I got the baby!"Whoever gets the cupcake with the plastic baby gets a year of good luck and the honor of bringing the cake next year. Some people have actually swallowed the plastic object to avoid the burden of throwing next year's party or buying the cake!
The traditional King Cake is round in shape like a donut with a hole in the middle. It is decorated with the traditional Mardi Gras colors of green, gold and purple. The tradition of placing a bean in the cake was a way of picking a mock King for the Mardi Gras event.
A King Cake is usually filled with sweet fruit or cheese. The cake is finished with Mardi Gras decorations like beads, masks, confetti, candy and other embellishments in the traditional holiday colors.
Dating back to the 12th century, the King Cake began in France. The cake would be made of the eve of January 6th to celebrate the visit by the Three Kings to the Baby Jesus. In the 18th century the King Cake was brought by the French when they settled in Louisiana, notably New Orleans. In the 19th century, the King Cake later became more elaborate and established as a Mardi Gras tradition.
The traditional cake has its roots in Northern France. An almond-paste-filled pastry puff cake filled with frangipane called "Gateau des Rois." However, the more popular King Cake is the southern France "Couronne" made with sweetened, egg-enriched brioche dough. The Couronne is decorated with coarse sugar crystals shaped in the form of red and green glazed stemmed cherries. The cake is topped with an apricot glaze. The New Orleans version of the French Couronne is made with cinnamon and decorated with green, purple and gold sprinkled and iced rather than glazed.
Originally, a fava bean was hidden inside the King Cake after it was baked. Whoever picked the slice of cake with the bean, which later became a small plastic baby was the benefactor of a year of good luck. However, some would call that act of good forune a mixed blessing. The so-called winner became obligated to throw the next year's party and/or bring next year's King Cake.