Wednesday, February 8, 2012

King Cake Parties & King Cake Balls

The Fest: King’s Day kicks off Carnival, New Orleans
If you get the baby, the next rounds on you …

In Louisiana, when holiday season (Turkey Day to New Years) ends, Carnival begins.  Parade season begins on Jan. 6, King’s Day (named for the day the Three Wise Men visited Jesus). This is the day everyone is supposed to take down their Christmas trees. In most of the U.S., I can imagine this is a sad day, the party’s over. 

But in New Orleans, the party’s just begun.  Hello half-off green and red candy and — drum roll, please — King Cakes!

What’s a King Cake you say? (If you're in Louisiana, just go with it.) 

A Haydel's King Cake, from their website.

Imagine something not quite the consistency of a cake, but more like a roll or bread. The filling always has cinnamon, almost always has cream cheese and often fruit — popular flavors include: strawberry, raspberry, apple and lemon.

The braided dough is topped with white icing and colored sugar in the traditional Mardi Gras colors: purple, green and gold.  *Tip: If given the choice, eat the yellow; the purple and green sugar are more likely to stain your mouth.

And, inside the cake is a plastic baby, which represents baby Jesus, because Carnival starts with King’s Day (King’s Day = King Cake).  Whoever gets the baby has to buy the next King Cake.  *Tip:  If you're cheap, don’t eat the biggest piece.  The baby is usually in the biggest piece because the person cutting the cake knows the baby’s location and is afraid to cut it.

Found this King Cake baby online.  This is pretty much what they look like, but sometimes gold.  

When I was a kid, we would eat King Cake in class and the kid who got the baby would bring the next cake.  But, in my dad’s day, these King Cake parties were held at home.  But, I should add that my dad is from New Orleans, not a suburb, and went to a small, Catholic school.

At these parties, there would be a King and Queen, just like big Mardi Gras balls thrown by adults. Getting the baby also ensured royal status at these grade school soirees.

My dad recalls having a King Cake party at his house, because he got the baby the previous Saturday, where he acted as my Gammie (his mom) would say, “like a holy terror.”

My dad said he remembers being the ringleader in getting the boys to “pick on the girls.”

“There were no constraints on kids eating sugar back then,” my dad joked. “The results were predictable.”

Now, there are King Cakes and there are king cakes.  In my personal opinion, Randazzo’s and Haydel’s are the best.  And you can order them from anywhere in the country!

The Feast: King Cake Balls
Instead of trying to compete with King Cake masters, I am going to give you a recipe I made up in my mind grapes … King Cake Balls

I don’t know if I’ve mentioned this before, but I am a cake ball master.  I’ve been doing it since before it was cool and I don’t use one of those kits.  I’ve made skulls, s’more flavored, sparkly and zebra striped.  I have to give credit to my sister for the s’more idea, but still, I was jazzed to try yet another cake ball concoction …

I tried it, it worked, was delicious, here’s the recipe:

-       1 can Pillsbury (whatever brand you like) crescent rolls
-       4 to 8 oz. cream cheese (I try to use the lite)
-       White bakers chocolate or white almond bark
-       Purple, green and gold crystal sprinkles
-       Cinnamon and Sugar

Bake the crescent rolls as directed.
After cooling, shred the crescent rolls and combine with cream cheese. You should start with 4 oz. (half packet of cream cheese) and see if the dough is sticky and can be easily rolled into a ball.  If not, add more cream cheese until reaching desired texture.
Add cinnamon to taste and just a spoon or so of sugar.
Roll into 1” balls. 
Dip into melted bakers chocolate.
Decorate with crystal sprinkles in Mardi Gras colors!

I did mine in color blocks and set them up to look like a real King Cake. AND it really tasted like King Cake.  Oh, I also hid a baby in one!  

Looks like I made a real King Cake ...

But on closer inspection ...

Click here for the 2013 follow-up post.


  1. Ummm - so creative. I'm thinking these could be good with cinnamon rolls instead of crescent rolls too...thanks for the super creative idea. I'll have to try these here in DC :)

  2. I am borrowing the idea for a late Mardi Gras celebration here in DC this weekend! Great Blog btw! :)

  3. I made these tonight and they were fantastic.

    1. What a fabulous day to make them! I am so glad you enjoyed them and I hope you had a great Mardi Gras!

  4. How many cake balls does the recipe make?

    1. It makes 13-20, depending on how big you make the balls. Good baking!


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