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The words Mardi Gras are French for “Fat Tuesday.” Carnival celebrations beginning on or after the Feast of the Epiphany have become very popular, especially in the South.
Fat Tuesday is sometimes called Shrove Tuesday, with “shrove” meaning “confess,” and had its beginning with French settlers who traveled up the Mississippi River. The settlers were Roman Catholic or Anglican and they brought the “carnival” celebrations from Europe. Fat Tuesday is the last night to eat richer, fatty foods before the ritual fasting that takes place during Lent, which begins tomorrow, Ash Wednesday.
Popular practices include wearing masks and costumes in parades in several large cities along the Mississippi including New Orleans.
Similar festivities appeared in Europe, especially in the United Kingdom, Ireland, Belgium, Italy, Sweden, Germany and Brazil. New Orleans seemed to be the most popular place and it is embraced by residents and tourists beyond those who are Catholic or of French heritage.
A traditional Fat Tuesday treat is King Cake, in which a small, plastic baby is mixed in the batter. A variation of that is Paula Deen’s King Cake Cupcakes. The person who finds the small baby in their cake is supposed to have a year of luck and host the Mardi Gras party the following year.
The other two recipes are popular New Orleans treats any time of the year.
Nora Sweat, author of Mama and Me is a native of Hardin County and a retired home economics/family and consumer science teacher. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or by mail at 408 W. Dixie Ave., Elizabethtown, KY 42701.
King’s Cake Cupcakes
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup raisins
1/4 cup chopped pecans
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
3 (8-ounce) cans refrigerated crescent rolls
1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar
1 tablespoon milk
Garnish: gold, green, and purple sanding sugar
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 12-cup muffin pan with foil or paper liners.
In a small bowl, combine brown sugar and next 3 ingredients.
On a lightly floured surface, unroll each can of dough, and separate each into 4 rectangles. Press perforations to seal. Sprinkle about 2 tablespoons brown sugar mixture down center of each rectangle, leaving a ½-inch border on ends. Working with 1 rectangle at a time, roll up dough, beginning with long side. With seam on top, fold one-third of dough on the left side in to the center. Then fold the right one-third of dough over to the center. Place dough, coiled side up, in prepared muffin cups. Repeat procedure with remaining rectangles. Bake for 18 to 22 minutes or until golden brown.
In a small bowl, whisk confectioners’ sugar and milk until smooth. Drizzle over warm cakes while in pan. Sprinkle with sugars.
Festive King’s Cake
1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons active dry yeast
2 teaspoons salt
4 to 4-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup 2 percent milk
3/4 cup butter, cubed
5 egg yolks
1 cup sugar
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1-1/3 cups confectioners’ sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 to 3 tablespoons 2 percent milk
Purple, yellow and green colored sugars
In a large bowl, mix the sugar, yeast, salt and 2 cups flour. In a small saucepan, heat milk and butter to 120-130 degrees. Add to dry ingredients; beat on medium speed for 2 minutes. Add egg yolks; beat 2 minutes longer. Stir in enough remaining flour to form a soft dough.
Turn onto a floured surface; knead until smooth and elastic, about 6-8 minutes. Place in a greased bowl, turning once to grease the top. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1-1/2 hours.
For filling, mix sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl. Punch down dough. Turn onto a lightly floured surface; roll into a 24-in. x 6-in. rectangle. Sprinkle cinnamon-sugar lengthwise down one half of the dough. Fold dough lengthwise over filling; pinch seam to seal.
Transfer to a greased baking sheet, seam side down. Shape into a ring, pinching ends together to seal. Cover with a kitchen towel; let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1 hour.
Bake at 350 degrees for 30-35 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from pan to a wire rack to cool completely. For topping, mix the confectioners’ sugar, vanilla and enough milk to reach desired consistency. Spread over cake; sprinkle with colored sugars.
French Quarter Beignets
1 package (1/4 ounce) active dry yeast
1/4 cup warm water
1 cup evaporated milk
1/2 cup canola oil
1/4 cup sugar
4-1/2 cups self-rising flour
oil for deep-fat frying
In a large bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water. Add the milk, oil, sugar and egg and 2 cups flour. Beat until smooth. Stir in enough remaining flour to form a soft dough (dough will be sticky). Do not knead. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
Punch dough down. Turn onto a floured surface; roll into a 16-in. x 12-in. rectangle. Cut into 2-in. squares.
In an electric skillet or deep-fat fryer, heat oil to 375 degrees. Fry squares, a few at a time, until golden brown on both sides. Drain on paper towels. Roll warm beignets in confectioners’ sugar.Yield: 4 dozen.
Nora’s Note: As a substitute for each cup of self-rising flour, place 1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder and 1/2 teaspoon salt in a measuring cup. Add all-purpose flour to measure 1 cup.
5 medium firm bananas
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup butter, melted
1/4 cup rum
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/3 cup chopped walnuts
1/3 cup flaked coconut
Vanilla ice cream or sliced pound cake
Cut bananas in half lengthwise, then widthwise; layer in the bottom of a 1-1/2-qt. slow cooker. Combine the brown sugar, butter, rum, vanilla and cinnamon; pour over bananas. Cover and cook on low for 1½hours or until heated through.
Sprinkle with walnuts and coconut; cook 30 minutes longer
Source: Taste of Home, 2014