Friday, February 05, 2016

King Cake!!

When a lot of people hear Mardi Gras, they think New Orleans, Bourbon Street, boobs for beads, and partying.  It is and can be those things if you are in the French Quarter.  It also months of preparation and weeks of celebrations, not just on Fat Tuesday.  Many surrounding areas have smaller, much toned down celebrations.  Here in Houma, the parades are much more family friendly.  Not that anything wild and crazy doesn't happen here, it's just not as widespread as in NOLA.

Another thing that comes to mind when Mardi Gras is mentioned is KING CAKE!!   King cakes come in all sizes and filling flavors from plain, strawberry, cream cheese, Bavarian cream, pecan, chocolate...  the list goes on and on.  Inside the cake is hidden a tiny plastic baby.  The general rule is if you get the piece with the baby, you're supposed to host the next king cake party.  Some places have opted out of putting the baby inside the cake.  It just sits on top and you can stick it in if you'd like.  Some still bake it inside, so you never know where it is.  Even though it's easy to spot, if you aren't familiar with it, eat carefully!!

There are good king cakes and bad king cakes.  Many of the doughnut shops sell king cakes made of doughnut dough.  You can't go wrong with a giant doughnut, but it's not a true king cake.  The grocery stores make and sell them also, but those are hit or miss.  Some are too much like bread. Some of them are overfilled with too much goo for my taste.  It is hard to find a really good king cake!!

If you're feeling the Mardi Gras spirit and can't buy one, you can always make your own King Cake.  I've made some from scratch, which turned out amazing but it was a lot of work.  You can cheat a little and find things in your grocery store to make a decent one.  It's pretty easy and quick.

Here's what you'll need:

2 cans of crescent rolls
butter, cinnamon and brown sugar, or white sugar if you prefer
Filling:  you can make it plain or with any filling you'd like --  pie filling works great.  Preserves would work also if you're feeling fruity.  You can mix in pecans with the cinnamon and sugar.  Strawberry cream cheese.  I used plain cream cheese mixed with powdered sugar and a splash of vanilla.

powdered sugar
vanilla or almond extract
purple, green, and yellow food coloring
sprinkles if you desire
small plastic baby or you can use a bean

- Mix softened butter, sugar and cinnamon 

-  shape a taco ring out of the crescent rolls and sprinkle the cinnamon and sugar.  Add your filling at this point also.  I did half cinnamon and sugar, half cream cheese.  Hide the baby in there, if you'd like to.

Fold over the points and pinch close the spaces as best as you can because the filling will leak out.  Bake according to the crescent roll directions.

Make the icing while it's cooling.  Melt a  few spoons of butter in a sauce pan on the stove.  Add in powdered sugar, vanilla or almond extract if you prefer.  When it's the consistency you want, add the dye - purple, green, and gold of course.

A lot of places put those crunchy sugar sprinkles on them.  I don't like that, but if you want to add them, do it before the icing dries so the sprinkles stick.   There you have it - a homemade King Cake for Mardi Gras!

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