Category: mardi gras / carnival

Eat now. Repent later.

So Mardi Gras 2012 is upon us. Laissez les bon temps roulez!

Despite not being religious, French/Creole/Spanish (well I am a smidgen French, but not really enough to claim it) or from New Orleans, I love Mardi Gras. I love the colors, the parades, the partying, the food. Fat Tuesday (or Shrove Tuesday as my grandma & the old schoolers called it) was always one of the funnest part of being in Catholic school; pancakes & a party all day! Other than that, a lot of time in Catholic school is spent… well, being all Catholic.

However I can get down with the “Eat now, repent later” bit, for sure. As a matter of fact, I prefer “Eat now, repent never” even better. As a matter of fact… I don’t quite believe in repenting at all, unless you commit a real sin. Like throwing away good food. Or murder. You know.

The terms “Mardi Gras” (play /ˈmɑrdiɡrɑː/), “Mardi Gras season“, and “Carnival season“,[1][2][3][4][5] in English, refer to events of the Carnival celebrations, beginning on or after Epiphany and culminating on the day before Ash Wednesday. Mardi gras is French for Fat Tuesday, referring to the practice of the last night of eating richer, fatty foods before the ritual fasting of the Lenten season, which begins on Ash Wednesday; in English the day is sometimes referred to as Shrove Tuesday, from the word shrive, meaning “confess.”[6] Related popular practices are associated with celebrations before the fasting and religious obligations associated with the penitential season of Lent. Popular practices include wearing masks and costumes, overturning social conventions, dancing, sports competitions, parades, etc. Similar expressions to Mardi Gras appear in other European languages sharing the Christian tradition. In English, the day is called Shrove Tuesday, associated with the religious requirement for confession before Lent begins.

In many areas, the term “Mardi Gras” has come to mean the whole period of activity related to the celebratory events, beyond just the single day. In some US cities, it is now called “Mardi Gras Day” or “Fat Tuesday”.[1][2][3][4][5] The festival season varies from city to city, as some traditions consider Mardi Gras the entire period between Epiphany or Twelfth Night and Ash Wednesday.[7] Others treat the final three-day period before Ash Wednesday as the Mardi Gras.[8] In Mobile, Alabama, Mardi Gras-associated social events begin in November, followed by mystic society balls on Thanksgiving,[7][9] then New Year’s Eve, followed by parades and balls in January and February, celebrating up to midnight before Ash Wednesday. In earlier times parades were held on New Year’s Day.[7] Other cities famous for Mardi Gras celebrations include Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Barranquilla, Colombia, Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago, Quebec City, Canada; Mazatlán, Sinaloa in Mexico; and New Orleans, Louisiana, United States.

Carnival is an important celebration in Anglican and Catholic European nations.[6] In the United Kingdom and Ireland, the week before Ash Wednesday is called “shrovetide“, ending on Shrove Tuesday. It has its popular celebratory aspects as well. Pancakes are a traditional food. Pancakes and related fried breads or pastries made with sugar, fat and eggs are also traditionally consumed at this time in many parts of Latin America and the Caribbean.

So basically, you can have King’s Cakes (or cupcakes in my case), Bananas Foster (or the cupcake equivalent) or beignets. Or you can just make some pancakes, if you’re the simple type. But this year I made up some sweet rolls. Sweet, yeasty rolls with a brightly colored confectioner’s sugar glaze.

I’m going to say these are super quick & easy to make, and I hope you believe me. ‘Cause they really are. I made the dough the night before (which took about 5 minutes), let it chill overnight and then made them the next day. In what seemed like no time at all I was shoving them in my fat face.

MARDI GRAS SWEET ROLLS (adapted from a recipe by Oxmoor House)

Ingredients:

Rolls:
  • 1 package active dry yeast
  • ¼ cup warm water (105° to 115°)
  • 3 ⅔ cups all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup sugar
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • ⅓ cup melted unsalted butter
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
Icing:
  • 1 ¼ cups sifted confectioner’s sugar
  • 3-6 tablespoons milk
  • small dab each yellow, green & purple Wilton icing gel food coloring

Directions:

  1. Dissolve yeast in warm water in a small bowl; let stand 5 minutes. Combine flour, ½ cup sugar, and salt in the mixing bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook, stirring well. Combine sour cream, butter, and eggs, stirring well. Add dissolved yeast mixture and sour cream mixture to dry ingredients. Beat at medium speed about 2 minutes or until smooth. Cover tightly, and chill 8 hours.
  2. Preheat oven to 350°. Divide dough in half; shape half of dough into 12 (2-inch) balls, smoothing out tops. Place 2 inches apart on a baking sheet* coated with cooking spray. Repeat procedure with remaining dough. Cover and let rise 30 minutes or until doubled in bulk.
  3. Bake rolls at 350° for 20 minutes or until very lightly browned. Let cool slightly, but not completely, before frosting.
  4. Combine powdered sugar,and milk in a bowl; beat at medium speed of a mixer until smooth. Divide into three separate bowls, stir the food coloring into each bowl, creating three colors. Spread 2 teaspoons frosting on each roll while still warm. Best served warm.

*I used a pie plate, because it was a dark aubergine/purple color and looked pretty for the presentation. Depending on the amount of rolls you have, you can use a cookie sheet, glass baking dish or round cake pan (or two) as well.

You may notice in the directions I say to use a stand mixer. This is because I found a dough hook to be 100% necessary with this dough. I also had to sprinkle a little extra flour in to smooth it out, otherwise it was pretty sticky & didn’t get “smooth” enough. If you have a hand mixer that’s powerful & has a dough hook attachment, then that’s your decision. I personally did not try my new hand mixer out on these.

The frosting, the way I made it, is a messy, crazy, delicious Crayola color-fest. I thought it appropriate since Mardi Gras is all about the fun, the gaudyness & lots of bright color. You can tone it down if you prefer, or just use the icing without color and sprinkle colored sugar in green, purple and yellow on top of it. It’s up to you, although it also depends on the type of food coloring you use. Americolor & Wilton are very bright, but the supermarket brands sometimes require more in order to give you that oomph. So why do we use these particular colors for mardi gras?

6: What is the significance of the Mardi Gras colors, and where did they come from?

A: Rex, the King of Carnival, selected the Mardi Gras colors and assigned meaning to them in 1892. Purple stands for justice, green for faith, and gold for power.

-Source

I halved this recipe and got around 9 rolls (some larger than others because I have a terrible time eyeballing dough size!). If you like, you can add a little lemon zest to the dough, but I liked it just the way it was. Also, you can totally omit the glaze and either have them plain or just brush them with some melted butter as soon as they come out of the oven; you’ll have a delicious alternative that can be served with any meal, any time of year- not just on Fat Tuesday.

But I rather like my messy, brightly iced, irregular-shaped sweet rolls.

Mardi Gras King’s (cup)cakes.

Okay, time to school ya’ll a bit now. Today, in case you weren’t aware, is Mardi Gras.

The terms “Mardi Gras” (mâr′·dē grâ), “Mardi Gras season“, and “Carnival season“,[1][2][3][4][5][6] in English, refer to events of the Carnival celebrations, beginning on or after the Epiphany and ending on the day before Ash Wednesday. Mardi Gras is French for “Fat Tuesday” (in ethnic English tradition, Shrove Tuesday), referring to the practice of the last night of eating richer, fatty foods before the ritual fasting of the Lenten season, which started on Ash Wednesday. Related popular practices were associated with celebrations before the fasting and religious obligations associated with the penitential season of Lent. Popular practices included wearing masks and costumes, overturning social conventions, dancing, sports competitions, parades, etc. Similar expressions to Mardi Gras appear in other European languages sharing the Christian tradition. In English, the day is called Shrove Tuesday, associated with the religious requirement for confession before Lent begins.

It’s traditional on Fat Tuesday to eat pancakes and King’s cake.

In southern U.S.A., the tradition was brought to the area by colonists from France and Spain. King cake parties in New Orleans are documented back to the eighteenth century.

The king cake of the New Orleans Mardi Gras tradition comes in a number of styles. The most simple, said to be the most traditional, is a ring of twisted bread similar to that used in brioche topped with icing or sugar, usually colored purple, green, and gold (the traditional Carnival colors) with food coloring. There are many variants, some with a filling, the most common being cream cheese and praline.

It has become customary in the New Orleans culture that whoever finds the trinket must provide the next king cake.

King’s cake is usually flavored with nutmeg and lemon zest/lemon flavoring. I’ve adored New Orleans culture ever since I read my first Anne Rice book at age 11, so, despite not being a  religious person, or having any personal ties to Louisiana or the Creole people, I decided to make these King’s cupcakes (courtesy of King Arthur Flour) topped with cream cheese frosting (the traditional filling for New Orleans King’s cake) and purple, yellow and green sugar. Plus- the Saints won the Superbowl… and despite me hating football with every fiber of my being, I agree the people of Nola needed that boost. I made my own colored sugar (mixing 2 drops of food coloring with 1 cup sugar for each color). But you can also buy them in any and every color. I just don’t use colored sugar that often, and this way I can make as much as I need at any given time. I used some  green and purple liners too. The colors purple, yellow and green are traditional Mardi Gras colors. I just sprinkled the sugar on top sort of haphazardly. That’s just the way I am… I’m a wild card. You could use sprinkles in those colors too, instead of colored sugar.

KING’S CUPCAKES

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 ¼ teaspoons baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 6 tablespoons soft butter
  • 2/3 cup milk, at room temperature
  • ¼ teaspoon Fiori di Sicilia; OR 1 teaspoon vanilla + 1/8 teaspoon lemon oil
  • 2 large eggs

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease and flour a muffin tin. You can also line the muffin tins with papers, and spray the insides of the papers.
  2. To make the cupcakes: In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the sugar, flour, baking powder, nutmeg, and salt.
  3. Add the butter and beat with an electric mixer at low speed, until the mixture looks sandy.
  4. Combine the milk and vanilla + lemon oil (or Fiori di Sicilia) and add, all at once. Mix at low speed for 30 seconds, then increase the speed to medium and beat for 30 seconds. Scrape the bottom and sides of the mixing bowl.
  5. With the mixer running at low speed, add 1 egg. Increase the speed to medium and beat for 30 seconds. Add the second egg, again beating for 30 seconds.
  6. Scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl, and beat briefly, just till smooth.
  7. Scoop the batter by heaping ¼-cupfuls into the prepared muffin tin. A muffin scoop works well here.
  8. Bake the cupcakes for 23 to 25 minutes, until they’ve domed, and are a light golden brown around the edges. They’ll spring back when pressed gently on top, and a toothpick inserted in the center will come out clean.
  9. Remove the cupcakes from the oven, and place on a rack to cool completely before icing.

CREAM CHEESE LEMON FROSTING

Ingredients:

  • 3 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
  • ½ cup cream cheese (about 4 ounces), at room temperature
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/8 teaspoon lemon oil
  • 1 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • ½ to 1 ounce milk, enough to make a spreadable icing
  • colored sugars, preferably purple, yellow, and green

Directions:

  1. Combine the butter, cream cheese, vanilla, and lemon oil in a medium-sized bowl, and beat them together until light and fluffy.
  2. Add the sugar gradually, beating well.
  3. Beat in the milk a little at a time, until the frosting is a spreadable consistency.
  4. Spread each cake with icing, and immediately dip in gold, purple, and green sparkling sugars, covering about 1/3 of the cupcake with each color sugar.
  5. Store at room temperature for several days. For longer storage, wrap well and freeze.

Yield: 12 cupcakes.

Despite the way it looks in the pictures, I used Wilton violet food coloring for the purple, and purple liners too- not blue!

Okay I got 14 not 12, so who knows. I didn’t use a  quarter cup in each because I tried it with the first one, and it was way too much for my muffin tins. That one consequently kind of overflowed in a weird mushroom shape. So I say just fill them three quarters of the way up. These were very yummy, I’m not much of a fan of cream cheese frosting, so the added lemon flavor makes it better in my opinion. I loved the flavor of the cake itself. If you don’t have (or don’t want to buy) the Fiori di Sicilia, you can use lemon extract/lemon oil. This isn’t just a cake for Mardi Gras. The flavor would work well as a spring cupcake or even in the winter or fall. Probably it’s the nutmeg that gives it warmth and depth for wintery cakes, but yet the lemon makes it perfect for warmer weather.

Another option, if you prefer cake to cupcakes, is to make this in a bundt. Then frost just the top with the frosting, and sprinkle the sugar on top in three batches; purple, green then gold. That would resemble the circular King’s cake fairly closely.

Laissez les bons temps rouler!