For residents of Louisiana, Mardi Gras is synonymous with a grand, multi-day party. In New Orleans, Fat Tuesday—the last day of the Carnival season—is replete with parades, colorful beaded necklaces, and krewes overflowing with creative costumes and floats. And while there’s plenty of parade-goers throwing back plastic cups filled with Hurricanes on Bourbon Street, there’s one dish that’s invariably recognized as the star of Mardi Gras: king cake.
Traditionally, king cake is a domed, sweet cake, often braided into plaits and crowned with frosting and sprinkles. So it should come as no surprise that this purple-, yellow-, and green-studded cake is a prolific feature in Mardi Gras celebrations. But this isn’t just any cake. Hidden inside is a ceramic baby, and if you’re lucky enough to be handed the slice with it inside, you’re guaranteed luck in the new year—and loaded with the responsibility of purchasing next year’s cake.
Related Reading: 12 Ways to Get Your King Cake Fix for Mardi Gras
“The king cake is a pastry to honor the three kings,” Breanne Kostyk, pastry chef at Josephine Estelle in New Orleans, explains. “The Mardi Gras season begins 12 days after Christmas and lasts until the day before Lent.”
And while there are plenty of bakeries crafting rings and rings of king cake, Breanne wants to do things a little differently at Josephine Estelle. Instead of serving up wedges of cake, Breanne is whipping up king cake scones.
“King cakes are usually stick-to-your-ribs sweet, with a heavy coating of icing and extra sugar on top,” Breanne says. “For someone who doesn’t have much of a sweet tooth, just a sliver of king cake can be too overwhelming. I wanted to create a pastry that was festive and reminiscent enough of the traditional sweet treat—but wouldn’t leave you feeling sluggish.”
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Just like king cake, the multi-layered scone is dusted with stripes of green, purple, and yellow sprinkles—so there’s still plenty of tangible holiday spirit. For those who aren’t able to stop into Josephine Estelle for one (or two, or three) scones, Breanne has luckily provided a recipe that can be made at home. The light and airy dough is rolled out and cut into triangles, a treat that can be eaten morning, noon, and night.
And while there’s no baby included in this recipe, there’s no reason you can’t stick one into the scone dough. Just make sure you inform everyone to look out for the baby—you’re certainly going to want to avoid any dental emergencies.
King Cake Scone Recipe
King Cake Scones
- Cinnamon sugar: ¾ cup light brown sugar
- ¼ cup ground cinnamon
- Scone dough: 2 lb AP flour, plus more for dusting
- 1 tablespoon plus two teaspoons baking powder
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 2 tsp salt
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 pound cold butter, cut into cubes
- 8 oz cream cheese, cut into cubes
- 3-3 ½ cups heavy cream, plus more for brushing
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 1 tablespoon butter extract
- Icing: 3 cups powdered sugar, sifted
- 2 tablespoons corn syrup
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 3-4 tablespoons milk
- Purple, green, and gold colored sanding sugar for decorating
- Combine light brown sugar and cinnamon in a bowl and set aside. In a large bowl whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and sugar. Add about two cups of the dry mix to a food processor and pulse with the butter until mixture resembles pebbly sand. Add back to the bowl and repeat this same process with the cream cheese. Combine everything together in the bowl. Mix the vanilla and butter extracts with the heavy cream. Gradually pour in heavy cream until the dough starts to come together in a shaggy consistency.
- Turn dough out onto a floured surface and press together. Roll dough out into a long rectangle. Sprinkle with a generous layer of cinnamon sugar. Fold the long ends in to meet at the middle and then fold a second time like you’re closing a book. Roll dough out again to a long rectangle. Again, sprinkle dough with cinnamon sugar. This time do a tri-fold by eyeballing 3 equal sections of the dough the long way. Fold one end in to meet the edge of the third section and then fold the dough over itself like a book. Roll dough out to a rectangle about 12”x16”. Press the edges in so that the sides are as flat as possible so you don’t lose too much dough when you trim it. Transfer dough to a baking sheet and set in the refrigerator for about 2 hours.
- Remove dough from the refrigerator and trim edges with a knife to get a clean rectangle. Cut the dough into 12 squares, 3 rows of 4. Cut each square diagonally to make 24 triangular scones. Freeze dough for at least one hour before baking. Scones will last up to 2 weeks in the freezer and are best baked off frozen. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lay out 12 scones onto a parchment lined baking sheet, using two baking sheets or baking in batches. Brush each scone with heavy cream and bake for 25-30 minutes, rotating pans halfway through. Scones should be a nice golden color. Allow to cool at room temperature before decorating.
- To make the icing, whisk together the powdered sugar, corn syrup, vanilla, and milk to desired consistency. Dip the top of each scone evenly into icing and let hang over the bowl to allow excess icing to drip. Set back on the baking sheet and sprinkle in 3 separate sections with the purple, green, and gold sanding sugar. Once icing dries they can be served or stored in an airtight container for up to 2 days.
Header image by laartist/E+/Getty Images.