As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. Read the full disclosure here.
Mardi Gras Cake starts with a yellow cake mix layered with a brown sugar pecan layer that’s soaked in sweetened condensed milk then topped off with a light cream cheese frosting.
Mardi Gras is coming soon and that means I’ve been looking for all the recipes to help celebrate. While King Cake is the most popular recipe there are so many different versions and other fun recipes.
What is Mardi Gras?
Mardi Gras, which means “Fat Tuesday” in French, refers to the carnival and celebration that takes place before Lent. It is a festive and colorful event observed in many countries, with the most notable celebrations in regions such as New Orleans in the United States, Rio de Janeiro in Brazil, and Venice in Italy. Mardi Gras typically involves parades, masquerades, music, dancing, and the consumption of rich and fatty foods. The celebration is known for its vibrant and elaborate costumes, masks, and floats.
I have made a lot of Mardi Gras recipes over the years. My very first recipe was for the original King Cake. I’ve also made these colorful King Cake Pancakes with a spiced cream cheese drizzle. I’ve also made King Cake Cupcakes that are filled with a spiced brown sugar mixture and are much easier to make than a King Cake.
What is a King Cake?
A king cake is a traditional pastry associated with the celebration of Mardi Gras and Carnival. The cake is named after the three wise men or “kings” who visited the baby Jesus. Typically a king cake is a sweet, braided dough ring, often decorated with colorful icing or sugar in the traditional Mardi Gras colors of purple, green, and gold. A small plastic baby figure is often hidden in the cake. The person who finds the baby in their slice is considered to have good luck or is responsible for providing the next king cake.
So let’s talk about this Mardi Gras Poke Cake. The great thing about it is that it starts with a boxed cake mix but no one will ever believe that it started with a mix. It’s that good!
- box of yellow cake mix (15.25 oz. box of mix)
- vegetable oil (you can also substitute butter if desired)
- brown sugar (I used light but you can use dark)
- cinnamon (use a good quality, strong cinnamon)
- toasted pecans (make sure you toast them, it makes a difference)
- sweetened condensed milk
- butter (I used salted but you can use unsalted)
- cream cheese (use the full fat version for this recipe)
- powdered sugar
- milk (I used whole milk but you can use reduce fat or plant based milk)
- vanilla extract
To make the cake preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9 x 13 baking pan with cooking spray and set aside.
In a large bowl whisk together the eggs, vegetable oil, and water. Add in the cake mix and whisk for 2 minutes or until smooth. Set aside.
In a small bowl combine the brown sugar, 3 teaspoons cinnamon, and chopped pecans.
Pour half the batter into the prepared pan. Sprinkle the brown sugar mixture evenly over top of the cake batter. Pour the remaining cake batter over top of the brown sugar mixture. Bake for 35-38 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
Using the end of a wooden spoon or a chopstick poke holes all over the cake. Mix together the sweetened condensed milk, remaining cinnamon, and melted butter. Pour over top of the cake and smooth so that the mixture goes into the holes.
In a large bowl combine the butter and cream cheese. Beat with a hand mixer on medium high speed until smooth. Add in the powdered sugar, milk, and vanilla and beat on low until combined. Increase speed to high and beat for 2 minutes or until fluffy. Spread on top of the cake.
If desired sprinkle with a combination of gold, green, and purple sprinkles.
How do you store this cake?
You can store the cake at room temperature for up to 2 days in an air tight container. To last for up to 5 days cover the top with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator.
What can I serve with this cake?
This cake is incredibly rich. It’s great served with an ice cold glass of milk. If you want something hot I recommend a cup of coffee or hot tea. You can also serve it with a Cinnamon Cookie Butter Latte or a Caramel Vanilla Latte.
For the Cake:
- 1 box yellow cake mix 15.25 oz box
- 3 eggs
- 1 c. water
- 1/2 c. vegetable oil
- 1 1/2 c. brown sugar divided
- 4 teaspoons cinnamon divided
- 1/4 c. toasted pecans chopped
- 1 14 oz can sweetened condensed milk
- 4 Tablespoons butter melted
For the frosting:
- 4 oz. cream cheese
- 4 Tablespoons butter
- 1 1/2 c. powdered sugar
- 1 Tablespoon vanilla
- yellow green, and purple sprinkles
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9 x 13 pan with cooking spray and set aside.
- In a large bowl combine the eggs, vegetable oil, and water. Mix well.
- Add in the yellow cake mix and mix until combined.
- In a small bowl combine 1 cup brown sugar, 3 teaspoons cinnamon, and the pecans.
- Pour half the batter into the prepared pan. Sprinkle the brown sugar mixture evenly over top of the cake batter. Pour the remaining cake batter over top of the brown sugar mixture.
- Bake for 32-35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
- Using the end of a wooden spoon or a chopstick poke holes all over the cake.
- In a small bowl combine the remaining brown sugar, remaining cinnamon, sweetened condensed milk, and the melted butter. Mix well.
- Pour the milk mixture over top of the cake spreading it around so that it goes into the holes. Allow the cake to cool completely.
- To make the frosting place the cream cheese and butter in a large bowl. Beat on medium high speed until smooth.
- Add in the powdered sugar, milk, and vanilla and beat on low until combined. Increase speed to high and beat for 2 minutes or until fluffy.
- Spread the frosting over top of the cake. Quickly sprinkle the yellow, green, and purple sprinkles in a pattern over top of the cake.
- Chill until ready to serve.