FeedithNOLA: Best King Cakes
Carnival. It’s the best time to be a New Orleanian. Beads dangle from the trees. Tutus become a part of the regular wardrobe rotation. Even our traffic jams are joyous. (I keep folding chairs and an extra boa in the trunk just in case we get blocked in by a random parade.) To add insult to injury to the people foolish enough to live outside of New Orleans, just as they settle down for a New-Years-resolution-dinner of egg whites, steamed vegetables, and quinoa, we are devoting an entire season to king cake.
Last month, I set out to find the best new king cake in town. In the process I learned a number of valuable lessons: 1. Putting a tiny toy baby in a cake is the best thing you could ever do for a baby-obsessed toddler. (Although be prepared for your kid to loudly proclaim that the baby has “poo poo” if your cake is filled with chocolate.) 2. Making your kid sit through a dozen “look don’t touch” king cake photo shoots is a really good way to practice delaying gratification. 3. There are some really, damn good king cakes out there.
The next time you get the king cake baby from your office break room, you’ll have options. After all, it’s a long king cake season. For those of you non-locals, you’re also in luck! Our two favorites ship nation-wide so you can enjoy a little piece of Mardi Gras whenever you are.
Overall Favorite: Bittersweet Confections
This is simply the most delicious king cake I’ve ever eaten, though it was so rich, I could only manage a small piece. This is an exercise in the best practice of king cake: The bright festive sugar on top gives it the satisfying crunch that Haydel’s loyalists crave, while the moist, buttery pastry will satisfy those craving the gooey Randazzo’s variety. Oh, and did I mention, they ship nation-wide. You’re welcome, America.
Edith’s Assessment: She had to keep brushing the excess sugar off her hands, but other than that it was all, “Mmmm yummy.” Bittersweet is also in walking distance from the Louisiana Children’s Museum, a big plus in her book.
Edith’s Favorite: Sucre
This king cake is a work of art with a beautiful sparkling glaze that’s reminiscent of that extra layer of glitter you find around the house weeks after Mardi Gras day. It’s a denser cake than most, and its Creole cream cheese filling gives it some nice local flair. With convenient locations near many parade routes (Uptown, French Quarter, and Metairie), this will be our go-to parade king cake moving forward. If you’re too far away to attend the parades, never fear! Sucre will also ship anywhere in the US.
Edith’s Assessment: The density of the cake makes this a lot less messy than most king cakes. Edith barely even needed a napkin. This created the optimal conditions for efficient shoving of cake into mouth.
- Boulangerie: This was a runner up for our overall favorite. Take everything from a standard king cake, make it 3x more delicious, and turn the baby into a porcelain pig, and you have it. Swing by Cochon Butcher for the infamous “Elvis,” king cake filled with peanut butter and banana, topped with bacon and marshmallow.
- Gracious Bakery: This lighter, chocolate filled king cake would be perfectly paired with your morning coffee. (Other people eat king cake for breakfast too, right?) With a new location at St. Charles and 6th, you may run into us before Iris in a couple weeks.
- Bakers Dozen: Fritter king cake. Enough said. This is an old school donut shop at it’s finest. The donuts are fresh and hot, the people are all smiles, and the aroma is intoxicating. It’s a little bit of a trek on Jefferson Highway near Ochsner, but this is our new post-doctor’s visit stop.
- District Donuts: Edith loved licking the frosting off her fingers. I loved the incredibly moist cake on this donut inspired king cake. They should carry this all year. King cake is really just a giant donut, right?
Change of Pace
- Willa Jean: This chocolate-espresso king cake is a departure from tradition, but I’m all for the untraditional. It’s as if the best chocolate croissant I’ve ever eaten had a love child with a king cake. The results are delicious. Edith only got the smallest of bites on account of the coffee, but she did make friends with Chef Kelly!
- Boulangerie: The galette de roise, French king cake, can serve as a nice change of pace during the long king cake season. With light, flaky pastry, and not-to-sweet almond paste, Edith and I were both excited about this one.
Kim Frusciante is an educator, Tulane alumna, and new mom who loves all things New Orleans. Though she wishes she could claim to be a native New Orleanian, she will happily settle for raising one instead. Kim is passionate about enjoying the culture of our city with her daughter, Edith, and helping others to do the same with their little ones. Let Edith be your test-baby: Email Kim at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Kim (well, Edith…) on Instagram @feedithnola.