Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Krispy Kreme Brownies for Mardi Gras!

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 (c'mon, how many of you actually own a string of Mardi Gras beads?) 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.....

In Spain and Spanish America, the King Cake is called roscón or rosca 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!

Lent or otherwise, Matt and I don't usually buy doughnuts, but we were left with a few after church on Sunday and, as I wracked my brains for something to do with them, besides just eat them, I remembered some leftover brownie batter in the freezer (from a recipe that will be revealed soon!).  Naturally, the only answer was to make these separate ingredients even more unhealthy by combining them and creating the pinnacle of fatty and indulgent perfection - a living embodiment of all that Mardi Gras represents.

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?

This post is linked at:
33 Shades of Green: Tasty Tuesdays
Alli n' Son: Sweet Tooth Friday
Sweet as Sugar Cookies: Sweets for a Saturday
Diana Rambles: Thematic Thursday


  1. Definitely over the top, but I'd love to try them!

  2. Wow- you make this recipe with DONUTS! KK DONUTS!!! OMG!

    Visiting from Sweet Tooth Friday! Stop by and see my Strawberry Shortcake @ cookscleansplayswithpaper.blogspot.com

  3. When I saw the title of your treat I just had to come and check these out. This is one super over the top brownie recipe. You should send this to Paula Deen. Sounds just like something she'd make.

  4. Thanks for stopping by my blog.
    Wow, you aren't kidding. Super Fat Tuesday recipe!

  5. Wow, those are some brownies!

  6. Wow. I think my husband would love these. He must have been the first one in line for the Krispy Kreme cheeseburger they had at our State Fair this year!

  7. What, what a great idea!

    Thanks for stopping by and linking up with Sweet Tooth Friday.

  8. These sound good! I would probably have to start out with extra doughnuts for snacking while I cut them into pieces :)

  9. these look heavenly... bookmarked!

  10. Thanks, everyone, for your enthusiastic comments! And thanks to Allison and Lisa for hosting these great blog hops - I've found so many recipes I want to try :)

    Abby - you can be sure I had a sneaky bite or two before the brownies were finished!

    Robin - the Krispy Kreme cheeseburger sounds intense, but yes these were definitely husband approved :)

  11. Well, the people have spoken. Your Krispy Kreme brownies made the Top 5 for last week's Sweets for a Saturday (that's out of nearly 290 entries). Great job!

  12. Fabulous idea! I can't wait to make some.

  13. oh me oh my I have to try this recipe. how easy.

  14. Wow. I mean Wow. What a clever idea!! I love it!!

  15. Oh my gosh! Krispy Kreme's in there??!! Pure heaven. I can't wait to try this. We have a Krispy Kreme about an hour away. Totally worth the drive! =o) Thanks!

  16. I would like to invite you to join in on a RECIPE LINK PARTY on my blog!

    "Made it on Monday" is a WEEKLY recipe link. You can submit recipes Wed-Sat. every week or as often as you want. There will be prizes often :)

    I hope to see your recipes soon.

    *I am your newest follower!*

  17. WOW! These look amazing!! Thanks so much for linking up at Thematic Thursday!