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Come Party With Me: Mardi Gras Bash - Menu (Sweet Appetizers)



Earlier today I talked about the menu for the Mardi Gras fiesta I am hosting this Saturday night. I intend on making several savory and sweet appetizers to tide the crowd over for the night. I already decided to offer guests
Muffulettas

,
Spicy Bacon-Wrapped Shrimp

, and a
Cajun Crab Dip

. To see what sweet treats I'll be pairing alongside these tasty nibbles, read more


A
King's Cake

is a traditional dessert served in New Orleans on Mardi Gras so I will make one and slice it into mini bite sized pieces. If you don't have the time or the desire to make a King's Cake you can order one from Haydel's Bakery in Louisiana. For those who aren't in the mood for cake,
New Orleans Praline Pieces

are a crunchy, buttery alternative.



New Orleans Praline Pieces
From Gourmet magazine

3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into bits
1 1/4 cups pecan pieces (5 oz), toasted
Special equipment: a candy thermometer with a clamp

  1. Butter a 9-inch square metal baking pan.
  2. Sift granulated sugar through a sieve into a bowl to remove any lumps or large crystals, then rub brown sugar through sieve into bowl. Pour sugars into a 2 1/2- to 3-quart heavy saucepan, being careful not to get sugar on side of pan.
  3. Add cream, butter, and 1/4 teaspoon salt and cook over very low heat, stirring frequently with a wooden spoon and washing down any sugar crystals on side of pan with a pastry brush dipped in cold water, until sugar is dissolved (do not let simmer), 10 to 15 minutes.
  4. Clamp on candy thermometer, then boil syrup over moderately high heat, undisturbed, until it registers 236°F and a teaspoon of syrup dropped into a small bowl of cold water holds a very soft ball when pressed between your fingers, 3 to 6 minutes.
  5. Remove pan from heat, leaving thermometer in place, and cool, undisturbed, until syrup registers 220°F, 1 to 3 minutes.
  6. Stir syrup with cleaned and dried wooden spoon until thickened and creamy, 1 to 2 minutes, then immediately stir in pecans. Working very fast (syrup hardens quickly), pour into baking pan, scraping sides of saucepan with wooden spoon.
  7. Let mixture harden at room temperature, about 45 minutes. Cut and break into pieces.

Makes 18 (2-inch) confections.

Make ahead: Praline pieces keep, layers separated by wax paper, in an airtight container in a cool place 3 days.



King's Cake
From Emeril Lagasse

2 envelopes active dry yeast
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 pound (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
1/2 cup warm milk (about 110°F)
5 large egg yolks, at room temperature
4 1/2 cups bleached all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
1 teaspoon vegetable oil
1 pound cream cheese, at room temperature
4 cups confectioner's sugar
1 plastic king cake baby or a pecan half
5 tablespoons milk, at room temperature
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
Purple-, green-, and gold-tinted sugar sprinkles

  1. Combine the yeast and granulated sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook.
  2. Add the melted butter and warm milk.
  3. Beat at low speed for 1 minute. With the mixer running, add the egg yolks, then beat for 1 minute at medium-low speed.
  4. Add the flour, salt, nutmeg, and lemon zest and beat until everything is incorporated. Increase the speed to high and beat until the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl, forms a ball, and starts to climb up the dough hook.
  5. Remove the dough from the bowl. Using your hands, form the dough into a smooth ball.
  6. Lightly oil a bowl with the vegetable oil. Place the dough in the bowl and turn it to oil all sides. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside in a warm, draft-free place until doubled in size, about 2 hours.
  7. Meanwhile, make the filling. In a large mixing bowl, combine the cream cheese and 1 cup of the confectioner's sugar. Blend by hand or with an electric mixer on low speed. Set aside.
  8. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface. Using your fingers, pat it out into a rectangle about 30 inches long and 6 inches wide.
  9. Spread the filling lengthwise over the bottom half of the dough, then flip the top half of the dough over the filling.
  10. Seal the edges, pinching the dough together.
  11. Shape the dough into a cylinder and place it on the prepared baking sheet seam side down. Shape the dough into a ring and pinch the ends together so there isn't a seam. Insert the king cake baby or pecan half into the ring from the bottom so that it is completely hidden by the dough.
  12. Cover the ring with plastic wrap or a clean kitchen towel and place in a warm, draft-free place. Let the dough rise until doubled in size, about 45 minutes.
  13. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350°F.
  14. Brush the top of the risen cake with 2 tablespoons of the milk. Bake until golden brown, 25 to 30 minutes.
  15. Remove from the oven and let cool completely on a wire rack.
  16. Make the icing: Combine the remaining 3 tablespoons milk, the lemon juice, and the remaining 3 cups confectioner's sugar in medium-size mixing bowl. Stir to blend well. With a rubber spatula, spread the icing evenly over the top of the cake. Sprinkle with the sugar crystals, alternating colors around the cake.
  17. The cake is traditionally cut into 2-inch-thick slices with all the guests in attendance.

Serves 20-22.

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