Darcy Lenz Darcy Lenz
February 28, 2014

Each Friday, we share five things that are getting buzz around the Cooking Light offices—from what we’re reading around the Web, to what’s hot on Instagram, or even our latest favorite ingredient.

In honor of the upcoming culmination of the Mardi Gras Season on Tuesday, March 4th (i.e. Fat Tuesday), we're painting this installment of Five on Friday in purple, green, and gold. Not a celebration for the faint of heart, Mardi Gras is overflowing with flamboyant and festive traditions--my favorite: the edible one, of course. The legacy of the regal, shimmering sugar-coated king cake is as rich as the pastry ring itself. If you've never had a slice, you should probably find yourself a new friend who hails from NOLA. A customary present day king cake consists of a baked Danish dough ring coated with simple white glaze and dressed in Mardi Gras colored sugars. However, in typical New Orleans fashion, chefs throughout "The Big Easy" are busting the norm and shaking things up a bit.

From the outright bizarre to the ultra decadent, I give you five stand-out renditions of the beloved Mardi Gras king cake.

Food Drunk's King Cake BurgerLet's kick the collection off with a bang. Our first spotlight rendition is brought to you by the folks at FOOD DRUNK, a local food truck dishing up "chef inspired, alcohol infused cuisine." Festive though it may be, this burger is but a simple 3-component construction: ground Black Angus brisket patty and aged sharp cheddar, sandwiched within a custom design, king cake-inspired bun. The colorful brioche breading was born from a collaboration with Ye Olde Bake Shoppe and, according to the food truck's Facebook page, is not as sweet as it looks. A dainty glop of basic fondant glaze and a sprinkling of colored sugar is but a graceful balance to the sharp bite of cheese and savory beef.

Cochon Restaurant's "Elvis" King CakeNot going to lie, I'd be mildly disappointed if a NOLA restaurant whose name literally translates to "pig" failed to provide a king cake variation worth pigging out on...  No worries, Pastry Chef Rhonda Ruckman didn't leave anyone hanging. Filled with peanut butter and bananas, frosted with toasted marshmallow, and topped off with candied bacon, this is a king cake fit for a (or the) king.

Tivoli & Lee's King Cake Bread PuddingIn the spirit of staple Louisiana fare (boudin, anyone?), this dish stems from a desire to prevent anything from going to waste. According to the folks at Tivoli & Lee, their King Cake Bread Pudding is a delectable example of how they "sell the good stuff and make something even better out of the scraps." To create this Mardi Gras spirited treat, stale king cake is soaked in a custard base of almond oil, sugars, and cream, then baked up and served with love.

 

Emeril’s Delmonico's King Cake Doughnut

Because everyone knows that cake doughnuts are the best doughnuts. And king cake doughnuts? Royally supreme.

Delmonico serves these babies up with strawberry jam and toasted pecans throughout the Mardi Gras season.

Cottage Catering's Muffalleta King CakeOkay, so you may need some mental prepping to wrap your mind and/or your mouth around this "king cake." If you're a fan of a typical Muffelleta, then I'd say this bready ring stuffed with Italian deli cuts and olive salad may very well please your palate. The major leap here is getting yourself over the melted Provolone "frosting" and food-colored Romano cheese adornments.

KINGLY BONUS: Mardi Gras LinensIf you happen to choose Mardi Gras as the time of year you want to behave like a civilized person, then you should definitely have something lovely to swaddle whatever variation of king cake you opt for. Lovely would be saying the least of these hand woven pieces from Loomed Nola. One half of the duo behind Loomed, Molly Pittman works directly with eight of the remaining families in Turkey who weave as a trade to create her elegant line of cotton and linen products. Her Mardi Gras inspired works include the throw and hand towels pictured here. And as you can see, it doesn't take a tablescape prodigy to implement these pieces as a gracefully festive runner and napkins for your Mardi-party table. (Runner: $50; Hand Towel: $25)

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