Mardi Gras season is in full effect and the average South Louisianan will be 50 percent dough and glaze by this time next week (up from 10 percent normally). As a fan of the sportsball, I only understand things when they’re presented in Rankings or Standings format and, as such, have prepared for you the definitive Ranking of Types of King Cake by Deliciousness, which I’m sure everyone will agree with completely, calmly and rationally and which was not at all just an excuse to eat multiple kinds of King Cake, twice a day, for several days.
Thank you for agreeing.
1. Chocolate Related
For some reason, we only recently figured out that we could add Nutella to King Cakes, which is sort of shocking given the amount of King Cake innovation in recent years. Chocolate is also what makes a Zulu King Cake sing and, as it pairs perfectly with cinnamon, is a natural match for taking the classic King Cake to the level of I Have Stuffed Myself But Want More. (Ambrosia has a distinctive chocolate and coconut Zulu King Cake. Both Strands and Calandro’s have Nutella King Cakes in Baton Rouge, by the way.)
2. Cream Cheese
Typically paired with another filling, cream cheese adds a tart or slightly sour note to cut through the cloying sweetness that is King Cake. It also adds some much-needed moisture to overly dry cakes and helps fruit fillings from taking over and turning a cake into awful messes. (If you can’t find a cream cheese King Cake, you’re not trying and don’t deserve any.)
3. Caramel and Nut Related
More things should be caramel and nut-related, to be honest. The texture of pecans, the depth of a good caramel, maybe a nice praline layer? All good things when it comes to King Cake, which is only improved by having something hard and crunchy to contrast against the soft, spongey dough. (Strands has a delicious turtle King Cake and a praline one shouldn’t be hard to find, especially if you look at Ambrosia in Baton Rouge.)
A popsicle with actual pieces of King Cake in it? A King Cake made of donuts? This year a number of delicious alternative King Cakes delivered the traditional punch of a King Cake in a nontraditional format and, honestly, I’m here for it. Every King Cake doesn’t have to be a sweaty roll of dough coated in too much sweet glaze.
A donut is just a personal-sized King Cake, especially when filled with a light, creamy-yet-slightly-tart mousse from District Donuts. And a full King Cake can be made of donuts of all kinds, as evidenced by the Tiger Deauxnuts Franken-King Cake, which is a truly amazing-looking feat of four kinds of their signature donuts, in King Cake form.
And I was feeling comforted in all of the best ways when I dug into a gooey but somehow not too sweet King Cake pots au feu from Flambee Café, which is somehow better than the cinnamon roll on which it is based.
I’m not saying you have to eat a King Cake Hamburger (please don’t), but be open to new formats.
The French galette des rois (not to be confused with former Saint Galette des Junior) is best for when you want to show Mardi Gras that you’re fancy and extra and a touch bougie all at once. Rings of pastry surround a delicious tart-like filling and give you a chance to educate your guests on how cultured you are. (You can buy these at Strands in downtown Baton Rouge or, allegedly, purchase the Poupart’s ones from, like, actual Cajun county, at some places in Baton Rouge.)
I love fruit-filled desserts, but I don’t need your over processed grocery store apple pie guts oozing out of my King Cake, with that gross gel that surrounds bad pre-made filling. If you can make a King Cake full of fruit that has texture and even a hint of flavor that resembles the fruit it claims, give me a call. Until then, I’ll stay away, thanks
Hey, remember how everyone just had to have boudin King Cake a few years back? Let’s be honest, that was a cute gimmick, but basically sponsored by Prilosec. (Sure, the pitcher of mimosas I also drank with it didn’t help things on the acid reflux front.) Let’s remember boudin wrapped in dough with bacon drizzle as a trend we can leave in the past.
A touch of bacon and some maple glaze is nice, but any more meat than that is not a King Cake. Maybe a kolache? But King Cakes are sweet (like me) and attempts to wrest all of the sweetness from them disturb me greatly.
Sushi served in a circle? Is not a Sushi King Cake, it’s sushi served in a circle, and probably way overworked and difficult to eat. It’s like how Pinterest tries to call a pile of cookies covered in frosting “dessert nachos.” Um, slow your damn roll.
Like, what is even wrong with you people and your plain, unfilled King Cakes, which are basically just dry cinnamon rolls from a land that time forgot, with nary a gooey crevice in which a baby can hide. Devoid of creativity and beautiful thick filling, a plain King Cake makes me sad for all of the flavor that could have been.
A plain King Cake should only be purchased if 1) you don’t like the people you’re buying it for, 2) you’ve purchased 10 King Cakes already or 3) all of the better flavors have already been purchased and you don’t have time to go elsewhere for your King Cake.
In conclusion, some King Cake is better than other King Cake, but All King Cake is Good King Cake.