The tradition of Mardi Gras in New Orleans was introduced in Louisiana by the first French settlers, and officially started on Tuesday, March 3, 1699.
Christian tradition considers Mardi Gras to be the last day of “debauchery”, the day when everything is allowed, before the start of Lent, and it is traditionally celebrated by consuming all the fatty foods that are still in the closet before the so-called period of abstinence.
The date varies from year to year as it is fixed relative to the date of Easter. This date is in February or sometimes at the beginning of March, but obviously always falls on a Tuesday and precedes Easter by 47 days.
The Christian origins of Mardi Gras open the period of Easter, which is an essential period in the Christian calendar, during which happiness and sadness alternate, until Easter, which is a day of great joy.
Mardi Gras is celebrated in several countries around the world, including: Finland, Switzerland and Russia. In New Orleans the “carnival” is named “Mardi Gras” (French for “Fat Tuesday”), and it is probably the most popular tradition in the world.
The traditional colors of New Orleans are purple, gold, and green. Purple, for justice. Gold for power. Green for faith. These three colors honor the Three Kings who visited baby Jesus on the 12th day after Christmas, on Epiphany, which marks the beginning of the Carnival.
A popular custom was and still is to bake a special cake in honor of the three kings called the king cake.
King cake can be either a round or oval-shaped crown with a figurine that represents a baby that is often made with pecans, or sometimes plastic, porcelain or even gold. This figurine, placed inside the dough before baking, represents baby Jesus. The cake is then decorated with colored sugar in the three colors I mentioned: purple, green and gold.
There are several recipes for king cake. I chose to make non traditional King Cake using crescent rolls and cream cream cheese filling.
I just love celebrating Mardi Gras and I love New Orleans it’s such a beautiful city with so much history. If you have never been there for a visit I encourage you to visit.
Mardi Gras Crescent Roll King Cake
- 2 8 ounce packages refrigerated crescent roll dough
- 2 8 ounce packages cream cheese, softened
- ½ cup brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 cup chopped pecans
- 2 cups powdered sugar
- ¼ cup milk
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
- Colored sugars in purple green, yellow
- Small plastic baby favor or coin
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Open crescent rolls and separate triangles. Arrange triangles on a large, round baking stone or pizza pan with the points in the middle.
Press the crescent rolls together at their middle in a round circle, allowing the edges to remain loose.
In a mixer, combine cream cheese, brown sugar, cinnamon, and vanilla until well blended. Then, mix in pecans.
Evenly spoon cream cheese mixture over the pressed area of the crescent rolls.
Fold points of crescent rolls over the cream cheese mixture, pressing the tips into the other side of the dough. Then, fold the wide edges of the dough over the cream cheese mixture, tucking the ends under the inside of the crescent ring. Lightly press to seal any open creases.
Bake for 25 minutes or until golden.
Allow king cake to cool slightly but not completely.
In a medium bowl, whisk together powdered sugar, milk, and lemon juice until blended with no lumps remaining. Pour icing over king cake. Immediately add colored sugars.
Before serving, slide a plastic baby favor or coin under the king cake. The person who gets the token in their slice will make the next king cake.
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