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Celebrate Mardi Gras with cake

February 17, 2012

Who doesn’t love an excuse for one big party? Well your chance is coming up. Celebrated in Italy, Germany, Denmark, England, Brazil, Canada, the United States and many other Catholic Eastern European countries is Mardi Gras. Celebrated this year on February 21, it is an important holiday for many Christians.

Marking the last day of the season that started January 6 on Epiphany, it signifies one last chance to splurge on favorites before Lenten season begins with Ash Wednesday the following day.

In French the words Mardi Gras are translated to Fat Tuesday, one of its monikers. Other names include Shrove Tuesday, Carnival, PancakeDay, and Packzi Day. Here in the United States it is simply referred to as Mardi Gras, with the largest celebrations found in New Orleans, Louisiana.

Marking the 175-year celebration for them, it’s a big deal and draws in a huge crowd. With an estimated number of attendees between 700,000 and 800,000 in 2005 alone according to Nola.com, there’s sure to be lots to do.

Hosting your own celebration gives you an excuse for a weekday party and for some good treats. New Orleans is known for their Creole and Cajun cooking styles, both spicy and flavorful, but with significant differences that are often confused. In an article on Mardi Gras, Paul Prudhomme (father
of the blackening technique, restaurateur, author and chef) offers a differentiation between the two
describing “Cajun food as country cooking, whereas Creole food is more elegant and sophisticated, city cooking so to speak.”

Common dishes to be seen are Jambalaya, Gumbo, and those featuring Crawfish. However, any Fat Tuesday celebrant would tell that the party is not complete without the famous King Cake, also known as the 12th night cake. The ring shaped traditional King Cake is actually more of a sweet bread, and is frosted with purple, green, and gold icing, signifying justice, faith, and power, colors that date back to 1872.

Inside the cake the host will have put a figurine of a baby, for Jesus, or a token such as a dried red bean. Whoever bites into the piece holding the token is said to have luck in the coming year, which is a great way to end your celebration.

King Cakes can be bought or made. This recipe is a quick and easy version of King Cake and works well for filled coffee cakes making use of items you can easily find at the grocery store. Enjoy!

Ingredients:

Filling:

  • 4 ounces (half of a large block) cream cheese
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup raisins, soaked in hot water for 15 minutes, drained, and patted dry on paper towels
  • 1/2 cup pecan halves

Cake:

  • 2 rolls (total of 12 individual crescent rolls) refrigerated crescent rolls in the can

Icing:

  • Purple, Green, and Yellow (Gold) canned frosting.

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350° F and grease a pizza pan.

2. Mix together the filling ingredients in a food processor until the pecan halves are chopped to about ¼ inch pieces. Set this aside.

3. Unroll the crescent roll dough and place the triangles, point towards the center, side by side on the pizza pan to form a large ring. Overlap the long sides a little bit pressing only the center of the overlapping seams together.

4. Spread the filling over the pressed seams of the triangles. Place the token somewhere in the filling.

5. Carefully fold the outer edge of the dough ring over the filling then pull the points of the triangles back over the folded edge tucking it under the whole ring and gently pressing the seams together.

6. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown.

7. After the cake has cooled to room temperature frost alternating among colors.

Brittney Pfenning­-Wendt is a columnist for the Student Voice.

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