This King Cake has a pecan praline and cream cheese filling and is topped off with praline frosting! The brioche dough is light, buttery and incredibly moist. With a 100% whole grain option.
Did you know that King Cake isn’t just a Louisiana / Mardi Gras thing? They have King Cakes in France, Spain, Portugal, Latin American countries and some other places. But they don’t look like the Louisiana-style King Cakes we know covered in powdered sugar glaze and green, gold and purple sugar (you can see some pictures of international King Cakes at the bottom of this page if you’re interested!).
I’m wondering how many angry comments I’ll get on this post for not using the traditional powdered sugar glaze and colored sugar. ;) I was going to go with that but I was feeling too lazy to dye my sugar plus I’m not really into using food coloring and adding pure sugar on top of almost more pure sugar to my goodies.
So I used the same praline frosting that I used on my apple bundt cake. It was perfect! And so much more delicious than the traditional glaze.
I did find this article about unusual Mardi Gras King Cakes in New Orleans and figured that if their King Cakes weren’t covered in yellow, gold and purple, then my cake didn’t have to be, either. So ha! :D
This is definitely the fussiest recipe I’ve ever posted but it’s so worth it. First you make brioche dough and chill it overnight. If you want to skip that step, I have no idea how it’d work as I haven’t tried it. I’m thinking the overnight rest has something to do with flavors melding but I could be wrong. Then you have to make praline pecan filling and cream cheese filling and praline frosting. It’s better than any bakery King Cake I’ve had – so much more flavorful, buttery and rich!
I’ve made this cake so many times and I always make a mess out of it. The part where you take the two rolled up ends of dough and connect them to form a circle? I can never do that. I keep messing with it and then filling comes oozing out and it never looks good. But it always turns out okay because you’re going to cover it up with frosting, anyway! Plus it’s so delicious that I swear, nobody will care at all about how it looks.
I waited too long to frost my King Cake and the frosting had hardened a little too much and you can see the frumpy result in that second picture. I contemplated not posting this King Cake recipe for about two seconds due to its appearance and then realized how insane that’d be.
The praline filling yields quite a bit. When I had only put on half the filling, I already thought it was too much and that I should stop. I also had no idea how I would be able roll to up the dough! But it worked. Don’t skimp on the filling because it’s really not all that much.
And who loves my Mardi Gras decorations?! I totally forgot to bring some back from New Orleans and so for these pictures, I turned to using a chip bag and upside down green and purple cupcake liners.
King Cake with Praline Cream Cheese Filling and Frosting (100% whole grain option)
- Prep Time:
- Cook Time:
- Ready in:
- Yield: 12 slices
- 1 envelope (2 1/4 teaspoons) active dry yeast
- 2 tablespoons warm water (115ºF / 46ºC)
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons coconut sugar or granulated sugar
- 1/4 cup (60 milliliters) whole milk
- 1 tablespoon orange zest
- 2 large eggs, room temperature
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 2 cups (250 grams) white whole wheat flour or all-purpose flour
- 10 tablespoons (140 grams) cold unsalted butter, cut into very small pieces
- 1 egg white beaten with 1 tablespoon water for the eggwash
- 8 ounces (225 grams) cream cheese, softened
- 1/4 cup (50 grams) raw or granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- pinch of salt
- 1/4 cup (56 grams) unsalted butter, softened
- 2 large egg yolks
- 1/2 cup (100 grams) coconut sugar or brown sugar, firmly packed
- pinch of salt
- 1/4 teaspoon maple or vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup (55 grams) chopped and toasted pecans
- 6 tablespoons (75 grams) coconut sugar or brown sugar
- 3 tablespoons (42 grams) unsalted butter
- 2 1/2 teaspoons whole milk
- pinch of salt
- 3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 9 tablespoons (65 grams) powdered sugar
- 1 plastic baby trinket
- about 1/2-3/4 cup toasted chopped pecans
For the dough:
For the cream cheese filling:
For the praline filling:
For the frosting:
- Dissolve yeast with the water in the bowl of a stand mixer which has been fitted with the dough hook. Let stand 10 minutes until frothy. Meanwhile, dissolve the salt, sugar, milk and orange zest in a small bowl and add to the yeast mixture after the 10 minute waiting period.
- With the mixer on low, add the 2 eggs, cinnamon, and then gradually add the flour. You may not need the full 2 cups – the dough should be a little tacky but not sticky (it shouldn't stick to your hand when you touch it). Knead on low speed for 10 minutes, or until a smooth elastic dough is formed. It may be that you need to add a little more flour. While still on low, add the butter until incorporated, a little at a time.
- Put the dough into an oiled bowl, cover loosely with plastic wrap and let it rise for 1 hour in a warm spot. Once the dough has doubled in bulk, punch it down, cover and place in the refrigerator overnight.
- The next morning, prepare the fillings. For the praline filling, stir the butter, egg yolks, sugar and salt together in a medium saucepan over medium heat. While stirring constantly, bring to a boil. Continue stirring for another 3-5 minutes or until it's thickened and pulls away from the side of the pan. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the maple extract and chopped nuts. Let cool about 20 minutes and then place in the refrigerator for about an hour.
- For the cream cheese filling, beat the cream cheese and sugar at medium speed until light and fluffy. Add the vanilla and salt and beat until combined. Place in the refrigerator until ready to use.
- After the praline filling has chilled, take out the dough of the refrigerator and flour a clean surface. I like to use a large sheet of parchment paper so that I don't have to worry about transferring the rolled up dough. Roll the dough out to a 8"x18" rectangle. Make sure to flour your parchment paper very well so that the dough doesn’t stick. It warms up pretty quickly and it will stick if you don’t flour the paper enough.
- Dollop spoonfuls of the cream cheese filling in the middle of the rectangle along the whole length, leaving about 1 1/2 inch on each side. Spoon the pecan filling over the cream cheese filling.
- Fold the dough over the filling lengthwise and pinch the two sides together. Transfer the roll to a parchment lined baking sheet. If you rolled out your dough on a piece of parchment paper, just continue to the next step.
- Flip the dough over so that the seam is on the bottom. Turn the roll into an oval, and put one end into the other end to hide the seam. Seal the circle by pinching the dough together. Loosely cover (I spray plastic wrap with PAM so that it doesn’t stick) and let rise until doubled in bulk, which could take anywhere from 45 – 60 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat your oven to 350ºF (177ºC). After the dough has doubled in bulk, brush all over with egg wash, and then bake for 20 – 30 minutes until golden brown.
- When the cake has cooled, prepare the frosting. In a small saucepan over medium heat, mix together the coconut sugar, butter, milk and salt. Whisking continuously, bring to a boil and continue boiling, while whisking continuously, for 1 minute. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the vanilla. Gradually whisk in the powdered sugar and mix until totally smooth. Stir occasionally for about 3 minutes or until the frosting has slightly thickened. Immediately pour over the cooled King cake. If you wait until the frosting is too cool, it'll make glazing the cake more difficult (which you can see in my pictures). If it's thickened too much, place back on the heat for a few moments until it's more liquid. Immediately sprinkle the chopped pecans over the top.
- Hide the baby somewhere in the cake and serve! Keeps well at room temperature for 1 day or refrigerated for up to 5 days. Reheats well in the microwave at half-power.
For the dough:
Dough adapted from King Cake Recipe on NOLA Cuisine and the pecan filling was adapted from Praline Filling from Wilton.
66 comments on “King Cake with Pecan Praline Cream Cheese Filling” — Add one!
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Would it be possible to bake this in a 12 cup (standard) bundt pan (like the Anniversary one by Nordicware)? I love how those look, but this recipe sounds amazing and I would like to try the two ideas together.
I’m really not very hopeful that that would work. It’s an amazing idea but I would recommend finding a recipe that’s meant for a bundt pan so that you can be sure that it works and so that you have the right baking time. Sorry about that!
I made this for a Fat Tuesday party. I used my favorite brioche, however, and only used the filing and frosting recipe given here. It was sooooo good!!
I’m so sorry for just now seeing your comment! It landed in spam for some weird reason. I’m really glad that you enjoyed the cake! Thanks a ton for your feedback and sorry again for my slow reply.
A Gluten-free version up next? Maybe using Americas Test Kitchen flour recipe? I’ve had tremendous success with their gluten-free recipes. You never fail to produce a successful GF recipe, so how about King Cake. Btw, my last name is King. Seems fitting :-)
How I wish I could help you with your request! There are so many ingredients in this recipe that I can’t eat anymore (I can only have 4 of the listed ingredients) that it wouldn’t be possible for me. :( It’s really sad because I LOVE this recipe. I’d suggest experimenting with the mix you like (if it’s a 1-to-1 mix) and seeing how it comes out. I’ve never used that mix and don’t have access to it where I love so I honestly have no idea if it’d work. Sorry I can’t be more helpful!
I just made this amazing recipe. I live in New Orleans and my coworkers LOVED it. A little time intensive, but well worth it!
Aww, yay! What a nice comment. I was so happy to read it! Thanks a ton for your feedback. I’m thrilled that you and your coworkers loved it!
I live in Alaska, and they have no idea what a King cake is, so I made a normal one with cream cheese and cinnamon cake. I have seen bakers who change the color for Easter, Christmas, Thanksgiving and other holidays. Now, I need to try this one. It looks and sounds wonderful.
I live in Munich and they don’t know what it is, either. ;) I hope that you’ll get to the chance to try this one! I’d love to hear how it comes out.
I’ve always wanted to make a from-scratch king cake, and made one last night for my family. It was a raging success! My 7yo and I heated some up for breakfast, and are enjoying it now. I love to bake, and this was super fun to make. :)
I’m so very happy to hear that it was a success! And I love that you thought it was a fun process. It was kind of frustrating for me. ;) And oh my goodness. Isn’t reheated king cake the BEST breakfast ever?! Such fond memories for me. :) Thanks for your comment!
I made this cake last year for Epiphany, Erin, and that praline cream cheese filling absolutely blew our minds! I didn’t plan ahead well enough so we had to have it the day after (with all the rising/resting needed) but I won’t make that mistake again. I’ll start a day ahead of time and our Epiphany & Mardi Gras celebrations will never be without this centerpiece. Thanks so much for sharing the recipe – it is nothing short of divine!
This is the first feedback I’ve gotten for this recipe so I was super excited to read your comment! I’m so very happy that you enjoyed the cake. :) The filling is my favorite part, too! And I’m thrilled that you’re going to be making it every year. It’s a pain in the butt to make but totally doable once a year. ;) Thanks again for your nice comment!
I’m from the New Orleans area and I always see non-dyed king cakes, specifically praline (with a glaze like yours) and chocolate. A few places do king cakes for every holiday, and recently savory king cakes have become a thing (like crawfish filled..no icing lol).
The best really are homemade..which is how I got to your page.. my family has been requesting praline filled :)
That’s good to know! We don’t have much selection in Texas. And with chocolate?! Yum! I hope to try that one day. I think I’ll pass on the crawfish filled cakes, though. ;) I hope you’ll enjoy the cake if you give it a try! It’s one of my very favorite treats. If only it were quicker to make! I’d love to hear how it comes out if you try it. :)
Hi, Jenny, hope you are doing good. I was reading this recipe for the king cake …I want to save it to make later….but can’t find any method for saving it in the recipe part….do you know if there is any way that I could save without having to write it ?…thank you so much in advance!
Hi Janice! Do you see in the recipe card (under the title) where there’s a square picture of the cake with 5 pink hearts above it? Under the picture is a gray button that says, “PRINT.” Click on that and then you can print the recipe or just save it. Or you could copy and paste the recipe and put it into a word document and save it that way. I hope that helps!
Looks awesome I bet a big cup of hot coffee and a slice of that would be heaven in every bite.
I can pretty much guarantee you it is. ;) Hope you get to try it out!
I think your version of king cake looks WAY better than the normal king cake. I know this is going to sound dumb but the traditional version is just too colorful – it sorta freaks me out…haha. This cake just make me want it for a midnight snack!
Haha. It is quite colorful! Doesn’t sound dumb at all. :)
Oh, that’s praline frosting! YUM. This looks amazing. But I have to confess: I’ve never had king cake at all! This looks way more enticing to me than the multicolored, sugar coated versions.
And it’s more delicious, too! I hope you get a chance to try king cake some time soon. :)
This is truly gorgeous, and I could eat a ton of this. I think it’s cool you made the year round version. Honestly I think it’s smarter to not colour it, that way the post is good year round. I mean if they do it where King Cake originates from then you should be able to as well. Plus so many folks are moving away from colourings so this is a good thing.
Why, thank you! I’m happy you agreed with my decoration decision. :D And you’re right – I can pin this thing year-round now. Sounds good to me!
I’ve never had King Cake….but I’ve also never had a dessert with pecan praline that I have not liked…. so I can’t wait to try this one. Looks yummy!
Thanks a bunch! And you should totally get on changing that. ;)
I haven’t even heard of King Cakes before! It sure looks tasty :) I’m glad your not using artificial food dye – natural is so much better! It’s quite the project but I bet it’s SO worth it!!
I knew you’d appreciate the lack of food coloring. ;) And King Cake is a Mardi Gras thing!
hahaha no angry comment for me. Ok maybe because you didn’t invite me for a bite.
That would have been fun! Next time. :)
I love King Cakes! I think a praline cream cheese filling idea and that luscious frosting is a fun version (how could anyone be mad!?!). Just how to get a piece to enjoy this morning with my cappuccino? :)
It’s all gone now – otherwise I would have shared! ;)
I had no idea that King Cake was an international proposition. I really appreciate your use of Brioche as a basis for this cake. Nice!
Neither did I until I started writing this post. ;)
I’m so glad you decided to post this (even if it’s not as pretty as you had hoped). To me, it looks amazing and my mouth is seriously drooling at that pecan praline cream cheese filling! PINNING!!!
Thanks a ton for pinning! :)
I have never had king cake before, but I have to tell you, yours looks os much better than with all those crazy colors on it! Love this cake!
Haha. I know you certainly don’t mind the lack of food coloring! ;)
King cakes are the best, and I love this variation! What a great idea! It’s all about the celebration, not the exact recipe. I sure would hope no one would get upset about this!
Aww. That’s a nice way to think about it! Thanks. :)
I’m embarrassed to say Ive never heard of a King Cake before nor have I tried it, but man it looks heavenly! Seriously that praline filling is outrageous!
Thanks so much! I’m happy to have introduced the two of you. ;)
Let me be your first angry comment………kidding!!!!!!! This is awesome and I love your twist on it! Always wanted to try a King Cake and no better time than now :)
Haha. :D And I agree – it’s time to try one!
I love king cake and your recipe looks fabulous. I’m trying it this year
I hope you will!
I love normal King Cake but I think that I might love your King Cake even more! The topping on yours just looks fantastic! I wish that I had some of that praline frosting right now!
Same here! We ate this thing way too quickly.
I love your topping, and the cake looks worth every bit of trouble. But that filling!!! Give me alllllll the filling :)
Hahaha. No! But we can share. ;)
I grew up in New Orleans and you can find King Cakes year round without the traditional colors. I happen to love the praline cream-cheese filled ones and yours looks fantastic!
Really?! I had no idea. I googled it and only found one store where they have them year-round. It must be a local secret! ;)
This looks so yummy! I want to make this asap!
I hope you will! :)
This sounds so amazing! I’ve never had a King Cake but now I really want to try one!
Oh! You have to try. Starting with this one! ;)
Wow! I never realized how much work goes into making a king cake! :) And I like it without all the colored sugars, lol. It looks perfect!
Haha. It’s such a pain but worth it in the end. ;)
It looks tasty but is a little involved. I didn’t realize they were yeast breads. I thought just a regular cake.
It is indeed involved! But seriously, so worth it. ;)
That Mardi Gras Cake looks amazing!!!
That is one good looking cake! And honestly, as pretty as Mardi Gras king cakes are to look at, I’d take your non-dyed version anytime.
Aww! I figured you’d appreciate that. :) Thanks!