French families have an Epiphany tradition to celebrate the Magi each January 6. Even non-religious families celebrate because they have such fond childhood memories and the galette, a covered almond tart or pie, is so good that they just can’t leave it only to the Christians.
I think you should adopt it too because your children will love the game (adults enjoy it too) and all your taste buds will rejoice. The recipe is easy and fast too if you don’t have a French bakery near you.
You’ll have to “draw a king.” After a fancy holiday dinner, everyone eats the Galette Des Rois (Mages). Inside the covered pie is a “feve” or a small ceramic figure or even just a fava bean or button. The figures are traditionally of the Baby Jesus, but can be of any of the nativity pieces, of a champagne bottle, a lucky clover, a horseshoe or anything symbolizing good luck for the New Year.
The mother or hostess cuts and serves the pie pieces while the youngest child gets under the table or simply closes his eyes to tell the server to whom each piece should go to without being able to peek at the little hidden figure.
When someone finds the figure, they are crowned King or Queen and everyone toasts to them with Champagne or non-alcoholic sparkling apple cider, and none will prevent you from drinking soda or milk if you prefer. Each time the King drinks everyone says “The King drinks!”
Then that person discretely places the figure in the glass of someone of the opposite sex so that the King has a Queen or vice versa. Everyone waits for the Queen to find her figure in her glass and when she drinks, everyone says “The Queen drinks!” The King and Queen wear their crowns all evening.
When children are participating, the mother strategically makes sure that one of the children gets the treasured figure. Should a parent accidentally become King, that parent should make a child the Queen (or King or Prince), NOT his spouse.
The game is rigged, but the gullible children have no idea and believe that each year they are just the luckiest kids in the whole wide world and it makes them quite happy and excited. It also boosts their self-esteem in a safe manner. You could crown all the children or even everyone present too.
When the game is played only among adults, it is often agreed upon that the King or Queen will host the Feast of the Magi the following year or bring next year’s galette or pie to the party, and everyone looks forward to more good times among good friends or family.
Whether children or adults, the King and the Queen are supposed to have good luck all year long!
You will need 2 crowns. Your children can easily make them out of paper and decorate them by drawing jewels or using stickers or gluing plastic jewels or sequins. It’s an easy and fun craft. Otherwise you can find crowns from the most basic paper to fancy gold plastic or even velvet ones at a party or costume store.
For the figure you can use a bean or a button. Be sure to warn everyone so there is no tragic chocking! If you decide to play each year, you can even buy tiny figures on-line like the ones in the photo or even outside France at some French bakeries. E-Bay also auctions them as they have become collectibles.
Here’s the recipe:
Galette Des Rois
For 4-6 people
- 2 circles of store-bought puff pastry
- 1 1/2 cup of powdered almonds
- 1 1/2 stick of butter (melted)
- 3 eggs
- 1 heaping cup of granulated sugar
- Natural flavoring to taste such as orange flower water, rose water, pure vanilla extract, rum, Amaretto or Grand Marnier
Mix the sugar, butter, 2 eggs, almonds and your chosen flavoring. Evenly spread the mixture on one of the puff pastry circles. Insert your “feve” or a button or bean, and cover with the second circle. Make a pleasant design on the top with the tip of a knife and paint with 1 egg yolk. Bake for about 25 minutes or until golden at 325-350 degrees F. depending on your oven.
It is best served warm. You can also serve at room temperature.
Bon Appetit and Bonne Fete Des Rois!!