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.
Change of Pace