A Mardi Gras Twist on Classic Louisiana Beignets

Mardi Gras, the lively celebration in the heart of New Orleans, calls for a culinary experience that matches its vibrancy. Elevate your festivities with this exquisite Mardi Gras Beignets recipe from Louisiana Cookin– a symphony of golden-fried perfection filled with a decadent creaminess that will transport you straight to the lively streets of the French Quarter.


  • ½ cup warm water (105°F to 115°F)
  • 1½ teaspoons active dry yeast
  • 1 large egg, room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • ½ cup boiling water
  • ½ cup evaporated milk
  • ¼ cup plus 1 teaspoon granulated sugar, divided
  • 4¼ cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Vegetable oil, for frying
  • Cream Cheese Pastry Cream Filling (recipe follows)
  • Milk Glaze (recipe follows)
  • Garnish: purple, yellow, and green sparkling sugars

Beignet Directions:

  1. In a small bowl, stir together warm water, yeast, and 1 teaspoon granulated sugar. Let stand until foamy, about 5 minutes. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat boiling water, evaporated milk, melted butter, salt, vanilla, and remaining sugar until well combined. Add yeast mixture and egg, beat until combined. Beat in flour until well combined.
  2. Switch to the dough hook attachment. Beat at medium speed until the dough is smooth and soft, forming a ball at the base of the dough hook, about 6 to 7 minutes. Spray a large bowl with cooking spray. Place dough in the bowl, turning to grease the top. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or up to overnight.
  3. In a large Dutch oven, pour oil to a depth of 2 inches and heat over medium heat until a deep-fry thermometer registers 375°F. Divide dough in half. On a floured surface, roll half of the dough into a 13×10-inch rectangle(about ¼ inch thick). Trim edges to create a 12×9-inch rectangle. Cut into 3-inch squares, separating them.
  4. Place 2 to 3 squares in hot oil; fry until golden brown, about 1 minute per side. Remove from oil and let drain on paper towels. Repeat with remaining dough. Let cool completely.
  5. Spoon Cream Cheese Pastry Cream Filling into a pastry bag and cut a ¼-inch opening in the tip. Pipe filling into each beignet.
  6. To make the Milk Glaze, Milk Glaze, whisk together all ingredients in a small bowl until smooth, 2 to 4 minutes. Use immediately. Spoon Milk Glaze over beignets, garnish with sparkling sugars if desired.

Cream Cheese Pastry Cream Filling Directions:

Prepare the luscious cream cheese filling that will elevate your beignets to an unparalleled level of indulgence.

  1. In a medium bowl, whisk together sugar, cornstarch, and salt until well combined.
  2. Add egg yolks and ¼ cup milk, whisking until well combined.
  3. Heat ¾ cup milk in a saucepan until it just begins to boil. Gradually add hot milk to the sugar mixture, whisking constantly.
  4. Return the mixture to the saucepan and cook over medium heat, whisking frequently, until it starts to boil. Continue whisking until thickened, around 2 to 3 minutes.
  5. Remove from heat, strain through a fine-mesh sieve into a medium heatproof bowl.
  6. Stir in cream cheese, butter, and vanilla until completely combined.
  7. Cover with plastic wrap, pressing it directly onto the surface of the pastry cream to prevent a skin from forming.
  8. Refrigerate until completely cooled, at least 1 hour. Stir before using.

Serve and Enjoy with These Delightful Side Dishes: Fresh Fruit Salad, Mixed Berry Compote, or Whipped Cream and Chocolate Sauce. These Mardi Gras Beignets are a celebration on a plate, a fusion of crispy exterior and creamy indulgence that captures the essence of the lively carnival spirit. Elevate your Mardi Gras festivities with this iconic New Orleans treat and create unforgettable moments with each delightful bite.

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French Quarter’s Joan of Arc Parade Recently Kicked off Mardi Gras Season

In the heart of the lively French Quarter, the ‘sweet sixteenth’ Joan of Arc Mardi Gras parade unfolded with exuberance and grandeur on a memorable day in 2024, as per this article from nola.com. This cultural extravaganza, a dazzling twofer celebrating both the commencement of the traditional Carnival season and the birth of the revered medieval teenage warrior, Joan of Arc, enchanted the packed streets of New Orleans.

Originally gracing the streets in 2008, the Joan of Arc parade is a moving Renaissance festival, a tapestry of kings, queens, knights, shepherds, monks, saints, and maidens. The ambiance is an amalgamation of historical fervor and contemporary revelry. Joan herself, if transported through time, would likely revel in the abundance of religious allusions and nods to French patriotism, mirroring her own devotion to faithfulness and fealty.

The parade’s eclectic mix unfolded before the spectators like a vivid dream, featuring jugglers, stilt walkers, a giant flying dragon puppet, and the resonant tunes of droning bagpipers. Medieval entertainment, with its whimsy and flair, would have undoubtedly resonated with Joan, prompting her to sheathe her sword and join in the applause.

Among the festivities, there were moments that might have prompted a blush behind Joan’s helmet visor. Young women dressed as her in various life stages, a four-tiered birthday cake in her honor, and an array of banners and flags would surely have overwhelmed her with attention. However, the “Flaming Heretics” marching group and their distribution of books of matches might not have been to Joan’s liking, a reminder she certainly would have preferred to avoid.

The parade, a colorful spectacle, featured elements that straddled the line between history and whimsy. Fake rolling sheep, tiny bars of soap distributed to wash away sins, miniature cocktail swords meant for cherries rather than English soldiers—all these surrealistic components added a touch of absurdity to the proceedings. Meanwhile, The Penguins’ “Earth Angel” played from a boom box as a troupe of silvery angels strolled by, creating a delightful anachronistic juxtaposition.

Joan’s historical persona might not have embraced the overall vaguely disrespectful tone of the affair, yet within the Carnival context, this irreverence is not a rejection but an affectionate embrace. It’s a way for New Orleans to express both reverence for its French cultural roots and the joy of letting loose during Carnival. It’s a night when Joan can momentarily descend from her golden horse on Decatur Street and revel in the spirit of celebration. For those familiar with the parade’s traditions, notable changes marked the 2024 edition. The Krewe des Fleurs showcased their innovative lighted floral costumes inspired by the clematis blossom, symbolizing the ability to overcome obstacles and reach new heights—a fitting tribute to Joan’s indomitable spirit.

While the absence of the real horse ridden by “Warrior Joan” was noticed, the rolling imitation white horse proved charming. Marley Marsalis, embodying “Warrior Joan, AKA The Maid of Orleans,” captivated the crowd with or without her equine companion, showcasing the parade’s adaptability.

However, the parade wasn’t without its unexpected twists. An NOPD motorcycle, leading the procession, caught fire on Chartres Street, briefly scattering the crowd. Concerns for safety arose, but thankfully, it appeared that everyone emerged unscathed from the incident. In conclusion, the ‘sweet sixteenth’ Joan of Arc Mardi Gras parade left an indelible mark on the French Quarter, seamlessly blending history, tradition, and contemporary revelry. As the echoes of celebration lingered in the air, the spirit of Joan’s legacy thrived in the hearts of those who participated and witnessed this unique manifestation of New Orleans’ cultural tapestry.

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A Vermilionville Event Teaches the Community about Courir de Mardi Gras

A recent event held at Vermilionville taught guests and visitors about the tradition, history, and legacy of Louisiana’s Courir de Mardi Gras, as per this article from The Acadiana Advocate.

The event took place earlier in February as Louisiana communities were easing into the Mardi Gras season ahead of Valentine’s Day. On Sunday, February 12, a traditional Mardi Gras Run was held at Vermilionville, and it was open for the public to enjoy and for families to participate in an interactive and educational experience with admission prices going to Vermilionville. The event was presented by Vermilionville and the Basile Mardi Gras Association, and it featured an interactive Courir de Mardi Gras tradition led by Le Capitaine, who sang “ La Chanson de Mardi Gras,” as the costumed riders made their way through the historic village begging for ingredients to make a gumbo, as is the tradition.

Although a traditional Courir is held before or at dawn, this family-friendly event began at 10 am with a screening of Pat Mire’s “Dance for a Chicken,” a Mardi Grad documentary that reveals the historic secrets of the traditional, rural Mardi Gras run, which is also known as Courir de Mardi Gras. After the screening, musician Kevin Rees demonstrated the proper use of the “La Chanson de Mardi Gras” with the event’s attendees before the Basile Association began riding through the historic village, which ultimately ended with the infamous chicken chase. The event ended with attendees grabbing a delicious lunch at Vermillionville’s on-site restaurant and enjoying live music and dancing from Feu Follet.

Traditionally, Courir riders will consist of people disguised in colorful and festive costumes with a cone-shaped capuchon hat”, a mask made of screen, and a top and pants covered in strips of fringed fabric. These riders would mount horses and go from house to house to ask neighbors and community members for ingredients for a communal gumbo. The gumbo would then be cooked and eaten by everyone in town on Mardi Gras before the start of lent.

This self-contained version of a traditional, albeit  wilder event was designed by the Basile Mardi Gras Association andVermilionville officials to teach a new generation about the humble beginnings of a long-held Mardi Gras tradition. The holiday has become so ubiquitous in Louisiana with businesses, schools, and portions of the city being closed annually for the event, so it stands to believe that the origins of the holiday can sometimes be lost on a new generation. Luckily, the Basile Mardi Gras Association and the historic and educational Vermilionville can help to rectify that lack of knowledge.

The event was a success, thanks to the organizers at the Basile Mardi Gras Association and Vermilionville. Jim “Pecoq” Young, who is a member of the Basile Mardi Gras Association commented by saying, “we love it. We get people from all over Louisiana and even out of state. People come from all over to see the Mardi Gras. We’re thankful to Vermilionville for inviting us over here and letting us help them celebrate.” A full listing of their calendar of events can be found here.

Vermilionvile’s mission is to “increase appreciation for the history, culture, and natural resources of the Native Americans, Acadians, Creoles, and peoples of African descent in the Attakapas region through the end of the 1800s. Through historic interpretation and conservation along the Bayou Vermilion, we strive to educate guests on the interactions of these groups and the connections between past and contemporary folklife, thus empowering guests to apply these lessons from our shared histories.”

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Inaugural King Cake Festival in Downtown Thibodaux Had Large Turnout

Thibodaux’s inaugural Bayou King Cake Festival had a large turnout as thousands went out to crown the best king cake, according to this article from HoumaToday.

The inaugural Bayou King Cake Festival was held in Downtown Thibodaux at the beginning of February, serving as a festive beginning to the Mardi Gras season. The event, which was hosted by the Lafourche Education Foundation,served as a way for locals to sample and rank a diverse array of locally baked King Cakes, enjoy the Krewe of King Cake Children’s Parade, and listen to live music from Nonc Nu & the Wild Matous.

In total, 28 bakeries competed in the King Cake contest portion of the festival, where visitors voted Slidell’s Sugar Love Bakery the best-in-show. For the past eight years, Sugar Love Bakery has had a ship along Englewood Drive in Slidell, but before that owner and baker Sierra Zerangue ran the business out of her mother’s kitchen for the initial six years.

Sugar Love Bakery was a popular shop at the festival, as they were offering visitors small portions of their “King Cake on a Stick,” which according to Zerangue is the company’s invention along with “King Cake Charcuterie.” This nontraditional charcuterie offering came in the form of a king cake with cups of all the available fillings for dunking.

After Sugar Love Bakery received 183 votes, they were awarded first prize; to which Zerangue said, “it’s amazing, it means a lot to a bakery or any small business.” Second place went to Cut Off’s Cajun Pecan House with 182 votes, and Spahr’s Restaurant finished in third place.

Deanna Lafont is the Executive Director of the Lafourche Education Foundation, and she estimated that since they sold over 2,000 tickets to festival goers in advance, ticket sales along with preorders and scholarships had generated about $50,000 in funds for the Foundation, which will be going towards teacher grants, some festival overhead, and future events.

She went on to comment, “when we were setting the event up, we sold about 700 tickets almost two days before, so we were hoping to get 1,000 people. I think it was just the right time, the right place, the right event, and the right weather. I’m still in shock about how successful the event was.”

The festival had a larger turnout than initially expected; this was due to the fact that festival organizers occupied a section of downtown Thibodaux that’s usually used by Big Boy’s Main Street Cook-Off. Since that festival usually attracts about 1,000 people, Lafont admitted that they’ll need to try and “emulate the Fraternal Order of Police Mudbug Boil-Off because it is a larger event.” This will mean that next year’s event will occupy a larger section of downtown Thibodaux, centered along LA. 1 and Bayou Lafourche, which initially seemed unnecessary for an inaugural event.

Reportedly hundreds of festival goers had stood in line at the two entrances, filling up over two blocks waiting for their king cake samples. Due to the higher-than-expected turnout, many booths and shops were out of king cakes early on. For instance, the Culinary Department of the Lafourche Career Magnet Center saw Kalena Dehart and her coworkers down to seven king cakes from the dozen they brought to the festival within the first hour.

The event was kicked off officially at 1:30 pm with a parade of 15 children-toting wagons and five marching bands marching from the old Capital One building on West 2nd Street to St. Phillip Street and back. Next year, Lafont hopes to organize more events for the children festival goers outside of the parade, saying: “we had the children’s parade, but we’re really talking about having a kids’ area. I would love to see a kids’ king cake baking contest.”

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Footage of the 1898 Rex Parade is Believed to be Oldest Existing Footage

Recently, a two-minute film clip of the 1898 Rex parade was discovered and screened in New Orleans, and according to this article from Nola.com, it’s believed to be the oldest existing movie footage shot in New Orleans.

The film clip, which was discovered in a Dutch museum in March, was also screened at the Presbytère overlooking Jackson Square in June 2022 and followed by a lively discussion. After the event, the film was incorporated into the Presbytère museum’s show that celebrates the Rex organization’s 150th birthday, an exhibit that will be able to be viewed through December 11th. Wayne Phillips, the Louisiana State Museum’s curator of Carnival collections, revealed that the film might become part of the Presbytère’s permanent Mardi Gras exhibit. Wayne Phillips said, “it’s just too important to lay aside and not share with our visitors.”

The film footage of the 1898 Rex parade included 6 total floats, including one with a live ox, and the reported theme was “Harvest Queens.” The film itself was a project of American Mutoscope Co., an entity that sent crews across America to make movies about working-class people. For the film, Frank Armitage, one of the best cameramen for American Mutoscope, was sent to New Orleans to document the Rex parade, two Navy ships that were docked at the port, a crew loading a steamboat, a project called “Way Down South,” and archival footage of the New Orleans City Hall, then Gallier Hall. Armitage and his film crew left New Orleans to document the aftermath of the sinking of the USS Maine, which had blown up in the harbor of Havana, Cuba on February 15, 1898, a week before that year’s Mardi Gras.

According to Will French, the Rex organization’s historian and archivist, Frank Armitage was located at Gallier Hall during the filming. He had looked down St. Charles Avenue toward Poydras Street for the footage. The Dutch Museum exported the film into a crisp, digitized, high-definition version, which (according to French) is so rich with detail that it’s like an active hunt for “100 little Easter eggs,” as each new viewing reveals a new aspect of not only the city of New Orleans but Mardi Gras traditions.

Some of these details include that all the attendants and bystanders of the Rex parade are standing still, which is much different from the jubilant, chaotic crowds of present-day Mardi Gras parades. Additionally, there is no visible police presence in the clip as well as no beads, objects, or anything else being thrown from the floats. According to Wayne Phillips, “we think that Rex started throwing in 1920, in the first parade after World War I. We know there were occasional opportunities during parades when trinkets might be tossed from one person to another, but it wasn’t anything that people expected.”

The rumor of the film’s existence had long-plagued Mardi Gras fans and specifically the Rex organization and its historian and archivist Will French. French was the person who formally requested the film’s footage be found by Mackenzie Roberts Beasley, an audiovisual researcher. French is a corporate lawyer who is involved in financing film production, and he revealed that wanted to find the footage so that he could build the krewe’s video holdings. Mackenzie Roberts Beasley was able to track down the film, which was located at the Eye Filmmuseum in Amsterdam.

Charles A. Farwell had reigned 124 years ago as Rex, the king of Carnival, and he is present in Armitage’s footage of the 1898 parade. Because of the retrieval and screening of the footage, Farwell’s granddaughter, Lynne Farwell White was able to see one-of-a-kind footage of her grandfather, who had passed away 26 years before she was born, in 1917. After donating a sword that had been a part of Farwell’s Rex costume to the krewe’s archive, White commented on the discovery by saying, “I got a chance for the first time in my life to see my grandfather alive and as a real person. That is very special!”

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New Krewe Parades through Golden Meadow for Mardi Gras

After a harrowing year along the Louisiana Gulf Coast, one community banded together to raise the spirits of Golden Meadow, Louisiana, and they are accomplishing this by forming an impromptu Mardi Gras Krewe, according to HoumaToday.

The Krewe des Couyons, which is made up of residents from Golden Meadow, aimed to make up for both the 30 canceled Mardi Gras parades in Lafourche and Terrebonne Parishes last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic and those canceled thanks to damage sustained by Hurricane Ida.

They set out to “make things right” with a call to arms so to speak. Krewe leader Kyle Williams organized a convoy of roughly a couple dozen homemade parade floats with about 150 operating them and participating in the festivities. To say that The Krewe des Couyons floats are clearly crafted by a community that had gone a year without Mardi Gras would be an understatement.

As per the Golden Meadow Krewe des Couyons Facebook page, which invited the public to join in the festivities this year, the “newly-founded” Mardi Gras club set out early on with self-awareness. They posted that their krewe will be riding in “homemade floats, golf carts, side-by-sides, and just about anything else you can imagine.” That succinct, yet poignant description emits the exact type of positive spirit needed in South Louisiana after the past few years.

After Hurricane Ida, the Category 4 storm that swept across the Gulf Coast but first came ashore at Port Fourchon on August 29, 2021, many traditional Mardi Gras Krewes found that their floats were damaged or destroyed along with countless homes and businesses. Not only did this cause mountains of dismay for the residents and their families, but citizens of Lafourche Parish knew that they wouldn’t be able to relieve some stress with a traditional Mardi Gras celebration some six months following the storm. That’s just when Krewe Organizer Kyle Williams went to work.

Williams said, “with COVID last year and now Ida this year, canceling again is not an option. Our community needs a pick-me-up to get their minds off of Ida damage. We need to take steps toward getting back to normal. We’re making our own floats. We’re riding in the backs of trucks, and we’re just making do with what we got.”

On Fat Tuesday, the day of Mardi Gras, The Krewe des Couyons floats will make their way down La. 1 at noon in float types ranging from golf carts to tractors. They will pass through Golden Meadow on a route that would traditionally be traveled by the Krewes of Neptune and Nereid in a normal year.

This year, however, several parades were canceled across Lafourche and Terrebonne Parishes due to sustained damages from Hurricane Ida. Parades that would traditionally run in Lafourche and Terrebonne Parishes but had to cancel were Athena, Des Petite Lions, Nereids, and Neptune in Golden Meadow; Des T. Cajuns and  Bon Temps in Larose; and Tee Caillou in Chauvin.

A Spokeswoman for La Krewe du Bon Temps in Larose, Corine Berthelot, remarked on both the sadness at having to cancel parade-going this Festival season and the hope for parades to return in 2023. She told HoumaToday, “this year, there’s so much devastation here that there’s no way that anybody’s going to be able to ride. We’re just going to pray and keep our fingers crossed that the following year we can ride.”

What came as a result of the new Golden Meadow Krewe’s immaculate planning and a bruised community banding together will be a parade maybe not quite as grand and large-scale as it has been in previous years, but one that will perhaps be more meaningful and symbolic than those that came before it.

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