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Celebrate Mardi Gras: Five Alternatives to the Classic King Cake

Don't worry, we'll still hide the baby.
Don't worry, we'll still hide the baby.
Photo by Michael Doss

This year, Mardi Gras falls on Tuesday, March 4. Also known as "Fat Tuesday," it's the last night to indulge in rich, fatty foods before Ash Wednesday, when the ritual fasting of the Lent begins. But for us, it's really just an excuse to party and eat King Cake.

The most popular Mardi Gras treat, King Cake is used to celebrate the visit of the Magi to the Christ Child. The most classic form is a cinnamon-roll-style ring slathered with purple, green and gold icing that is adorned -- either on top or inside -- with a trinket that brings luck to whoever finds it. That trinket, of course, is a tiny plastic baby that is said to represent the Christ Child (why, how do you top your cakes?).

But today we're not about the classic King Cake. Here are 5 King Cake Twists (including ways to hide that plastic baby):

1. In Shot Form Because Jell-O shots never hurt anybody

Fat Tuesday is a day of indulgence and mayhem. And we can't think of a single thing that brings about more mayhem than a Jell-O shot. This ingenious recipe uses cake-flavored vodka, gelatin, condensed milk and food coloring to make creamy purple, green and yellow Jell-O cake shots.

For the trinket: Hide a gusher inside one of the shots.

2. King Cupcakes Because cute!

These colorful Mardi Gras cupcakes are infused with booze. You heard us right.

Made with key lime pie-flavored vodka, gelatin, Sprite and food coloring, the Jell-O-shot-cupcake hybrids will be the cutest things to get you buzzed all day.

For the trinket: Stick a gusher into one of the cupcakes after baking, or plop a plastic baby right on top of the icing.

3. King (Cheese)Cake Because, obviously

This King Cake Cheesecake mimics the flavor of traditional King Cake by using a cinnamon-shortbread crust and cream-cheese filling. Use purple, green and gold icing sugars to complete the look. Special bonus: This recipe is gluten-free (that is, unless you substitute regular flour for rice flour -- which you totally can).

For the trinket: Drop a blueberry into the cream cheese mixture before baking.

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Breakfast is the most important meal of the day.
Breakfast is the most important meal of the day.
Photo by Jessica Diamond

4. For Breakfast Because you'll need something to help soak up the booze

A King Cake is basically one giant cinnamon roll, so these breakfast ideas just make sense. Go with classic cinnamon rolls and use colored icing and sprinkles. Or try these colorful cinnamon-laced pancakes, complete with lemon icing; these breakfast crescent rolls, topped with purple, green and gold sprinkles; or this festive cinnamon-sugar monkey bread with colorful icing.

For the trinket: Hide the baby under a stack of pancakes or in a crevice of the monkey bread. Sneak a piece of chocolate or a smear of jam into one of the crescent rolls before baking.

5. In Cocktail Form Because friends let friends drink their meals

Did you know that King Cake Vodka exists?

Well, now that you do, it's your civic duty to obtain a bottle and make these cocktails, including but not limited to a Mardi Gras Fizz, King Cake Mai Tai, and the Laissez les Bons Temps Rouler! (Let the Good Times Roll!).

If you can't get ahold of the King Cake Vodka, use Cinnamon Schnapps, Amaretto and Irish cream to make this King Cake Cocktail.

For the trinket: That baby will hang beautifully off the side of a glass, don't you think?


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