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Mardi Gras Sweet Spotlight: The King Cake
New Orleans is known for lots of local flavor, from pralines and po' boys to beignets and chicory coffee. But for a true taste of Mardi Gras, you can't beat a King Cake.
The origins of the King Cake go back to early-12th-century Europe, when a similar type of cake was baked to represent the arrival of the biblical Three Kings on the twelfth day after Christmas. French settlers passed along the tradition in the late 19th century to the residents of New Orleans. Many years and iterations later, the King Cake lives on, and starting on January 6th, twelve days after Christmas and the first day of Mardi Gras, through Fat Tuesday, the day before Ash Wednesday, a party isn't complete without a King Cake at hand.
Traditional King Cakes are a ring-shaped, cinnamon-flavored brioche with purple, gold, and green icing for the colors of Mardi Gras. Nowadays, King Cakes come in a variety of flavors and fillings, such as cream cheese or chocolate. A small plastic toy baby, said to represent Baby Jesus, is hidden inside the cake. It's tradition that whoever gets the slice with the hidden baby must host the next Mardi Gras party or buy the King Cake for the next celebration.
You can find them all around the area in special bakeries and local grocery stores.
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