Feb 11, 2013

Mardi Gras Menu 4: Happy Mardi Gras!

Tomorrow is the big day.

Growing up, I always thought King Cake, or King's Cake, was called King Cake because New Orleans Mardi Gras was jam packed with royalty.  Each Krewe has a king, queen, and court of dukes, maids, pages and so on.  More royalty than you can shake a scepter at.  More royalty than necessary because everyone knows the royalty floats hardly throw anything.

But this ultra sweet treat is so named because it honors the three wise men--as in those "we three kings of orient are" dudes.  Twelve days after Christmas (that's Twelfth Night, yall), three kings brought gifts to the Christ Child.  They get a fancy-schmancy cake in honor of their travels and generosity.

Though they are now available well before carnival season, when I was a child fancy-schmancy King Cakes could not be had until January 6th.  Twelfth Night is the start button for the carnival season.    

Being backwards like I am, every year I like to end my Mardi Gras posts with a King Cake.

I know what you're thinking.
She uploaded the wrong picture.
She's been hit in the head by too many Mardi Gras beads.
She's been drinking too much of that Praline Pecan Liqueur.

This year's final Mardi Gras trivia is that what you see above is a King Cake.
Not a traditional New Orleans style King Cake.
It's a traditional French style King Cake...Galette des Rois.  Made with puff pastry and often filled with almond paste, this type of King Cake has a more subdued look.  But with puff pastry, Praline pastry cream filling, and praline topping, it's anything but subdued in flavor.

The first step is to make your filling so it can chill and set.  I made a pastry cream flavored with Praline Pecan Liqueur and vanilla.  The idea for the flavor comes from a recipe for Galette des Rois found in Cooking Up a Storm: Recipes Lost and Found from The Times-Picayune of New Orleans.  That recipe spiked marshmallow creme with the liqueur.  I really wanted to make my own cream filling.

Next, it's time to work on that puff pastry.  You'll need both of the sheets that come in the box.

Thaw as the package recommends.  On a floured surface, lay out one sheet.  Place the other sheet on top.

Roll out to about 11 x 15.  Yes, I use a ruler.

Cut into an oval shape.  Yes, I freaked out because I had to "free form" it.  When the words "free" and "form" are smooshed together, I really can't comprehend.  (See the use of a ruler above.)

Cut a smaller oval from the middle so that the width of the pastry is 3".  Uh huh.  Ruler again.  The recipe instructs that the scraps can be frozen and used at a later time.

I had The Husband cut out a rockin' puff pastry crown to decorate the cake.

Bake your oval of puff pastry dough until golden.

Let it cool enough to handle, and slice in half horizontally with a bread knife.

Sandwich time.

The top of the cake is baked again with a mixture of brown sugar, pecans, and Praline Liqueur.

Which melts then hardens into a delicious praline topping.

When the cake has cooled, spread your filling on the bottom half.  Sink the baby into it.
Which will make you feel kind of weird.

But the praline topping and filling will make you forget all that.

I found this style of King Cake much easier and faster to make than a New Orleans style since there is no waiting for dough to rise, making icing, or making colored sugars.  Although the original recipe suggests an (optional) step of decorating with icing and purple, green, and gold sugar, I felt that this would take away from the overall look of the cake.  Not to mention it would also be entirely too sweet.

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Praline Galette des Rois
adapted from Cooking Up a Storm

1 (17.75 oz) package of frozen puff pastry--thaw according to package

for the filling:
1 cup milk
1/4 cup Praline Pecan Liqueur
1/4 c white sugar
3 egg yolks
1/8 cup flour
4 tsp cornstarch
1 tsp vanilla

for the topping:
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1 cup brown sugar
2 Tbsp Praline Pecan Liqueur

Heat the milk and liqueur in a saucepan over low heat until it begins to steam.  In bowl, whisk the sugar, egg yolks, flour, and cornstarch together while the milk mixture warms.  Whisk until there are no lumps.

Add half of the warmed milk mixture to the egg mixture, whisking as you do.  Add this milk and egg mixture to the pot of warm milk and stir or whisk for 3-4 minutes, until the mixture thickens.  (Aim for a temperature of about 170 F.)

Remove from the burner and add in the vanilla.  Chill before using.

Preheat oven to 400 F.

Grease a large cookie sheet or use a silpat.  Flour your counter top and rolling pin.  Lay out 1 sheet of puff pastry on the floured counter.  Place the second sheet on top of it.  Form the pastry sheets into a rectangle using the floured rolling pin.  Flatten until your rectangle is about 11" x 15".

Cut an oval shape from your rectangle.  Then, cut out the center so that the pastry will be about 3" wide all around.  The scraps can be cut into various shapes to decorate the cake, or can be frozen for another use.  We used the center scrap to form a crown.

Place your oval on the prepared baking sheet.  Place in the oven and bake for about 17-20 minutes, or until puffed and golden.

Remove from oven.  When cool enough to handle, slice the cake in half horizontally with a sharp bread knife (serrated).  Lower the oven to 375 F.

While the cake bakes, make the topping.  Mix together the pecans, brown sugar, and liqueur.

Place the top of the cake cut side down on your baking sheet.  With your hands, place the pecan mixture on the top of the pastry oval.   Return to oven and bake for about 5 minutes, until the sugar melts and is bubbly.  Remove from oven to cool.

Spread the filling on the cut side of your bottom oval.  Place a plastic baby or dried bean in the filling.  Use a spatula to remove the top layer from the pan and place on top off the layer with filling.  Slice and serve.

Linking with:

Food on Friday: French Food @ Carole's Chatter
Photobucket Jam Hands  Hearth and Soul blog hop at Premeditated Leftovers
Memories by the Mile
Feeding Big
Love Bakes Good Cakes
Nap-Time Creations
Back for Seconds
White Lights on Wednesdays
Recipe Box Miz Helen’s Country CottagePhotobucket
Gallery of Favorites BWS tips buttonFreedom Fridays
The Chicken Chick

A parade of King Cakes:
Traditional New Orleans Style  w/ Cream Cheese Filling

Hazelnut Praline Filled
Blueberry King Cake
King Cup Cakes


  1. Oh my Michelle that does look fit for a King to eat, or us Queens.

  2. I'll be by later for some chicory (maybe spiked with some of that praline liquor) and a slice of this cake. ;) It looks scrummy AND beautiful.

  3. This reminds me of what we call here in my part of the country a "Kringle" This sure sounds good! Lynn H

  4. yummy! That turned out great! Thanks for linking up to Tasteful Tuesdays at Nap-Time Creations. I have a new button that I would LOVE for you to put somewhere on your blog if you get a chance... oh and I am hosting a week of giveaways in honor of my blog birthday. A new one up every day. http://www.nap-timecreations.com/2013/02/blog-birthday-week-custom-fabric-abc.html

  5. This sounds so good...Thank you for sharing with the Clever Chicks Blog Hop this week; I hope you’ll join us again!

    Kathy Shea Mormino

    The Chicken Chick


  6. This is even better looking that the colorful King Cake. I think I could just eat the filling and be happy!

    Thank you for sharing this at the In and Out of the Kitchen link party!
    I look forward to seeing what you bring next week!

    Cynthia at hattp://FeedingBig.com

  7. Thank you so much Michelle. This looks absolutely amazing! I am with Lynn this does look like a Kringle. Every Christmas a sales rep from New Orleans bring Kringles up here to his North Louisiana accounts. I can't wait to try this.

  8. This sounds perfect, Michelle! Pinned this to try - for breakfast maybe?!

    1. You're being featured at tomorrow's All My Bloggy Friends, Michelle :) I can't wait to see you there this week with goodies in hand!

  9. Anonymous2/13/2013

    I love reading your posts, Michelle. They are humorous and filled with new information. I want to jump on a plane and join you.

  10. I'm not usually a fan of king cakes, because they are just WAY too sweet! But this recipe sounds delish! Thanks for Posting!

  11. YUM! Happy Mardi Gras ;) Looks great! Found you at Spatulas on Parade!

  12. I'm quite sure I already left a comment.....
    Anyway - this is a wonderful cake.
    I've checked about the praline liqueur (as I wasn't sure if we had it here) and bought something very similar. I want to try this

  13. Hi Michelle,
    This is the best looking King Cake that I have seen, and I can't wait to try it. This is a great post! Hope you are having a great Valentine weekend and thank you so much for sharing with Full Plate Thursday.
    Come Back Soon!
    Miz Helen

  14. My guess is that this one tastes more interesting than the flashy cake... my that filling looks good. Thank you for sharing the recipe and the tradition on foodie friday... I have always been fascinated by New Orleans and having the place come alive to me through it's food is wonderful. Thank you.

  15. OH MY!! This looks so good and I am on a low cal kick:( I am pinning because as soon as I get all skinny and hot looking, I will treat myself to this with that Pecan Liqueur drinkie you made!!!

    Thanks for making me absolutely drool!!!

  16. Evelyn from My Turn for Us sent me over to take a look at this. Darn lady. This looks amazing!!! I want.

  17. Omg, "to die for", cher! That filling sounds heavenly and I would love a big piece of that cake right now! Drooling!

  18. What a lovely King Cake! I really like the puff pastry, the creamy filling and that gorgeous topping. I've really enjoyed your Mardi Gras posts. I always enjoy learning about festivals and traditions in far away places and Mardi Gras sounds like great fun :)

  19. Your King Cake looks amazing. The filing is incredible. Thanks for sharing on Thursdays Treasures.

  20. That looks amazing and WAY better than a regular ol' king cake!

  21. I just shared this on Facebook and pinned it to my Freedom Fridays board!!
    Thank you so much for sharing at Freedom Fridays Blog Hop and thank you for being one of my Five Faves!!

    Have a totally awesome day!

    PS Are you packed to go to Georgia after some more of that Liqueur? LOL

  22. I think I would prefer this version over the color sugar coated bread version. This looks absolutely delicious! I can't wait to try it, but I'm not waiting until January ;)


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