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TIP OF THE DAY: Create A King Cake Variation For Mardi Gras

Will you be celebrating Mardi Gras on March 6th?

If you hadn’t planned to, perhaps this fun food dessert project will appeal to you.

Your challenge: to create your own version of King Cake, the staple Mardi Gras dessert (the history of Mardi Gras).

Or bake this recipe from scratch.

Or, make your favorite bundt with tri-colored boiled icing. Or cupcakes, with colored batter and/or variously iced in green, gold and purple.

It could be any type of cake, cheesecake, a cream pie, cookies, trifle, pastry…. Apply a King Cake theme to one of your favorite desserts.

The King Cake (photo #1) is a Mardi Gras tradition in New Orleans, made only during this time of year. Just about every bakery sells the cake. Fans all over the country purchase the cakes by mail order.

You can make a classic King Cake with this kit from King Arthur Flour.

King cake is typically a Danish yeast ring (some are elaborately braided), brioche or cinnamon bread. It is covered by a poured white icing and sprinkled with purple, green and gold colored sugar.

What makes a King Cake fun is the hidden charm—originally a baby, representing baby Jesus and now any charm you like.

SAFETY NOTE: To avoid broken teeth on a coin, or accidentally swallowing a small charm, choose your charm wisely.

And don’t bake a plastic charm in the cake: It will melt. Inserting a plastic charm from the bottom of the baked cake is the best way to go. (Poke a hole in the underside and insert the charm.)

The person who gets the slice with the charm gets luck and prosperity for the year. In some traditions is given a gold cardboard crown (the Epiphany Cake tradition) and becomes “king” or “queen” for the day.

  • Most are covered in bright sanding sugars or icings in the Mardi Gras colors: green (faith), gold (power) and purple (justice).
  • Some are filled with candied or glazed fruits.
  • A small toy baby, representing the Infant Jesus, is typically inserted into the cake. The person who gets the slice with the baby wins a gold [cardboard] crown.
    If you’d like to understand more about it, here’s the history of King Cake.

    Whatever you make, use the three Mardi Gras colors (green, gold and purple). You can do this, for example, with:

  • Candied fruits
  • Candies (Sixlets, fruit sours, etc.)
  • Colored batter or dough
  • Colored dessert sauces
  • Colored fillings
  • Colored icing or whipped cream
  • Colored sauces or purées
  • Edible flowers
  • Fondant or marzipan
  • Sprinkles/sprinkle mixes, confetti, pearls and other garnishes
  • Colored white chocolate bark, fondue, etc.
    Here are some ideas.

  • Cheesecake (including individual cheesecakes) with tricolor toppings (fruits, glitter, etc.—photo #2)
  • Cookies, from iced sugar cookies to macarons (photo #5)to peanut butter (photo #4) and spritz cookies (photo #3)
  • Cream pies
  • Ice cream
  • Ice cream cake
  • Iced cupcakes, donuts, cinnamon rolls
  • Individual cakelets
  • Layer cake
  • Muffins with tricolor fruits
  • Popcorn with tricolor sprinkles
  • Pudding/mousse (colored vanilla, white chocolate)
    And, it doesn’t have to be sweet. In Spain, Roscón de Reyes (or rosca de reyes—ring of the kings) is traditionally eaten to celebrate Epiphany. You can add the Mardi Gras colors to create King Cake’s brother, King Bread.

    Consider a savory bread filled or topped with yellow, green and purple bell peppers (photo #6).

  • Colored Cocktails In Gold, Green & Purple
  • Easy Gumbo
  • Gumbalaya (a cross of gumbo and jambalaya)

    King Cake
    [1] Classic King Cake: a yeast ring with boiled white icing and tri-color sprinkles (photo courtesy Hudson Chocolates).

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    [2] A deconstructed King Cake, a fun variation and a way to show your creativity. Note that the baby is standing on top of the cake (photo courtesy Restaurant Revolution | NOLA).

    [3] Many cookies are just waiting to be decorated in green, gold and purple. Here’s the recipe for these spritz cookies from Karen’s Kitchen Stories.

    Mardi Gras Peanut Butter Cookies
    [4] You don’t have to be an expert baker to create your King Cake interpretation. These peanut butter cookies were transformed with food color (photo courtesy Jif).

    Mardi Gras Macarons
    [5] Tri-color macarons (photo courtesy Sucre | NOLA).

    Savory King Cake - King Bread
    [6] A savory bread ring with Mardi Gras colors: King Bread (photo courtesy Tres Pupusas).



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