Sugar and Spice
King Cakes that are worth the calories
We are in the home stretch – there are less than two weeks left of acceptable King Cake eating. During this long Carnival season, I have at some point eaten King Cake for every meal, snacks in between and as a late-night absorber of booze after Krewe du Vieux. I’m dreading my next dentist appointment and the likely cavity I’ll need drilled and filled.
The uptick in interesting flavors is really doing damage to my waistline. Usually at this point in the season, I can politely decline an offer of King Cake and walk away without FOMO (fear of missing out). Then a coworker turns up with a chantilly version and I. Must. Eat. It.
Before the clock runs out and the hangovers and introspection of Ash Wednesday are upon us, here is a list of the King Cakes that will please the crowds on both the neutral ground and sidewalk side.
I wasn’t kidding about a chantilly version breaking my willpower. The Bywater Bakery excels at creative flavors and their flaky King Cake filled with strawberry chantilly cream made my eyes open wide in wonder. They also take the lead on offering both sweet and savory flavor options. I haven’t tried either yet, but I’ve heard rumors their crawfish and their boudin King Cakes are worth the confusion and the calories.
Caluda’s has a rotating weekly menu of special flavors that keeps that feeling of excitement going through a long Carnival season. One of my favorite non-traditional flavors is their Bananas Foster, which sadly came and went in January. This week, however, is my runner-up favorite of theirs, the cherry almond King Cake.
The traditionalists might not be aware of this flavor or even care, but New Orleans Cake Café makes a goat cheese and apple king cake that I don’t want to like, yet can never resist. It strikes a balance between sweet and savory and is delightful with champagne.
The cinnamon in the light dough of these traditional King Cakes sings. This is one of the more dangerous King Cakes because it is too easy to eat more than one slice. If you really want to amp up your sweets game, order a pecan delight cookie too.
The New Orleans Center for Creative Arts (NOCCA) teaches its students how to make one of the stand-out King Cakes in town and the proceeds go back to the school. Their French-style cake is a puff pastry rectangle filled with satsuma and almond paste. It’s flakey and subtle, and it is absolutely wonderful with a cup of Earl Grey tea. This year the cakes are only being sold by Langenstein’s, Dorignac’s and King Cake Hub.
The celebrated and James Beard Award-winning bakery’s King Cake is worth standing in line to obtain. The cream cheese frosting hits all the right notes without overpowering. A new taste sensation I enjoyed this year from Dong Phuong was their coconut king cake. It had flaked coconut throughout the dough, giving little al dente surprises with every bite.