Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Krispy Kreme Brownies for Mardi Gras! (Re-post)

Happy Fat Tuesday! I'm going to do something a little unusual today and re-share a post from the early, early days of The Traveling Spoon. It's a long post but I think it's worth another look (especially since only a handful of people saw it the first time, my blog was so new!) and, best of all, it contains a super-indulgent 'recipe' that's just what you need on this traditional day of excess. So without further ado...

Doughnuts + Brownies = THE perfect Fat Tuesday recipe!

Observe the gorgeous chunk of doughnut buried inside that brownie!

Want to find out why? For a brief history lesson, round-the-world tour and one very delicious and indulgent recipe, keep reading....... 

Everyone has seen over-the-top footage of the Carnival celebrations in Brazil or pictures of the riotous Mardi Gras festivities in New Orleans and these events have a reputation as two of the world's greatest parties.  Of course, you can't have a party without cake, but did you know that these parties also have links with pancakes, dumplings...and doughnuts?

For many cultures and religions around the world, today is a red-letter day in terms of food.  The very name 'Fat Tuesday,' or Mardi Gras in French, conjures up images of gluttony and excess.  This no-nonsense moniker refers to the tradition of consuming rich and fatty foods on the final day before the beginning of the Lenten fasting season, which begins on Ash Wednesday.  Although the tradition is predominantly Catholic, it's also upheld by some Protestant denominations and even celebrated as a cultural, rather than a religious event.

Growing up in England, we celebrated this day as Shrove Tuesday - a more spartan affair focused on penitence (or shriving) in preparation for the somber season of Lent.  But even this serious holiday had a focus on food, specifically pancakes, with pancake races and pancake suppers cropping up all over the country.  Rather than a 'last hurrah' before 40 days of clean eating, Pancake Day was designed to use up any rich ingredients such as eggs, milk and sugar that would not be permitted during the upcoming Lenten fasts.  These days, the fasting is largely forgotten but the pancakes, and parties, remain.

By now you may be asking yourself what any of this has to do with Krispy Kremes and brownies (besides the fact that they're both tasty and fatty, of course).  Well, before I share my super-rich Fat Tuesday recipe, I want to take you on a little world tour of Mardi Gras culinary customs.  I promise there's a reason for this so bear with me!

We'll start closer to home, shall we, with New Orleans, USA.  Undoubtedly the epicenter of American Mardi Gras festivities, this city is known all over the world for it's over-the-top and not-to-be-missed carnival celebrations.  It's famous for muffalettas and po'boys - two hearty and certainly fatty sandwiches consumed all year, but perfect for Fat Tuesday - and also the King Cake.  Traditionally associated with Epihpany, the feast Day of the Three Kings on January 6th, you'll find King Cakes eaten all throughout the pre-Lenten season because in New Orleans, if you're going to go for it, you might as well go big! This culinary tradition has variations all over the world.....

Yikes! I certainly hope my photography has improved, somewhat, from the early days

In Spain and Spanish America, the King Cake is called roscón orosca de reyes and is usually eaten only in January for the Feast of Ephiphany.  The timing of this tradition is the same in France, where the King Cake is called la galette des Rois.  It's also known by the same name in Belgium, where the city of Binche celebrates it's most important day on Mardi Gras with the Carnival of Binche.  This Carnival is best known for its street parade, just like the celebrations on Rosenmontag, the Monday before Mardi Gras, in Cologne, Mainz and Duesseldorf, Germany.  Of course, Germans also celebrate Mardi Gras, calling it FastnachtFasching or Karneval (though these last two are also the name for the entire season).  Fastnacht means "Eve of the Beginning of the Fast" and is also celebrated in Austria where it is called Faschingsdienstag, Fasting Tuesday, and is the main event of the pre-Lenten season.  In both Germany and Austria, typical Mardi Gras fare includes rich pastries such as Berliner or Krapfen.  In northern Germany, these treats are called Pfannkuchen which actually means 'pancakes' (so England must be on to something....) but they're much like the pączki eaten for Mardi Gras in Poland, which would more accurately be called...doughnuts.

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is why Krispy Kreme Brownies are the perfect Fat Tuesday food! See, I told you we'd get there eventually!

Krispy Kreme Brownies

The recipe is simplicity itself.  Take a handful of glazed doughnuts (about 6 should do for a full batch of brownies), tear them into little pieces (1-inch chunks or smaller) and add to your favorite base brownie recipe.  Stir until just combined, pour into a greased pan and bake as your recipe directs.  That's all that stands between you and fudgy Fat Tuesday enjoyment.

For the brownies, I'd recommend a recipe with a little darkness and depth (think semisweet, dark or bitter chocolate) since the doughnuts are already so sweet.  I used milk chocolate and the brownies came out overly sugary - but they did taste just like milk chocolate eclairs so maybe that was a good choice!  I actually baked mine in a cupcake pan and only made two, since I was working with leftover batter, but I'm sure they'd be even better as regular sheet brownies (less crust = more fudgy, doughy happiness).

Given the ingredients, I think this recipe would be hard to screw up.  It's not for everyone - definitely not for those on a diet - but if you're adventurous or just want to give Fat Tuesday it's proper respect, these brownies are a good place to start!

As you can probably tell, I'm always fascinated by culinary tradition and the stories behind the things we eat.  Do you have any Mardi Gras traditions, food related or otherwise?

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  1. OMG you put donuts in the brownies???? You're awesome! These are amazing!

  2. You are a culinary genius! Krispy Kreme, I'm swooning (I live near a Dunkin Donuts, but still...:-)). I enjoyed everything about this post--it's wonderful.

  3. Good Morning Rachel,
    I am having my morning coffee and day dreaming about a Krispy Kreme, which would be a good 100 miles from me. I really enjoyed your post!
    Thank you so much for sharing with Full Plate Thursday. Hope you have a great week end and come back soon!
    Miz Helen

    1. Thanks. Miz Helen! Your comments are always so sweet - I hope you enjoyed your doughnut daydreams :)

  4. Fat Tuesday?! Ha! Love it. These look SO delicious! Must try!! Thanks for sharing at oopsey daisy!

  5. Wow! I think the kiddos in our youth group would really like this!!

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