Mardi Gras is a big deal around here. The kids get a week off from school. There are parades for weeks (Yes, I said weeks). It's a ginormous party! I love the decorations (purple, green and gold), the music and the floats. But, my favorite part of Carnival season is King Cake.
The King Cake is made from braided dough, traditionally with cinnamon inside. But there are tons of different flavors. It's baked up then slathered with icing and topped with purple, green and gold sugar. It originated at parties celebrating Twelfth Night, or when the three wise men, or Kings, visited the baby Jesus. That's why we put a baby inside the cake. Whoever gets the piece with the baby has to buy the next cake. Twelfth Night is the start of the Mardi Gras season and it runs through Mardi Gras day, which is 47 days before Easter Sunday (the day before Ash Wednesday).
If you can't get your hands on a King Cake, you can easily make your own using a can of cinnamon rolls. It's not the same as a true New Orleans bakery king cake, but it's pretty tasty! Here's how you do it:
First, preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Take the cinnamon rolls out of the can and unroll three of them on a cookie sheet (I used my Pampered Chef baking stone).
Pinch the ends together, then braid them, pinching the other end together, too.
Repeat with another three cinnamon rolls. Then, connect them in an oval.
There will be two rolls left over (8 in the can). You can unroll those last two, twist them together and form into a circle to make a mini King Cake.
Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes. They'll be puffed up and golden.
Let them cool. Then, frost with the icing included with the can. Finally, sprinkle with purple, green and gold sugars. If you can't find these colored sugars, you can make them. Just put regular white granulated sugar into three small zip bags. Add a few drops of food coloring and squeeze the bag until you get the color you're looking for. Red and blue makes purple. Yellow and blue make green. (Hey, maybe someone didn't know) Here's what the finished product looks like:
If you don't have a plastic baby to put inside, that's OK. You can use any small toy or even a dried bean. Just stick it inside the cake from underneath. Don't forget to let your guests know it's there, you don't want anyone choking! It's happened.
Enjoy this easy cinnamon roll King Cake and Happy Mardi Gras!