Over the past several years I have formed a somewhat unhealthy addiction to king cake. It’s an affliction you can chalk up to loving “all things New Orleans,” but I think it also goes deeper than that. The mammoth brioche-like rolls heavily iced with purple, green and gold seem to embody this extraordinary time of year, a holiday that I have taken into my heart and held closer than Christmas, Easter and Halloween combined. It is a sugary-sweet representation of all that’s wondrous about New Orleans and the multitudes of variation only expound that fact. More than anything, king cake is about ritual, from waiting till January 6th for that first annual bite to the obligation one inevitably feels when the baby is discovered in their slice.
Twelfth Night, the official start of carnival (and king cake) season, is just around the corner and I shamefully admit that king cake has been on my mind. For the past several days, I’ve had an internal debate about which fabulous creation I want to eat first. Honestly, I’ve been driving John crazy!
Should I start the season off with a classic like this sublime gallette des rois I purchased from Gracious Bakery a couple of years ago? Those luscious layers of buttery puff pastry with almond cream are enough to make this fat girl sigh longingly for just one more slice.
Or perhaps I should hold out and see if Sucre will make another magical chocolate and gold king cake this year?
But I am always looking out for new, fanciful flavors like the Valrhona chocolate and caramel king cake Willa Jean made last year. This year’s flavor is Caramel Crunch with cream cheese frosting!
Or one of the many flavors Gracious Bakery puts out every year like a Meyer Lemon or this Nectar king cake.
The only thing I really know for sure is that I refuse to let a Mardi Gras slide by without a Chocolate King Cake from Bittersweet Confections.
The cakes I’ve mentioned only skim the surface of the bounty available every year. My mom (who will be coming all the way from the Bay Area to spend Mardi Gras with me this year) will most definitely want her favorite from Haydel’s, but what about Cake Cafe & Bakery’s goat cheese and apple? Cochon Butcher’s famous “Elvis” filled with peanut butter, banana and topped with house-cured bacon and marshmallow? The Cajun Bouille king cake from Bywater Bakery? Ahhhhrrrgghh!
I better make up my mind before Saturday. Which one would you choose?