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Happy Mardi Gras! Or, as we better know it, Fat Tuesday. Tomorrow, Lent will officially begin, meaning Christians will give up some kind of indulgence for 40 days until Easter Sunday. On our last day of gluttony, then, Mardi Gras is a perfect excuse to don our aprons and guiltlessly inhale all the sugar in sight. And the best way to do that is by baking king cakes.
King cakes are a Mardi Gras staple, though they start to appear in bake shop windows every year around Jan. 6, or the Epiphany (Three Kings Day) on the Christian calendar. From then until Fat Tuesday, though, you can have your fill of king cake. The New Orleans version that you're probably most familiar with is typically a cake twisted into a ring (to mimic the shape of a king's crown, a reference back to the Epiphany) and frosted with gold, green and purple frosting, which represents power, faith and justice, and covered in sprinkles.
There's also a tiny plastic baby figurine hidden in king cakes -- sometimes it's a different little trinket -- that allows whoever finds it to be "king" for the day. That person is also usually expected to host the celebrations the following year.
While you can always bake a traditional king cake, here are 16 other versions that should keep you occupied for the entirety of Fat Tuesday.