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A Fork in the Road  

All Hail the King Cake

Celebrate Carnival season with a sweet treat from
Manny Randazzo King Cakes.

Nothing kicks off Carnival season better than a freshly baked king cake, traditionally eaten in New Orleans from Jan. 6 (the end of the Twelve Days of Christmas) to Mardi Gras or Fat Tuesday, the day before the start of Lent.

Bathhouse Row

A slice of king cake laced with cinnamon is a sweet treat for Carnival parties. Courtesy of Manny Randazzo King Cakes

You’ll be hard pressed to find a better king cake than those offered by Manny Randazzo, whose family has been baking the Mardi Gras staple for more than 50 years. The bakery – Manny Randazzo King Cakes – is located in Metairie, La., and is open only during the Carnival season, as well as for Valentine’s Day and two weeks prior to Christmas. Other specialty cakes can be ordered online for Thanksgiving, Easter, Halloween, and St. Patrick’s Day.

A 300-year-old custom, the king cake takes its name from the biblical Magi, who in Christian liturgical tradition, visited the infant Jesus on Epiphany – commemorated in modern times on Jan. 6.

New Orleans claims to be the largest consumer of king cakes in the world, and it is very common for friends, families, and even co-workers to host king cake parties every week through Carnival season. However, the original king cakes were a far cry from today’s glazed and cream-filled pastries.

The king cake has evolved from something resembling dried French bread with sugar on top, to something more akin to a moist, braided Danish coffee cake in the shape of a circle. In earlier times, a raw bean representing the infant Jesus was hidden inside the cake as a surprise find for a special guest. Today, the bean has been replaced by a small plastic baby which is hidden under the cake, and the person who gets the piece of cake with the baby is obligated to supply the king cake at the next gathering.

Manny Randazzo still offers the traditional, no-frills-added cinnamon-infused king cake for the purists, but the offerings get decidedly more exciting with optional fillings including cream cheese, apple, lemon, and strawberry. If you can’t decide, then there is the Royal King Cake featuring all four flavorings.

The Royal King Cake was extremely soft and most – an absolute delight that would be perfect without any filling at all. It retains hints of its past incarnation as a cinnamon coffee brioche, which is part of its brilliance. Enjoy this cake with a group of friends; otherwise, you could find yourself eating the entire thing in one sitting.

Another option is Randazzo’s award-winning Pecan Praline king cake, which was recently crowned the “King Cake King.”

Because of the popularity of the king cake and the narrow window of opportunity to get your order filled, expect long lines that often stretch out onto the sidewalk at Manny Randazzo’s. Cakes for Carnival can be shipped just about anywhere in the U.S., and packages include a Mardi Gras cup, beads, and doubloons.

Don Redman is associate editor of AAA Southern Traveler.

January/February 2016 Issue

BEFORE YOU GO

Manny Randazzo King Cakes
3515 N. Hullen St.
Metairie, LA 70002
(504) 456-1476
or (866) 456-1476
www.randazzokingcake.com


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