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  • Writer's pictureRhonda Morrison

King Cake and Cajun Sauces for Mardis Gras

Updated: Apr 9, 2020

Crawfish Imperial recipe and King Cake recipe locate below.


I celebrated Mardis Gras growing up in Lake Charles, Louisiana. It was more subdued than the parades and celebrations of New Orleans. But Cajuns and other locals would line the streets for hours and days of parades. Ryan Street had several places that my friends and I would camp out for the weekend to catch every bead and doubloon we could. Scoring Krewe cups and handmade goodies were always a special treat. And every other float had a friend or family member on it that you may not have seen in a while adding to the excitement. Thinking of those parades, friends, and celebrations make me hungry for the food we had back at Maw Maw’s house. We would come in tired with beads from our shoulders to our ears. And we were typically starving.

Nothing feels better than some good ole Cajun cooking at the end of a “Throw me something, mister” day.

Maw Maw always had a fix for that. She made treats like purple, green, and yellow popcorn balls and King Cake. There was usually something saucy on the stove with freshly steamed rice as well. Whether it was etouffee, gumbo, or a sauce piquant, we could always count on her to fill us up. Nothing feels better than some good ole Cajun cooking at the end of a “Throw me something, mister” day. One of the first Cajun dishes I learned how to make is a Crawfish Imperial. Everything is from a jar or can, except for the crawfish and veggies. It is a fail-proof Cajun dish served over rice that will complete your own Mardis Gras parade day to rave reviews. This dish can be served at any time of year. My Pappy, who eats bologna sandwiches at crawfish boils, loves this dish. Thicken this sauce with cornstarch to make a filling for Crawfish Pie or Crawfish Pistolettes.

No Mardis Gras is complete without a traditional King Cake. King Cake will keep for several days. This is a sour cream bread recipe rolled into a large cinnamon roll and drizzled with icing and colored sugars. If you have never made your own bread, this is probably the simplest recipe to start out on. And if you do not have a baby to put in it, you can always substitute a dried red bean. Whoever gets the baby in their slice of cake has to provide the King Cake the following year.

Whatever festivities come your way this Mardis Gras season, stay warm and keep your belly happy.

King Cake Dough 2 tbsp. unsalted butter 8 oz. sour cream ¼ cup sugar 1/8 tsp. salt 1 pkg active dry yeast ¼ cup warm water 1 egg, beaten 3 cups all-purpose flour 1 tbsp. canola oil Filling 1 tbsp. cinnamon sugar ¾ cup sugar 6 tbsp. butter Icing 4 oz. cream cheese, softened 6 tbsp. butter, melted ½ tsp. vanilla extract 2 cups powdered sugar Colored Sugars ¾ cup sugar Red, blue, green, and yellow food coloring

Melt butter in a 3 to 5-quart stockpot over low to medium heat. Add sugar and salt. Whisk until sugar begins to dissolve. Remove from heat and stir in sour cream. Dissolve yeast in warm water and allow to sit 5 minutes. Add yeast water and egg to the sour cream mixture and whisk to combine. Slowly stir in the flour until thickened. Once thick, knead in remaining flour. Continue to knead in flour until no longer sticky and a dough ball is formed. Rub oil all over the dough ball and return to the pot. Cover the pot with plastic wrap and allow the dough to rise for 1 to 2 hours.

In a small saucepan, whisk together the filling over medium heat until combined. Remove from heat.

Remove dough from pot and place on a floured surface. Roll out dough to an 18 by 24-inch rectangle. Spread filling evenly over the rectangle to one inch from the edge of the dough. Roll the dough like a jelly roll starting at the longest side. Form the rolled dough into a circle and press the ends together to form an oval. Place oval on a parchment paper-lined cookie sheet. Cover with plastic wrap and a towel and allow rising for 30 more minutes. Preheat oven to 375. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes on the middle rack until browned. Place on wire racks immediately to cool for 30 minutes before icing.

Make the icing by beating the cream cheese until fluffy. Beat in butter and vanilla until smooth. Beat on low adding powdered sugar a little at a time until fully incorporated.

For colored sugars, separate sugars equally into 3 bowls. Add 6 drops of green to one, 6 drops of yellow to another, and three blue and three red to the last bowl to make purple. Use the back of a spoon to smash the color into the sugar.

Insert a baby in the cake from the bottom and place cake on a serving plate. Drizzle icing over the cake, if the icing is too stiff to drizzle, pop it in the microwave for 30 seconds on high. Alternate sugar colors by sprinkling them on with a spoon. Garnish with Mardis Gras beads and serve.

Crawfish Imperial 2 bell peppers, diced 2 medium onions, diced 2 tbsp. canola oil 2 cans Rotel tomatoes 16 oz. tomato sauce 1 large jar Cheez-Whiz 2 pounds crawfish tails Salt and pepper to taste

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Saute onions and peppers for 5 minutes or until onions become translucent. Stir in tomato sauce, Rotel, crawfish tails, and salt and pepper. Cook stirring until tails begin to curl. Stir in Cheez Whiz until melted. Remove from heat. Serve over steamed rice.



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