Why You Should Try This Mardi Gras Alternative To King Cake – Kringle

Why Stephanie, why would you look for anything besides King Cake for Mardi Gras? Well…the whole concept of Mardi Gras is to enjoy all the fatty, yummy foods you’re supposed to give up for Lent. But also, Mardi Gras is called different things in many parts of the world that observe Christian Lent.

In Anglican countries, Mardis Gras is known as Shrove Tuesday—from the word shrive meaning “confess”—or Pancake Day—after the breakfast food that symbolizes one final hearty meal of eggs, butter, milk and sugar before the fast. In Greece they call it Tsiknopempti (normally translated as Smelly Thursday, Charred Thursday, or Smoky Thursday) which centers on the consumption of large amounts of grilled and roasted meats. In Lithuania it’s called Užgavėnės, which means “the time before Lent”. In Poland it’s all about the pączki (filled donuts), so they call it Pączki Day. And then of course everyone knows Carnaval—you know, those festivals where everyone is dancing scantily clad in sequins, sparkles, and feathers, through downtown streets like New Orleans (USA), Venice (Italy), Rio de Janeiro (Brazil), and Puerto Rico)?

And on top of that, every country has their own interpretation of King Cake—from a log roll, to wreath shaped, and almost fruit cake like. Go down that rabbit hole through the search engines and it’ll blow your mind how differently King Cakes are made around the world.

So the real question is Why not try something besides King Cake?

What Is “Kringle”?

Kringle is a Scandinavian pastry, a Nordic variety of pretzel. Depending on what part of the world you’re in, kringles can come salty, sweet, or pastry-filled, but always in a ring or circle shape because that’s the meaning of the word kringle (ring or circle). If you’re wondering if there’s a connection with the Kringle in Kris Kringle (Santa)’s name, it does not. The translation to English should have been Kris Kindl or Kris Kinkl, you can read all about the origins of Kris Kringle on Wikipedia.

American kringles are made of hand-rolled Danish pastry dough, with many sheets of flaky dough layered, then shaped into an oval. After filling with fruit, nut, or other flavor combinations, the pastry is baked and iced. The kind of kringle we tried is from America’s most prominent purveyor of kringles: Racine Danish Kringles. They make kringles all year round and ship them all over the world. They also have so many varieties of kringles, it’s staggering.

FUN FACT: The kringle became the official state pastry of Wisconsin on June 30, 2013.

Where To Buy Kringle

Racine Danish Kringle

Racine, Wisconsin has historically been a center of Danish-American culture and kringle making, so it’s no wonder that a company like Racine Danish Kringle exists and is so successful. And it seems kringles are catching on. Now you can find Racine Danish Kringles at some Trader Joe’s, that’s how we discovered them.

Kristen’s Danish Bakery

But if you’re looking for kringles from someone more local, I’ve heard good things about Kristen’s Danish Bakery in Burr Ridge, which is around 15-17 miles north and slilghtly west of Tinley Park. Their kringle won the Kringle Kontest at Dana College in Blair, Nebraska in 2005. Price-wise Kristen’s kringles are less expensive ($14.95), but they are smaller and come in only 3 flavors. Racine Danish Kringles may be more expensive (around $21.95 on average) but their kringles are much larger in size (approximately 14 inches by 10 inches and weighing about 1.5 pounds) and they offer a huge variety of flavors (over 2 dozen varieties and growing).

Racine Danish Kringle Review

We ordered the almond filled Mardi Gras kringle flavor, and it is definitely our favorite. Beautifully decorated in green, gold and purple sanding sugar (the taditional Mardi Gras colors) over icing, you bite into the kringle and it’s like a danish only better. It’s so filled with almond filling, it reminds me of biting into a boston cream donut, subtle notes of vanilla and sweetness, and none of the usual grittiness of nuts. However they make their almond filling, it is divine.

FUN FACTS: Here are the meanings behind the traditional Mardi gras colors—Green stands for faith, gold represents power, and purple represents justice—qualities sure to bring you prosperity and happiness.

Inside your package you also get some Mardi gras beads, a mask (which our daughter calls “superheros”), and an informational card that tells you everything you need to know about Mardi Gras. And of course, you get a little plastic baby and some coins, all of which are traditional in King Cakes here in the USA. The presentation is great for families with little kids.

When To Order Kringle So It Arrives In Time For Mardi Gras

We didn’t want to order too early, but in order to ensure you get your Kringle fresh on the day of Mardi Gras, definitely try to order a little over 7 days before the actual day. I placed our order on Feb. 11, and it didn’t ship til Feb. 15 (which was the day right before Mardi Gras this year); major face palm moment. But it wasn’t a big deal that our kringle arrived 2 days after Mardi gras (Feb. 18), afterall there is such a thing as Fat Thursday. In a lot of ways, celebrating or enjoying something after most people do is better. While everyone already gorged themselves on their king cake or paczki, you are just getting started. It was absolutely lovely sailing into the weekend still with kringle to eat; so good!

But you don’t need a holiday to justify ordering something you enjoy. Kringles are like coffee cakes, danishes, donuts, etc.; they’re a pastry without limitations, meant to be enjoyed year round for any occassion.


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