Mardi Gras

MARDI GRAS is Fat Tuesday! It’s the last night of eating rich and fatty foods before the ritual fasting of the Lenten season which begins the next day on Ash Wednesday. Fat Tuesday is sometimes referred to as Shrove Tuesday — from the word “shrive” meaning “confess.”

KING CAKE is a southern Mardi Gras tradition served throughout the Carnival season which lasts from Epiphany Eve through Fat Tuesday. Inside the cake you’ll find a trinket — traditionally a dried bean or a small plastic baby representing the baby Jesus. The person who gets the piece of cake with the trinket has various privileges and obligations. It has become customary in southern culture that whoever finds the trinket is declared the king or queen of the day and must provide the next KING CAKE or host the next Mardi Gras party.

The most traditional KING CAKE is a ring of twisted cinnamon roll-style bread topped with icing and purple (justice), green (faith) and gold (power) colored sugars — the official Mardi Gras colors.  

Mardi Gras King Cake
KING CAKE is a ring of cinnamon cake topped with sweet icing and purple, green and gold colored sugars.
1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 (18.25-ounce) package yellow cake mix
1 cup powdered sugar
2 tablespoons milk
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
Purple sugar sprinkles
Green sugar sprinkles
Yellow sugar sprinkles
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a Bundt cake pan with canola oil spray, then dust with flour. Shake out the excess flour.  For the filling, place the brown sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl and stir until well combined. Set bowl aside.  Prepare cake mix according to package directions. Pour one-third of the batter into the prepared pan. Scatter half of the brown-sugar cinnamon filling evenly over the batter. Pour another third of the batter evenly over the filling. Scatter remaining of brown sugar-cinnamon mixture over the batter. Pour the remaining batter evenly over the top, smoothing it out with a rubber spatula. Place the pan in the oven. Bake for 40 minutes or until cake is golden brown. Remove the pan from the oven and cool on a wire rack for 15 minutes. Invert onto wire rack and allow to cool completely.  Prepare the glaze by mixing powdered sugar, milk and vanilla extract in a small bowl; stir until smooth. Place cooled cake on a serving platter and spoon the glaze over the top so that it drizzles down the sides and into the center of the cake. Before the glaze hardens, sprinkle the cake with purple, green and yellow sugars. Allow to set for 30 minutes before serving. Serves 12.

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A Mardi Gras MASK is an essential item of Carnival. Hiding your face in a MASK allows you to play a totally different role and gives you the liberty to assume another personality. It’s magical, anonymous and mysterious!

ARTICHOKE SPREAD is a delicious Fat Tuesday appetizer to serve while you’re toasting Mardi Gras! Traditionally colored tortilla chips – purple (justice), green (faith) and gold (power) are just added fun!

Artichoke Spread
FUN when served with Mardi Gras tortilla chips! (I found these at the World Market in Bluffton, SC –  www.worldmarket.com/)
1 (16-ounce) can artichoke hearts
1 cup mayonnaise
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon garlic powder
Smoked paprika
Tortilla chips
Drain artichoke hearts. Place in a medium bowl and mash with a fork.  Add mayonnaise, Parmesan cheese and garlic powder; mix well. Spread in a shallow baking dish; sprinkle with smoked paprika. Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 30 minutes or until warm and bubbly. Serve with tortilla chips. Serves 4 to 6.

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