French Quarter Cake Walk
Living in the French Quarter has its royal advantages, and this time of year many local restaurants hold court for king cake within walking distance from one another.
Businesses are getting creative with this annual Carnival confection and are featuring it in menus, on cake stands, in store windows and display cases all over the Vieux Carré. Amid an explosion of purple, green and gold, these sweet diversions share a kingly kinship, yet many take liberties with this imperial treat and offer variations on the theme.
• Cafe Fleur de Lis’ King Cake French Toast
307 Chartres St.
Open for breakfast and lunch, Cafe Fleur de Lis exults in its Southern cooking expertise. This time of year, in addition to serving Creole country breakfasts and seafood benedicts, the Cafe offers a King Cake French Toast platter for a limited time.
“Once it hits our menu, we can’t keep it in the store,” said David Williams, who works at the Cafe. “Nobody can beat our French Toast, but the King Cake French Toast is special.”
Made with an egg and milk batter, whipped cream and colored sugars, the Cafe’s King Cake French Toast starts hitting plates this week and can be ordered through Mardi Gras.
*Cafe Fleur de Lis’ limited time only King Cake French Toast / Photo Credit: Cafe Fleur de Lis
• CC's Coffee House’s King Cake Lattes, King Cake Mochasippis
941 Royal St.
CC’s is an outpost for Gambino’s Bakery’s traditional, cream cheese filled and pecan praline filled king cakes at its six New Orleans and Metairie locations, and during Carnival the coffee house also pours limited time Mardi Gras beverages including King Cake Lattes and King Cake Mochasippis made with brown sugar, cinnamon, caramel and smooth, rich espresso added to CC’s Mochasippi mix.
CC’s also serves Fat Tuesday Mochasippis and Mardi Gras Mambo Lattes and Mochasippis.
*CC’s King Cake inspired coffee drink / Photo Credit: CC’s Coffee House
• Le Croissant d’Or Patisserie’s King Cakes, Galette Des Rois
617 Ursulines Ave.
Le Croissant d’Or Patisserie serves sandwiches, quiches, soup du jours, cakes and French pastries made fresh and served daily. In addition to selling a traditional king cake with a plastic baby inside, the French style bakery also unmasks a Galette des Rois through Mardi Gras. It’s a crispy puff pastry filled with almond paste, and the cakes showcase fèves, collectable ceramic pieces, inside for an extra cost. Don’t expect to see purple, green and gold embellishments on the Galette. Instead you’ll savor its regal, high gloss polish crowned with a delicate, refined rosette design.
• French Truck Coffee’s Big Chief Ya Ya Mardi Gras Blend
217 Chartres St.
King cake may not have been the primary influence for French Truck Coffee’s Big Chief Ya Ya Mardi Gras Blend, but it does boast familiar lemon and fruity tasting notes, culminating in a well-rounded, creamy cup of coffee.
“This is our second year to offer Big Chief Ya Ya, and it’s only available during Carnival season, so it’s pretty special,” said Geoffrey Meeker, French Truck Coffee’s owner. “I suggest getting it early since Mardi Gras season is very short this year.”
French Truck Coffee will donate $1 of every 12 oz. bag of Big Chief Ya Ya sold to House of Dance and Feathers, an organization dedicated to preserving the cultural heritage of New Orleans that also operates a free museum in the Lower Ninth Ward at 1317 Tupelo St.
All French Truck Coffee locations will serve drinks in specialty to-go cups before, during and after parades throughout the Mardi Gras season.
*French Truck Coffee’s Big Chief Ya Ya Mardi Gras Blend / Photo Credit: French Truck Coffee
• The Crepe Cart’s King Cake Crepes
The French Market, 1100 N. Peters St., Bay 23
This creperie on wheels specializes in preparing authentic French street food, that’s sweet and savory with gluten free and vegan batter options.
The pop-up kitchen/ crepe cart handles orders ranging from bacon and Nutella to caprese crepes with broccoli and pesto.
But for the next few weeks, you can ask one of the Crepe Cart chefs to spin a king cake crepe with coconut cream, cinnamon, brown sugar, butter and sprinkles.
“It’s one of our most popular items,” said Samantha Saliter, Crepe Cart’s owner and manager, “especially because customers know there are vegan and gluten free options.”
*The Crepe Cart’s King Cake Crepe’s colorful ingredients / Photo Credit: The Crepe Cart
• Loretta’s Authentic Pralines’ Praline Kings Cakes, Praline King Cake Cookies
The French Market, 1100 N. Peters St., Bay 9
You can find four kinds of king cakes at Loretta’s including apple, cherry, lemon and praline cream cheese filled. Loretta, who said she’s the first African American woman to own and operate her own praline company in New Orleans, has been in business for more than 35 years. In celebration of the city’s 2018 Tricentennial, she’s selling her small praline cream cheese filled king cakes for $20.18.
As lagniappe, Loretta’s also sells Mardi Gras praline king cake cookies made with praline cookie mix all year long.
*Loretta’s Authentic Pralines’ Praline Kings Cakes offer four different fillings. / Photo Credit: Loretta’s Authentic Pralines
• NOLA Restaurant’s King Cake Bread Pudding
534 St. Louis St.
Chef and restaurateur Emeril Lagasse’s recently renovated, three-story casual eatery NOLA Restaurant is located in the heart of the French Quarter and serves up one of the most sought after king cake inspired delights, a king cake bread pudding with blackberry compote and Creole cream cheese ice cream.
Try making it at home, with a lemon goat cheese ice cream twist, with this recipe courtesy of Chef Amy Lemon and Chef Emeril Lagasse:
For the king cake:
• 1 pound white bread, such as Pullman loaf or French, cut into 1-inch cubes
• 8 large eggs
• ¾ cup granulated sugar
• 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
• 1 tablespoon cinnamon
• ½ teaspoon salt
• 5 cups plus ¼ cup whole milk
• 4 tablespoons melted unsalted butter
• 2 ¼ cups confectioners sugar
• 1 tablespoon lemon juice
• Purple, green and gold sanding sugar, for decorating
• Blackberry compote, for serving, optional
• Lemon goat cheese ice cream, for serving, optional, or store-bought vanilla ice cream
For the blackberry compote:
• 3 pints blackberries
• ½ cup sugar
• 1 tablespoon cornstarch
• ½ lemon, juiced and zested
• ½ vanilla bean, halved lengthwise
For the lemon goat cheese ice cream:
• 3 cups whole milk
• 1 1/3 cups sugar
• Finely grated zest of 1 lemon
• 7 large egg yolks
• 1 pound soft, mild goat cheese, crumbled at room temperature
For the king cake:
• Place the bread in a large mixing bowl.
• In a separate mixing bowl, combine the eggs, sugar, vanilla, cinnamon and salt and whisk until thickened and smooth. Whisk in 5 cups of the milk, then pour the egg mixture over the bread cubes and allow to sit for about 15 minutes.
• Preheat the oven to 350°F.
• Brush a 9- by 13-inch baking dish with some of the melted butter, coating well on all sides, then gently stir the remaining melted butter into the bread mixture. Spoon the bread mixture into the buttered pan and transfer to the oven. Bake until the center of the bread pudding is set and the top is golden brown, 55 to 60 minutes. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool for at least 15 minutes.
• While the bread pudding is cooling, combine the confectioners sugar, remaining 1/4 cup milk and the lemon juice in a small bowl and stir until smooth. After the pudding has cooled for 15 minutes, pour the sugar glaze evenly over the top, then decorate with the colored sanding sugar as desired.
• When ready to serve, place a portion of the bread pudding on a plate and garnish with the blackberry compote and the lemon goat Cheese ice cream.
For the blackberry compote:
• In a large saucepan combine two pints of the blackberries and the remaining ingredients. Bring to a simmer over medium heat and continue to cook, stirring frequently, until the berries have released their juices and the mixture has thickened. Remove from the heat and stir in the remaining blackberries. Set aside to cool.
For the lemon goat cheese ice cream:
• Prepare an ice bath in a large bowl and place another slightly smaller heatproof bowl on top.
• Combine the milk, sugar and lemon zest in a large saucepan and bring just to a boil.
• In a heatproof mixing bowl, whisk the egg yolks until smooth, then whisk in some of the hot milk mixture, little by little, to temper the yolks. Whisk the yolk-milk mixture into the hot milk remaining in the saucepan and continue to cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon. Remove from the heat immediately and strain through a fine mesh sieve into the bowl set over the ice bath. Whisk in the goat cheese until smooth, then allow to cool to room temperature. Chill the mixture thoroughly, then process in an ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s directions.
• Makes about 1 quart and serves 12
*NOLA Restaurant’s king cake bread pudding / Photo Credit: NOLA Restaurant
• The Pelican Club’s King Cake Coolada
312 Exchange Pl.
As coveted as an invitation to a secret society Mardi Gras ball, The Pelican Club’s King Cake Coolada is mixed upon request at the award-winning restaurant that’s housed within a 19th century Creole townhouse in one of the French Quarter’s most picturesque alleyways tucked between Chartres and Royal Streets, between Bienville and Conti Streets.
Bartender Branimir “Franco” Alexandrov said this exclusive Carnival cocktail concoction contains Stoli vanilla, crème de banana, crème de cacao, a splash of Frangelica and cassis liqueur.
• Petite Amelie’s King Cake Donuts
900 Royal St.
Petite Amelie sits in the shadow of Cafe Amelie, but the “cuisine rapide” café that specializes in takeaway and gourmet picnic-style fare, takes center stage during Mardi Gras with its king cake donut.
Found amidst the fresh salads and sandwiches, freshly prepared sides and entrees, is this seasonal dessert that’s plump, round and covered with king cake frosting. Since the small donut has no real estate to spare, you won’t find a plastic baby in this king cake clone.
*Petite Amelie’s King Cake donuts are covered in frosting / Photo Credit: Petite Amelie
• PJ’s Coffee’s King Cake Coffee Drinks
DoubleTree Hotel – 300 Canal St.
622 Canal St.
The Royal Sonesta New Orleans Hotel – 300 Bourbon St.
501 Decatur St.
630 Chartres St.
PJ’s Coffee’s new Skinny King Cake Protein Velvet Ice, along with cinnamon and vanilla flavored king cake lattes, coffees and cold brews, will be available at all PJ’s locations through the end of February.
PJ’s reps said the Skinny King Cake Protein Velvet Ice features high-quality ingredients of homemade, ultra-low-calorie PJ's Original Cold Brew concentrate, fat-free milk, and EAS whey protein concentrate, all blended to velvety smooth perfection. A 16 oz. Skinny King Cake Protein Velvet Ice beverage also meets the Ochsner Eat Fit guidelines, containing 21 grams of protein and less than one teaspoon of added sugar.
“Mardi Gras is a time of community celebration for New Orleans residents and visitors,” said Reid Nolte, PJ’s Coffee’s director of marketing. “At PJ’s, we love the communal spirit of the holiday, and think there’s no better way to celebrate than with a cup of king cake-flavored coffee.”
*PJ’s Coffee’s flight of King Cake coffees / Photo Credit: PJ’s Coffee
• Rouses’ King Cakes, Brioche King Cakes
701 Royal St.
Rouses’ reps said they bake and sell more sugar-dusted purple, green and gold king cakes than any other bakery on the Gulf Coast. The family-owned supermarket chain is one of the largest independent grocers in the United States, and it bakes more than half a million king cakes annually. They come in a traditional version and with multiple fillings including: apple, apple cream cheese, Bavarian, banana, blueberry, blueberry cream cheese, cherry, chocolate, cream cheese, lemon, pineapple, praline, praline cream cheese, raspberry cream cheese, strawberry and strawberry cream cheese.
Rouses is also featuring a Brioche King Cake made with sweet brioche dough and no cinnamon. The new Brioche King Cakes feature the same selection of fillings as the ones listed above.
*Rouses’ King Cake and Brioche King Cake / Photo Credit: Rouses
• Royal Sonesta New Orleans’ King Cakes
300 Bourbon St.
Royal Sonesta New Orleans’ award-winning executive pastry chef Jacquelyn “Jackie” Lopez is serving up two decadent limited edition king cakes at the PJ’s Coffee Cafe located inside the hotel.
The traditional and the signature bourbon caramel apple flavored king cakes will only be served through Mardi Gas, Tuesday, Feb. 13.
Slices of the divine delicacies are sure to be as in demand as a Zulu coconut during the hotel’s 48th annual Greasing of the Poles on Friday, Feb. 9, that celebrates the annual ritual of greasing the building’s support poles as a practical means to deter overzealous revelers from shimmying up to the coveted balcony spaces.
This year’s theme, “Cheers to 300 Years,” is inspired by the city’s Tricentennial and iconic celebratory global champagne house of Moët & Chandon.
Actor, author and tastemaker Bryan Batt will serve as master of ceremonies at the free and open to the public 10:00 a.m. event.
*Royal Sonesta New Orleans’ traditional and bourbon caramel apple flavored king cakes / Photo Credit: Royal Sonesta New Orleans
• SoBou’s King Cake Sua Da
310 Chartres St.
SoBou, a spirited restaurant located south of Bourbon Street, specializes in serving Louisiana street food inspired small plates. During Mardi Gras, watch out for the King Cake Sua Da that bartender Michael Nuss says is “an early day Mardi Gras revelry pick-me-up, boozy coffee drink.”
Inspired by Vietnamese iced coffee, the King Cake Sua Da is spiked and contains:
• 2 oz. Espresso
• 1 ½ oz. King Cake infused brandy
• 1 oz. sweetened condensed milk
• 1 drop vanilla
• A dash of Angostura bitters
• A dash of Allspice Dram
“The brandy gives it that king cake cinnamon roll quality,” Nuss said. “Drinking it is like drinking a king cake coffee. We serve it with Mardi Gras colored sprinkles on the glass and a king cake baby.”
• Sucré’s King Cakes, Gateau d’Or Chocolate King Cakes
622 Conti St.
Sucré’s king cakes are award winners and have been lauded in publications from Garden & Gun to The Times-Picayune, Saveur Magazine to The Washington Post.
Sucré’s secret weapon seems to be its signature buttery danish pastry that’s sweetened by cinnamon and raw cane sugar and then baked with a light layer of Creole cream cheese.
Its limited edition Gateau d’Or Chocolate king cake is sold on a first come, first served basis as customers clamor for this buttery danish filled with rich, dark chocolate pastry cream studded with Swiss caramel milk chocolate chunks and finished with caramel.
*Sucré’s King Cake and Gateau d’Or Chocolate King Cake / Photo Credit: Sucré
This just in…
• The Bombay Club, 830 Conti St., is offering a Bombay King Cake for two that’s filled with bacon jam and cinnamon, and topped with candied bacon.
• Broussard’s, 819 Conti St., king cake features a cinnamon brioche with foie gras and apple.
*Photo credit: Broussard's
• Curio’s, 301 Royal St., lemon and chocolate filled king cakes are sweetened with crème fraîche.
*Photo credit: Curio
• Kingfish Kitchen and Cocktails, 337 Chartres St., is serving a Louisiana sweet potato king cake with a pecan praline filling.
*Photo Credit: Kingfish Kitchen and Cocktails