A Fat Tuesday in California

And this is the 5th Fat Tuesday’s celebration since when Aroma di Cannella made its first appearance on the foodblogosphere. I really like this moment of the year because not only Carnival baking is so much fun for me but also it gives me an occasion to look back at the old times (and make me realizing how fast time runs).
In addition, reading what I was doing on this day in the past 4 four years is always very nice as it is exciting to see how I’ve been living in so many different places:
Fat Tuesday 2014 in Sweden
Fat Tuesday 2015 in Italy
Fat Tuesday 2016 in The Netherlands
Fat Tuesday 2017 traveling from Italy to The Netherlands
And now Fat Tuesday 2018 in California.

As my “older” readers might know well by now, since I was a kid I have this tradition to do some baking on Fat Tuesday, which is the last day of the Carnival period. I found out, over the years, that Carnival is not a big festivity everywhere. While in Italy as well as in Sweden people usually eat traditional pastries in this period before the Easter fasting, in other countries, such as The Netherlands and – I’ve just found out in these days – most of the US,  there is no culinary tradition whatsoever.
As Fat Tuesday was approaching, last week I found myself googling about traditional recipes of typical Carnival American food and I was quite disappointed to discover there is none. Due to French influences, only New Orleans has massive Carnival celebrations that culminate on Mardi Gras. And there is a lot of traditional food that people eat in this period over there.
Therefore, I decided to bring a bit of New Orleans in Los Angeles and prepare the King’s Cake. This cake is a characteristic dessert made by a simple ring-shaped sweetened crescent roll, filled with cream-cheese, (soaked in bourbon) raisins and nuts, and covered by colored royal icing: purple for justice, green for faith, and yellow for power. People usually hide a token, such as a baby figurine that symbolized Jesus Christ, or an almond, in the filling. The person who finds it will have good luck in the coming year. However, he or she is expected to bake the cake the next year and hosts a Mardi Gras party.
So, what a perfect occasion to try this new recipe for Fat Tuesday?
By lucky coincidence, on that evening we had our traditional Oscar-movie night here in the LA family with some regular friends coming over. As we usually do that everybody brings something, I volunteered to prepare the dessert: the King’s cake, indeed. However, due to limited time as I am crazy-busy with work these days, I opted for a super easy, simplified, personalized version with non-traditional colors (red and green, which were what I could find available at home).
Ofc, if you can and have time, do it the right way: prepare the dough yourself and use the proper colors!

IMG_7514

King’s cake

Ingredients

2 cans of refrigerated crescent roll
colored sand sugar (here red and green, but it should be green, purple and yellow)

For the filling:

250 gr of cream cheese (I used Philadelphia)
1 cup of brown sugar
50 gr of pecan nuts
1 tablespoon of vanilla extract
You can also add raising soaked in bourbon as the original recipe says.

For the egg wash:

1 egg
2 tablespoons of milk

A token to hide in the cake (I used a heart-shaped piece of chocolate as St Valentine’s day was coming after Fat Tuesday)

Procedure

Preheat the oven at 180*.
Unroll the dough and separate it in triangles, which you then position in a large baking sheet (previously sprayed with cooking spray). Press the center of the triangle edges using your fingers.
Prepare the filling by simply mixing the cream cheese with brown sugar, chopped pecan nuts and vanilla extract. Spread the filling on the cake by forming a ring and don’t forget to addthe token. Fold the outer edges over the filling and then do the same with the inner edges, by closing the cake.

Brush the cake with egg wash and add the colored sugars.
Bake the cake for 30/35 minutes until the dough is light-brown colored.
Let it cooling down before eating.

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People at the movie-night really liked the cake, which matched very well with vanilla ice-cream and fresh fruit.
And next year, I expect an invitation for Mardi Gras back here once again, as the lucky finder of the token belongs to the family.

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