All hail, his Majesty the King Cake!
There is quite the history behind a King Cake. If you live under a rock and have never heard of the King Cake, please sit down – professor Jenny is going to give you a lesson (and slap your knuckles with a ruler, just for fun). You can pass along this info to your kiddos while making the tasty treat, as they ooh and ahh over how smart you are. The King Cake is associated with the festival Mardi Gras or Carnival in other countries. It was named after the biblical 3 Kings of Bethlehem and because it took the 3 Kings twelve days (hence the 12 days of Christmas) to travel to honor Jesus in Bethlehem (on Epiphany) the King Cake “season” (what’s that like at New York Fashion Week?) runs from Twelfth Night through Mardi Gras day. Each cake has a trinket baby (some say that baby represents baby Jesus) hidden within the cake. If you receive this baby in your slice then you are the King/Queen of the party and must bring next years cake. Professor Jenny is exhausted from that history lesson so you can learn more yourself here.
It is said that you may NOT make a King Cake and serve this before the twelfth night (Jan 6) or past the end or Mardi Gras. This year Mardi Gras falls on March 8). For some reason no explanation was given, but I would take that warning very seriously. You don’t want king cakes exploding all over your house (or do you??). If you test this, let us know what happens.
Here is the King Cake recipe I followed (and almost managed to royally mess up). There are plenty of easier recipes out there, but I love inducing pain on myself so I went with a more difficult recipe. I can’t say I made the prettiest King Cake, but as I scour through other cakey pictures, I notice mine is in good company with other ugly cakes. So I guess it’s not really about the presentation with this one.
We thought we’d modify this age-old recipe to make it family friendly by taking the little baby charm (major choking hazard) out of the cake and replacing it with a chunk of chocolate. When one of the kiddos receives the baby make them the little King or Queen of your Mardi Gras party and tell them they have to help make it next year (or make them clean up – either way – you do it in a way that gets your chores done).
Enjoy, your Majesty.