They know how to party in New Orleans, especially before the forty days of Lent when Christians are supposed to fast or give up something they like. Mardi Gras is the name for the time period before Lent … a joyous carnival like atmosphere of parades and indulgence.
And, in New Orleans, King Cake or Three Kings Cake is the personification of that joyous occasion in pastry form.
There are a number of variations in terms of whether there’s a filling or whether it’s braided, but decorating the finished cake with the colours purple, gold and green is traditional in the southern regions of the United States.
For Christmas I made a sweet Boursin cheese spread flavoured with dried cranberries and orange zest. It was tasty, but other than a single rather skimpy smear on my Christmas bread wreath, it’s been lingering in my fridge. So when I was deciding on a filling for my Mardis Gras style (Three) Kings Cake during the Epiphany, I repurposed my sweet Boursin. I thought it needed some additional texture and substance, so I chopped up about half to three-quarters of a cup of sliced almonds and sprinkled it over the Boursin.
The resulting cake, using this recipe, was tender and delicious, though my decoration fell short of my expectations. It needed a lot more glaze. Double or even quadruple, I think.
The filling was an unqualified success.
Cranberry-Orange Spice Boursin – makes about 3/4 cup of spread
1/2 pkg cream cheese, room temp
1 tbsp unsalted butter, room temp
1/8 tsp salt
1/4 cup dried cranberries, finely chopped
1-1 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp orange zest
Cream together the cream cheese, butter and salt using a hand blender. Stir in the cranberries, black pepper and orange zest. Pack into a small bowl, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate so that the flavours will marry. Remove from the fridge 1 or 2 hrs before serving so that the Boursin will be soft enough to spread.