If you’re in New Orleans this time of year, you’re most likely gearing up to watch the Mardi Gras parade, readying your catching arm for beads, and hoping you will be lucky enough to find a plastic toy baked into your dessert. Wait, what?! Let us explain.
With its roots in Catholicism, Mardi Gras season begins on January 6, the date Catholics believe the Kings brought gifts to the infant Jesus, and "king cakes" take over the city’s tables for the season. Decorated purple, green, and gold (for justice, faith, and power) and baked into a crown shape, these delicious cakes hide a thimble-sized plastic baby inside. If your slice has the baby, get excited! You are now king for the day and the next party’s host.
In accordance with the indulgent season, king cakes are sugary and ornate in the very best way. The texture inside resembles that of a bready, cinnamon pastry, and don’t be surprised to taste a bit of decadent cream cheese in there too. De-lish.
Not in New Orleans? Don't feel left out! You can actually get a king cake delivered right to your door. The two pictured here are from longtime favorite king cakers Manny Randazzo and the newer-on-the-scene Sucré. Both deliver the goods as well as the cake. Just make sure to order before the season ends on Fat Tuesday (this year, it's March 4)–the last day of indulgence before Lent.