Honey Whole Wheat King Cake with Pecan Cream Cheese Filling
A few simple swaps and additions provide this King Cake with more beneficial nutrients and less empty calories than traditional versions. The addition of whole wheat flour adds vitamins, minerals, and fiber. The filling uses Neufchatel cheese, which contains the protein and flavor of traditional cream cheese, but less saturated fat. The addition of pecans provides heart healthy unsaturated fats. For those who like to stick to tradition, the cake is glazed with a simple glaze colored purple, green, and gold, but skips the additional mounds of colored sugar on top. To reduce the calories significantly in this king cake (by about 100 kcals per serving), skip the filling and instead just sprinkle cinnamon onto the dough before rolling it up into a log. This is not recommended though, because the filling is delicious, and all delicious things should be enjoyed in moderation.
- ½ cup low fat milk, warmed slightly
- 1 envelope(3/4 oz) instant yeast
- 3 Tbsp honey
- 2 large eggs
- 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
- 1 cup whole wheat flour
- ½ tsp salt
- 6 Tbsp salted butter, softened
- 8 oz Neufchatel cheese
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1 large egg
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 1 ½ tsp ground cinnamon
- ½ cups pecan halves, toasted & chopped
- 2 ½ cups powdered sugar
- 1/3 cup low fat milk
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- Purple (or red and blue), green, and yellow food dye.
- Combine the warmed milk and yeast in the bowl of a stand mixer and let sit for five minutes. Add the honey and eggs, and stir until combined. Add the flours and salt. Mix the dough until combined, and then knead with a dough hook for about two minutes at a low speed, or until it looks smooth. Increase the speed to medium and add the butter, one tablespoon at a time. Once the butter is added, continue kneading the dough for about five minutes- the dough will be soft and stick to the sides of the bowl. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let it rise at room temperature for about 2 hours, or until at least doubled in size.
- Prepare the filling by beating together the Neufchatel, sugar, egg, vanilla, and cinnamon until smooth. Refrigerate the mixture while the dough rises (or for at least an hour).
- Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, and spray with non-stick cooking spray. Turn the dough out onto the parchment and shape it into a rectangle. Spread the filling on top of the dough in an even layer, and sprinkle the toasted and chopped pecans on top. Roll up the dough into a log, and situate it so that the seam is facing down. Shape the log into a circle and pinch the ends together. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let it rise once more for 30 minutes.
- Bake at 350° for 20-30 minutes or until golden brown.
- Once the cake is cooled, create the glaze by whisking together the powdered sugar, milk, and vanilla until smooth. Separate the glaze into three bowls, and use the food dye to color one bowl purple (two drops of blue, one drop of red), one green, and one yellow. Drizzle the glaze onto the king cake, alternating the three colors. The glaze should harden within an hour, and then the cake will be ready to enjoy!
Recipe makes 12 servings, 1 serving is 300 kcals, 14g fat, 7g saturated fat, 4.8g monounsaturated fat, 2g polyunsaturated fat, 38g carbohydrate, 2g fiber, 7g protein.