Recipe: Mardi Gras King Cake with Wild Blueberries
By Danielle Omar, MS, RDN
I’m fascinated by traditions and the idea that you do something just because it’s the way it has always been done. I especially love traditions that include eating certain foods. Italians eat the Feast of the Seven Fishes on Christmas Eve. In Mexico, they celebrate dia de la Candelaria by eating tamales. And in New Orleans, there is the traditional Mardi Gras dessert – King Cake.
Mardi Gras itself is a pretty amazing tradition. Rooted in religion, the Mardi Gras season officially starts on January 6th, leading up to Mardi Gras Day, or Fat Tuesday, which is the day before Ash Wednesday and always 46 days before Easter.
Mardi Gras is also known as the Twelfth Night feast of the Epiphany, or the day that the three kings first visited the baby Jesus. As part of the celebration, it is traditional to bake a cake in honor of the three kings. “King Cake” is typically oval-shaped and decorated in the traditional Mardi Gras colors, purple which represents justice, green which represents faith, and gold representing power. A small baby, symbolizing the baby Jesus, is traditionally hidden inside the King Cake. Whoever gets the slice of cake with the baby inside is rewarded with good luck and is usually responsible for bringing the King Cake to the next party!
Custom prevails that King Cakes are made from twisted strands of dough, sprinkled with cinnamon and decorated with purple, green and gold colored sugar. It was not until the 1980’s that bakeries in France started to stuff the King Cake with various types of custards, puddings and cheese-based fillings.
I can’t imagine a more innovative way to highlight the intense and delicious flavor of Wild Blueberries than to mix them with cream cheese and stuff them into a King Cake!
Now if you’re like me and the thought of creating a twisted cinnamon dough has you shaking in your boots then you are in luck because I have created a King Cake that you can literally make in less than 15 minutes, with no baking skills required! That’s right, 15 minutes to King Cake heaven, all due to the wonderful versatility of angel food cake and Wild Blueberries.
First, frozen Wild Blueberries are blended into a decadent cream cheese filling, providing intense blueberry flavor and gorgeous purple color. The filling is then stuffed into a halved angel food cake. Then comes the fun part – put the top back on the cake, drizzle on the glaze and decorate the cake with traditional Mardi Gras-colored sugar.
In my opinion the Wild Blueberry and cream cheese filling is really the star in each bite of this tasty treat! Of course it’s a wonderful added bonus that Wild Blueberries provide a healthy serving of natural phytochemicals and twice the antioxidant capacity of regular blueberries.
I love this modern version of King Cake. Although not traditional, the spirit of Mardi Gras is alive and well in this fun and easy to make King Cake!
About the Author
Danielle Omar is a registered dietitian, clean-eating coach, teacher and cookbook author. She is a passionate food and nutrition educator and founded Danielle Omar Nutrition to support busy men and women on their journey to becoming their healthiest self. An avid cook, she also enjoys sharing plant-based recipes and nutrition strategies on her Food Confidence blog. Danielle has a Master’s degree in Nutrition and has been teaching nutrition at the college level for over 10 years. She has contributed to local and national media outlets such as The Washingtonian, The Washington Post, The New York Times, Shape Magazine, and Women’s Health Magazine. Through her private nutrition practice, media work, and group programs, Danielle has successfully motivated hundreds of busy professionals and families to eat confidently and live a healthy life.