Keep it sweet for Mardi Gras

Before you set out to binge on Abita beer, beads and boobs, take a moment to consider the other side of Carnaval-sweets.

Also known as Shrove Tuesday, Mardi Gras—which falls on February 24 this year—immediately comes before Lent, the Christian fasting period that precedes Easter. Though we associate the fete with hard-core partying, many countries have an established tradition of pre-Lent baking that’s designed to use up the ingredients verboten during the period of doing without (often eggs, sugar and milk). Here are some fine examples we found right here in New York (N.B.: They all make a fine morning-after breakfast, too).

These jelly-filled yeast doughnuts are known as krapfen in Southern Germany and in Austria, but Germanic peoples in Sweden and Alsace know them as fastnachtskchelchen. (So much for German efficiency.) Krapfen are plentiful in these regions leading up to Lent, and especially on Fat Tuesday. Apricot is a traditional filling, and the jam of choice for Blaue Gans (139 Duane St between Church St and West Broadway, 212-571-8880) pastry chef Matthew Lodes (he also works the sweet beat at Cafe Sabarsky and Wallse). His pillowy krapfen are served year-round during brunch ($2.50 each; Sat, Sun 9am--4pm).
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