laissez les bon temps rouler! Fat Tuesday is drawing near, and it’s been a true Mardi Gras party in my head as I’ve been brainstorming how I can incorporate my second favorite cake in the entire world – King Cake – into as many fun new recipes as I can. Making a true from-scratch King Cake is a labor of love. It requires a little bit of TLC and elbow grease, and when a King Cake craving hits me in the middle of the day, it isn’t exactly feasible to just whip one up on a whim.
That’s where the good ‘ol poke cake comes in to save the day! (And in case you were wondering – pineapple upside down cake takes the #1 spot in my book of favorite cakes.) 😉
If you’re unfamiliar with a poke cake, I’ll fill you in. A poke cake is a cake baked in a casserole dish or baking pan. Once the cake has cooled completely, holes are poked all throughout the cake and a sweet and creamy filling is poured over the entire cake, seeping into the holes and making the cake extra decadent and moist. Finally, a layer of frosting is added to the top – ready to decorate as you please!
This is definitely a “shortcut” recipe to traditional King Cake, but the flavor profile falls right along with the real deal. Plus, you can make this King Poke Cake in a fraction of the time it takes to make the real thing! Cinnamon, vanilla and cream cheese are the flavor superstars of King Cake – aside from the iconic purple, green and gold sprinkles on top and the baby hiding inside!
And speaking of the baby, you may be asking yourself what in the world that’s all about. It is pretty strange (and it seems like a choking hazard if we’re being completely honest,) but in many cultures that celebrate Mardi Gras, the baby is placed inside the cake after it is baked to represent baby Jesus and to symbolize luck and prosperity to whoever finds it in their slice of cake. The person who finds the baby is also responsible for buying or making the king cake at the next Mardi Gras celebration.
Here’s a free printable version of the recipe if you’d like to give it a try! King Cake is meant to be eaten with a cup of coffee, so grab a cup and enjoy a slice! (Did you know you can buy King Cake Flavored Coffee? You can!)
Mardi Gras King Cake Poke Cake
- 1 box yellow cake mix + ingredients needed to prepare cake on back of box
- 14 oz sweetened condensed milk
- 4 Tbs salted butter melted
- 1/2 cup brown sugar packed
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
- 1 8 oz block cream cheese softened
- 4 Tbs salted butter softened
- 1 cup powdered sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- Purple, green and gold sprinkles for garnish
- Bake box cake mix according to package instructions - a 9x13 pan works best for this recipe
- Allow cake to cool completely, then use the bottom of a wooden spoon to poke holes in the cake. Poke as many as you'd like!
- In a large bowl. combine melted butter, brown sugar, condensed milk and cinnamon and stir until sugar is dissolved
- Pour filling over cake and allow to soak through the holes
- In a separate large bowl, beat heavy whipping cream until stiff peaks form and set aside
- In another large bowl, beat cream cheese and butter together until there are no lumps.
- Add in powdered sugar and beat until smooth.
- Add in vanilla
- Fold in whipped cream and spread evenly over the top of the cake
- Refrigerate for 20-30 minutes before serving
If you’ve never had King Cake and are looking to give it a try, I highly recommend Mam Papaul’s King Cake boxed cake mix that’s available on Amazon. It has everything you need to make it (except eggs and butter) and the instructions are very straight forward! I buy Mam Papaul’s every year and we really enjoy it!
If you’re on the hunt for more Mardi Gras themed treats, check out these Mardi Gras Madeleines found right here on Southern Made Simple! Whether you celebrate the Mardi Gras season or if you just like to partake in a few of the confections related to the season like me, I hope you give this simple King Poke Cake a try and enjoy!