In the Catholic church, Mardi Gras marks the end of ordinary time, as Lent begins tomorrow. The origin of Fat Tuesday comes from baking goods in order to use up all of the fat and sugar in the household in preparation for Lent, because in older days, these foods weren't consumed throughout the Lenten season. Nowadays, Mardi Gras has become synonomous with Carnival, and is celebrated with masks, beads, and parties, in addition to sweets, fats, and alcohol.
One tradition that comes with Mardi Gras is the King Cake. Originally eaten between January 6th (Epiphany, when the kings came to visit Jesus) and Mardi Gras, this cake is deliciously sweet. It's made from different ingredients in each country that celebrates Mardi Gras, and generally no two King Cakes ever taste the same. They're baked with a baby figurine inside (though it was originally a bean, pecan, or coin), and whoever gets the piece with the baby inside is said to have good luck for the next year (and the "privilege" of providing the King Cake for next year's celebration). The cakes are topped with purple, green, and yellow icing - purple to signify suffering, green for hope, and yellow (or gold) for the rewards of leading a Christian life. However, there's many different traditions and fables surrounding King Cakes, because everyone has different beliefs and celebrations. Whatever your beliefs are, these cakes are delicious!
A traditional King Cake can take 10-20 hours to make from start to finish. Because I don't have a stand mixer, or that much time, I decided I would make a "Cheater King Cake"
(original recipe here)
2 rolls of cinnamon rolls
1 cup powdered sugar
8 oz of cream cheese (softened)
2 tsp of flour
2 tsp of vanilla extract
1 tsp of milk
Green, Yellow, and Purple food coloring
1 baby doll (totally optional, I didn't use one)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F
1. Unpackage the cinnamon rolls, setting aside the icing for later. Knead the cinnamon rolls into one big ball of dough, and then flatten. Shape into a rectangle about 5" wide, as however long you can get it - I managed to stretch mine to about 24".
2. Blend powdered sugar, cream cheese, flour, vanilla, and milk until creamy. Spread onto cinnamon roll dough about 4" wide (so 1" will have no spread).
3. Roll the dough up into a tube from the side with spread, you should be able to use the last inch without spread as a seal to keep the tube closed. Form into a circle, joining the two edges - I used tooth picks as an extra precaution to keep mine together.
4. Place dough ring onto a cookie sheet, bake for 25-30 minutes.
5. Divide icing among three bowls, and color each one purple, green, or yellow. Drizzle onto finished cake.
Pretty easy right? I didn't include a baby, simply because I couldn't find one. The cake is delicious though! Make sure you let it cool before you eat it though, or it turns into a gooey mess...