Years ago, Aaron and I went to Mardi Gras in Mobile, Alabama. Mardi Gras is a pretty big deal there; they claim to have the oldest celebration in the country. I’ve never been to the massive New Orleans Mardi Gras celebration, but I know that Mobile’s is considered to be far less touristy, more down-home style, and full of moon pies. Seriously, the folks in floats litter the streets with moon pies. You know you are having a real Mobile, Alabama Mardi Gras moment when you start eating moon pies off the street.
Another marker of Mobile Mardi Gras is that the royal courts (which I don’t really understand) are officially racially segregated. And the parades and events also seemed segregated (at least it still was when we attended in 2011, I’m guessing not that much has changed). The documentary the Order of the Myths explores this by following Mardi Gras events in 2007. It’s a terrific film.
But all of the white parades have this icky eerie klan-y feel. And you’re like, hmmm…, is this a Mardi Gras guy or one of the Grand Wizards?
I went to New Orleans a couple of years ago with my friend, Mara, and then again for work last year (and got to see Mara again there). These two trips were significantly different because the second time I was there for work, pregnant, and not drinking, and the first time? Well, I’m sure you can imagine what I was up to. Stuff like this.
Even though I’ve been to New Orleans a couple of times, I’ve never actually tried king cake. But I’ve always been curious about it, what with it’s colorful showiness and all.
So this year for Mardi Gras, I decided I was going to make it for myself.
If you don’t know about king cake, it’s a yeasted cake (more of a sweet bread, really), covered in frosting and sprinkled with yellow, purple, and green sugar.
There’s usually a plastic baby hid inside the cake and if you find the baby, then you’ll get prosperity for the next year (and apparently the responsibility of throwing next year’s Mardi Gras party).
But I decided that I couldn’t make a plain king cake. I wanted it to be special, weird, over-the-top.
I knew I wasn’t going to decorate it like I do with other cakes. That wouldn’t work well, I thought. But… oooohhhh…. what if I covered it in beignets?! Or, what’s better than beignets? MINI BEIGNETS!
And then, how about enough plastic babies that everyone with a slice gets to be prosperous?! Dump a ton of tiny plastic babies on top?!
Of course, it took me forever to get it together to actually make the cake. You know, I have my own big non-plastic baby to tend to.
But two weeks after Mardi Gras, I did it. And here are the results.
If curious about the recipes, I used this king cake recipe from Epicurious, and this beignet recipe. Both were outstanding. I used sweetened condensed milk to “glue” the beignets and babies onto the king cake.
One thing I’d like to note was that I tried to find racially diverse plastic babies. But guess what? I could only find tiny white babies for my king cake. I did think for a split second that maybe I could dye some of the plastic babies, making them more racially diverse. But then realized that I would risk creating little tiny black face plastic babies, which would be worse than having the all white plastic babies on the cake. So the cake looks extra creepy and white supremacist. Maybe I should send it off to the white royalty court in Mobile?