Laissez Les Bon Temps Rouler This Fat Tuesday With Paczki or King Cake

With a name like Fat Tuesday, you can’t expect to celebrate with rice cakes and veggies. Just a heads up that none of these recommendations are going to go into the healthy eating category.

Mardi Gras King Cake. Image via Design Crush

For many Christians, Ash Wednesday kicks off Lent, a period when people are expected to fast or give up certain indulgences until Easter. In case you fell asleep in French class, “laissez les bon temps rouler” translates literally to “let the good times roll” and Mardi Gras is “Fat Tuesday.” Though celebrations vary from country to country, one thing that’s universally popular is eating rich, fatty foods to celebrate (just in case the name wasn’t a hint). If you want something a bit more special than your normal rich, fatty indulgence, we’ve got two suggestions: king cake and paczki.

Borrowed from the French, king cake (galette du roi in French) is popular in New Orleans. In France, they’ve all but disappeared from stores and bakeries since they’re normally eaten around Christmas there, but in the US today is prime selling season.  Now normally there’s a plastic or porcelain figurine baked inside. Having tried a French version, and nearly losing a tooth in the process, may we strongly suggest the substitution of a gummy bear, jelly bean, or something slightly less likely to require an emergency trip to the dentist? If your local grocer isn’t in the spirit, or you want to make your own but just don’t have the time to master French pastries (or Americanized versions), here’s a quick recipe to try.


  • 3 (14 ounce) cans refrigerated sweet roll dough
  • 2 (12 fluid ounce) cans creamy vanilla ready-to-spread frosting
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 2 drops green food coloring
  • 2 drops yellow food coloring
  • 1 drop red food coloring
  • 1 drop blue food coloring
  • 1/2 cup multi-colored sprinkles


  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease a baking sheet.
  • Open the cans of sweet roll dough and unroll the dough from each can into 3 strands. Working on a clean surface, place 3 dough strands side by side and gather them together to make one large strand. Fold this in half, and roll slightly to make a fat log. Repeat steps with the remaining dough. Place each log on the prepared baking sheet and shape to make a ring, overlapping the ends and pinching them together to make a complete circle. Pat the dough into shape as necessary to make the ring even in size all the way around. Cover loosely with foil.
  • Bake in preheated oven until firm to the touch and golden brown, 50 to 60 minutes. Check often for doneness so the ring doesn’t overbake. Place on a wire rack and cool completely.
  • Place the cake ring on a serving plate. Cut a slit along the inside of the ring and insert a small plastic baby, pushing it far enough into the cake to be hidden from view.
  • Divide the frosting evenly between 4 bowls. Stir 1 tablespoon of milk into each bowl to thin the frosting. Use the frosting in one bowl to drizzle over the cooled cake. To the remaining three bowls of frosting, stir yellow food coloring into one and green into another. Stir the red and blue food colorings together with the frosting in a third bowl to make purple frosting. Drizzle the cake with yellow, green, and purple frostings in any desired pattern. Dust the cake with multi-colored sprinkles and decorate with beads, additional plastic babies, curly ribbon, and other festive trinkets.

{All Recipes}

Next up is  paczki. Although they look like jelly donuts, the dough is even more rich than that of your average, artery clogging bit of doughy goodness.

“In Poland, pÄ…czki are eaten especially on Fat Thursday (the last Thursday before Lent). Many Polish Americans celebrate PÄ…czki Day on Fat Tuesday (the day before Ash Wednesday). Traditionally, the reason for making pÄ…czki was to use up all the lard, sugar, eggs and fruit in the house, because they were forbidden to be consumed due to Catholic fasting practices during Lent.

In the large Polish community of Chicago, and other large cities across the Midwest, PÄ…czki Day is celebrated annually by immigrants and locals alike. In Buffalo, Toledo, Delta, Ohio, Cleveland, Detroit, Grand Rapids, Milwaukee, South Bend, and Windsor, PÄ…czki Day is more commonly celebrated on Fat Tuesday instead of Fat Thursday. Chicago celebrates the festival on both Fat Thursday and Fat Tuesday, due to its sizable Polish population.” {Wikipedia}

You’ve already missed Fat Thursday (we’re on it for next year), but many smaller bakeries in the Midwest have you covered today. If you want to make your own, has a recipe for a slightly modified version that substitutes vegetable oil for lard, and comes in at a somewhat respectable 329 calories per paczki.

You’ll probably need an extra shot of the rum or brandy included when you get a look at the cholesterol and fat numbers, but that’s probably not the worst way to get the good times rolling.

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