January 6th is the Epiphany, the day the Three Kings or Three Wise Men finally made it to Bethlehem and gave their gifts to the new baby in the manger. Some of my friends celebrate it as a gift-giving day, which is nice because we have extra time after the holidays to finish gifts - or we can buy them at super after-holiday sale prices!
One of the traditional foods on this day is a Galette des Rois, which in most cases is a puff pastry case filled with either almond cream or a frangipane, which is almond cream lightened with pastry cream. La Petite France Bakery in West Hartford uses the latter in theirs, which range in size from 6" to 12".
Traditionally, each cake contains a charm. The person who finds the charm in his or her slice becomes the King or Queen of the day, and can use the second crown to select a co-ruler. La Petite France has quite a selection of charms that you will find in their cakes. Another tradition has it that whoever finds the charm will have to bring the cake next year.
I am going to a multiple-birthday party today and decided to make my own. For this reason, I adapted a tradition from British fruitcakes of having charms that indicate luck, good fortune, romance, and so on. I didn't think it would be right to have one person win the crowns when we have multiple birthday persons to celebrate!
The recipe I am using comes from Chocolate & Zucchini. I found almond meal at the grocery store, although if I couldn't find it I planned to use some pecan meal I have in the pantry and replace the orange flower water with bourbon. So mine will taste very traditional. I used a whole almond for the "fève" or charm, and will tell people that it means luck for the new year. Although if they like the cake, maybe I'll include the "bring the cake next year" part of the story!