Spiced Nutella King Cake

A Mardi Gras Tradition with a Chocolatey Twist

You don’t have to be from NOLA to get in on the Mardi Gras action. Make this spiced Nutella stuffed version of a King Cake for your own Mardi Gras or Fat Tuesday celebration!

I was actually born in New Orleans. My parents lived there for 10 years early in their marriage, and basically spent their 20’s learning how to party Mardi Gras style every carnival season. After my family moved, my mom kept the King Cake tradition alive within our household, making one almost every year for Fat Tuesday.

There’s a deeply rich history behind the King Cake, but just I’ll stick to my personal history for the purposes of this post.

Firstly, a king cake is more like a cinnamon roll than what you might think of as a traditional cake. It’s a sweet, brioche style dough, wrapped around a cinnamon and sugar filling. A small toy baby is hidden inside the cake before serving. My mom always said that in NOLA, whoever got the baby in their piece had to throw the next king cake party and was “King for a Day.” In our house, it just meant we were the luckiest family member that year.

Growing up, sprinkling the colored sugars on the king cake was pretty dang exciting. It’s funny how something so simple can fill a kid with so much joy. Me too actually. I let my daughter do the sprinkles on the cake pictured here….and I admit to feeling a little jealous!

I’ve been making king cakes for my family for several years now, and the past few years, we’ve invited family friends to spend Fat Tuesday with us to be part of the tradition. The more the merrier I say! And in NOLA?: Laissez Les Bon Temps Rouler! (Let the good times roll!)

The recipe I’m sharing with you was inspired by Saveur’s King Cake Recipe. I started making some adjustments to that recipe as my kids shared that they didn’t LOVE the cream cheese and cinnamon filling. After brainstorming a bit about what flavors and fillings they would like, they settled on chocolate. I didn’t want to give up the cinnamon/spice notes and I wasn’t sure how to make that happen. I spend some time doing a little recipe researching and then a little recipe testing. The results are this recipe below for Spiced Nutella King Cake. It received rave reviews from the whole household. After all, who doesn’t love bread and chocolate?

I encourage you to use high quality spices, extracts and rum, as that will give you the best flavors. I prefer Penzey’s cinnamon blend, VAIN vanilla in spiced rum (for that extra depth of spice and rum flavor), and Barcardi Gold rum. You could absolutely use your favorite spiced rum in the glaze as well. I am not paid to endorse any products, those are just products I really like to use.

Let me take you through it.

Gather and measure your dough ingredients. You want your milk, eggs and butter to be at room temperature when you use them so their temperature doesn’t inhibit the yeast action.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook (or if you’re using an Ankarsrum like me- the roller attachment); combine the yeast, 1/2 tsp granulated sugar, and 1/4 cup of water heated to 115° F. You need the water to be this warm in order for the yeast to bloom and make your bread lighter. Too hot, and it will kill the yeast. Yeast is particular folks.

Allow that mixture to rest for about 10 minutes. When the yeast has bubbles and looks foamy, it’s ready.

While the mixer is running on low speed, add the remaining granulated sugar, brown sugar, room temperature milk, room temperature egg and egg yolk, and vanilla extract. Beat on low speed until the ingredients are thoroughly combined. This should take about a minute.

Turn the mixer off before adding the flour and vanilla salt. Mix in the flour and salt on medium speed until the dough comes together. Then turn the mixer to medium/high to knead for 4 minutes. The dough should stay together and not stick to the sides of the mixer very much at this point.

Continue mixing on medium high as you add the butter in tablespoon size portions. This part gets a little weird. You will think that the butter is not going to combine with the dough. Be patient. It will eventually work into the dough. It will take approximately 6-8 minutes of mixing. When the dough becomes smooth and pulls away from the side of the mixing bowl, turn the mixer off.

The chocolate chips are optional…but worth it. Add them to the dough and fold them in by hand until they are well distributed throughout. Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap and let sit in a warm, draft free place, for 1.5-2 hours.

Before the dough is finished rising, mix together your filling ingredients in a bowl with a whisk.

Flour your work surface liberally. Punch down the dough. Using a floured rolling pin, roll the dough into a large circle about 1/4 inch thick. My (slightly oblong) circle had a diameter of about 13 inches.

Use a circle cutter to cut at least a 2 inch hole in the center. Spread the filling gently and evenly around the circle. Big blobs of filling in places may cause blow-outs. Leave at least 2 inches between the filling and the center hole. Fold the outside edges over the filling and continue rolling from the outside inward until the filling is covered. Your hole will widen as you roll. Be sure the dough seam is facing down to avoid any filling leakage! I have videos of the rolling, glazing, and sprinkling on my IG post.

Transfer your dough to a parchment or silicone mat lined baking sheet. Cover with plastic wrap and let rest in that warm, draft free, location for another hour. I like to use a glass to prevent the plastic wrap from touching the dough. Go ahead and preheat that oven to 350° F at this point too.

Remove the plastic from the cake and bake at 350°F until it is golden brown. 35-40 minutes. Allow the cake to cool completely.

When the cake is completely cool, find a place for the baby. DO NOT COOK THE BABY WITH THE CAKE. Melted plastic is never a good taste! The dough is plenty soft to push the baby into the underside of the cake. Get that child all tucked in and cozy, so no one can cheat and find him before the cake is sliced!

Whisk up your glaze ingredients and get your sprinkles ready!

Mostly, I just pour the glaze. You can use a spatula to help you get it around if you like. You will need to do your sprinkles pretty quickly after the glaze is poured if you want them to stick. My family has always used sanding sugars for our king cakes, but you could use any sprinkles you like. The traditional colors of Mardi Gras are gold, green, and purple, but who’s to say you can’t switch that up? You party like you wanna party.

Please share pictures of your king cakes! Tag me: @meltedkc or use #meltedkc in your post. I’d also love to see pictures in the comments!

Spiced Nutella King Cake

Recipe by meltedkcCourse: DessertDifficulty: Moderate
Servings

12

servings
Prep time

2

hours 

40

minutes
Cooking time

35

minutes

Ingredients

  • Dough
  • 1 pkg (1/4 oz) active dry yeast

  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar

  • 1/2 cup whole milk, room temperature

  • 2 Tbsp dark brown sugar

  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

  • 1 large egg, room temperature

  • 1 large egg yolk, room temperature

  • 2 3/4 cups unbleached all purpose flour

  • 3/4 tsp vanilla salt (or sea salt)

  • 8 Tbsp unsalted butter

  • Optional: 1/2 cup mini chocolate chips

  • Filling
  • 1 cup Nutella (or other chocolate hazelnut spread)

  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted

  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon

  • 1 Tbsp unbleached all purpose flour

  • 1/2 tsp vanilla

  • optional: 1/2 tsp instant espresso powder/granules

  • Glaze
  • 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar (sifted if clumpy)

  • 1 tsp vanilla

  • 1 tsp gold rum or spiced rum

  • 3-4 Tbsp milk

  • green, purple, and gold sanding sugars

  • Toy Baby
  • Plastic, or metal baby to place into the cake after it has cooked and cooled.

Directions

  • Dough
  • In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook, combine the yeast, 1/2 tsp granulated sugar, and 1/4 cup of water heated to 115° F. Allow that mixture to rest for about 10 minutes. When the yeast has bubbles and looks foamy, it’s ready.
  • Turn the mixer to low speed. While the mixer is running on low speed, add the remaining granulated sugar, brown sugar, milk, egg and egg yolk, and vanilla extract. Beat on low speed until the ingredients are thoroughly combined. This should take about a minute.
  • Turn the mixer off before adding the flour and salt. Mix in the flour and salt on medium speed until the dough comes together. Then turn the mixer to medium/high to knead for 4 minutes. The dough should stay together and not stick to the sides of the mixer very much at this point.
  • Continue mixing on medium high as you add the butter in tablespoon size portions. You will think that the butter is not going to combine with the dough. Be patient. It will eventually work into the dough. It will take approximately 6-8 minutes of kneading with the mixer. When the dough becomes smooth and pulls away from the side of the mixing bowl, turn the mixer off.
  • Optional: Add mini chocolate chips to the dough and fold them in by hand until they are well distributed throughout.
  • Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap and let sit in a warm, draft free place, for 1.5-2 hours.
  • Before the dough is finished rising, mix together your filling ingredients in a bowl with a whisk.
  • Punch down the dough. Flour your work surface liberally. Using a floured rolling pin, roll the dough into a large circle about 1/4 inch thick. a 13 inch diameter should be about right.
  • Use a circle cutter to cut at least a 2 inch hole in the center. Spread the filling gently and evenly around the circle. Leave at least 2 inches between the filling and the center hole. Fold the outside edges over the filling and continue rolling from the outside inward until the filling is covered. Your hole will widen as you roll. Be sure the dough seam is facing down to avoid any filling leakage.
  • Transfer the dough to a parchment or silicone mat lined baking sheet. Cover with plastic wrap and let rest in a warm, draft free, location for an hour. Preheat the oven to 350° F.
  • Remove the plastic from the cake and bake at 350°F until it is golden brown. 35-40 minutes. Allow the cake to cool completely.
  • When the cake is completely cool, find a place for the baby. DO NOT COOK THE BABY WITH THE CAKE. Lift the cake and push the baby into the underside of the cake so it can no longer be seen and the cake can lie flat.
  • Glaze
  • Whisk together the glaze ingredients. Start with 3 Tbsp of milk and add more if needed to get the desired consistency. You want it pourable, but also very thick.
  • Pour the glaze onto the cake and immediately decorate with sanding sugars or other sprinkles.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*