So, if you have ever been to Nawlins, you must have tasted their famous king cake. First, it is a Mardi Gras staple, but can be eaten for breakfast, coffee break, and dessert. The king cake is sold all over, but mostly grocery stores, bakeries, and delis, starting January 6 until Ash Wednesday.
Most people do not know the tradition of king cakes began back in the Middle Ages. The twelfth night after the birth of Christ marks the end of Christmas and the celebration of Epiphany. So, to celebrate the Twelfth Night, some cultures held pageants and gave special presents to children. Along with all the gifts, came the celebratory cake, or king cake.
Today, the king cake is a confection made out of braided Danish pastry, with lots of cinnamon added. Perhaps best of all, it is iced in Mardi Gras colors, of purple (justice), green (faith), and gold (power). But the best and most unusual part, is a hidden tiny plastic baby in each cake. Tradition holds that the person who finds the baby must buy the next king cake or better yet, host the next party. Contemporary king cakes are often filled with things like cream cheese, praline, fruit filling (strawberry or apple), and other fillings. I could suggest chocolate cream, coconut, whipped cream, vanilla custard, and raisins.
But in reality, the king cake is celebrated throughout the south. This would include the Gulf Coast, Galveston, Mobile, and the greater Louisiana area. It is also popular in Lebanon, Belgium, France, Quebec, Switzerland, Portugal, Greece, Cyprus, and Bulgaria. And of course, we can thank the French and Belgians for bringing the tradition to the south. It would be quite easy to adapt these cakes to Valentine's Day (red and pink), St. Patrick's Day (green and white), and Christmas (red and green).
It sounds like a great tradition and lots of fun. Let me see if I can find a king cake. A few of the more well known places are: Haydel's Bakery, Gambino's Bakery, Manny Randazzo's, Maurice's, Sucre, and Croissant D'or Patisserie. It will taste even better after the Niners win their sixth Super Bowl title.
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