If you’re hosting a Mardi Gras celebration, chances are you’re on the hunt for a king cake to serve as part of the festivities. Circular in shape (like a king’s crown), the king cake is a concoction that is part French pastry and part coffee cake, sometimes filled with cream or fruit, and often topped with icing and colored sugar (like the Louisiana-style versions decorated in purple, green and gold).
The tradition, which was brought over from France to New Orleans in the late-1800s, kicks off the Mardi Gras or Carnival season —also known as the “Twelfth Night,” “Three King’s Day” or the Christian feast day of Epiphany. In a nod to the story of the three wise men/kings delivering gifts to baby Jesus on this day, the tradition of a small plastic baby hidden inside the king cake emerged (other trinkets can be hidden inside, but the baby is by far the most popular nowadays). Whoever finds the baby inside their slice of cake gets to be “king” for the day—and is the host of next year’s celebration.
King cake is typically available at bakeries until Ash Wednesday and the start of Lent. So indulge in sweets, sugar and libations this Mardi Gras—and don’t forget the king cake. Here are a few spots around town to grab yours.
Bourbon Street Ice. The Kennesaw spot owned by New Orleans native Dee Carter offers a variety of king cakes, including a traditional cake with cinnamon and Mardi Gras-colored sugar and stuffed versions with cream cheese, strawberries, pralines, apples and even crawfish. Bourbon Street Ice also offers vegan, dairy-free and gluten-free options and other New Orleans-inspired desserts including snoballs and pecan pralines.
1635 Old 41 Hwy NW, Kennesaw. 770-693-5947, bourbonstreetice.com/
Douceur de France. With locations in Marietta and Roswell, French bakery and café Douceur de France offers a host of different authentic king cakes for your Mardi Gras party. The galette des rois is made with flaky dough and almond vanilla cream, while their New Orleans-style King Cake is brioche with cinnamon drops and cream cheese-covered with fondant and sugar. For more info, call your local bakery.
277 S. Marietta Pkwy. SW, Marietta, 770-425-5050; 1173 Alpharetta St., Roswell, 770-650-1173; douceurdefrance.com/
Dutch Monkey Doughnuts. Dutch Monkey Doughnuts’ 10-inch doughnut king cakes are made to serve eight people. This tasty version is twisted with nutmeg and cinnamon, then deep fried, glazed, coated in salted butter and topped with cream cheese icing and sprinkles. And yes, there's a baby hidden inside each one. The cake is $25. Ordering details are online under the "Advance Orders" tab. Dutch Monkey sells them assembled by pre-order at their shop, and they also ship a "kit" nationwide through Goldbely.com.
3075 Ronald Reagan Blvd. #502, Cumming, 404-482- 3650,dutchmonkeydoughnuts.com.
Henri’s Bakery. With a French focus, Henri’s Bakery specializes in cakes and pastries. This year, they’re offering king cakes with cream cheese and cinnamon fillings in medium ($27.99) and large ($40.99). The small cake serves approximately 10 people, while the medium serves 16 and the large serves 24. The bakery recommends placing orders two days in advance.
Locations in West Midtown, Buckhead and Sandy Springs. henrisbakery.com.
McEntyre’s Bakery. Made from scratch and baked fresh, King Cakes from McEntyre’s Bakery in Smyrna can be picked up from their store or delivered to you in metro Atlanta (call for a delivery quote). The cake, which includes the prize baby to hide inside, is available in two flavors: cherry, cream cheese and pecan-filled; and a cinnamon pecan-filled. The cake costs $32.99 and serves 15-20. Be sure to call at least 24 hours in advance to place your order. Note: they’re closed on Sundays and Mondays, so you need to order by 5 p.m. the Saturday before a Tuesday pick-up or delivery.
1184 Concord Rd. SE, Ste. 1, Smyrna, 770-434-3115, mcentyresbakery.com.
Honeysuckle Gelato. Looking for a twist on the traditional king cake? Honeysuckle has turned the traditional dessert into a $5 Praline Cheesecake King Cake Gelato Sandwich with cream cheese and bits of New Orleans-style pralines stuffed between two cookies. Those who find a hidden baby will get a free serving of Honeysuckle Gelato. The sandwiches will be available from 11 a.m.-10:30 p.m. March 1-2; noon-8 p.m. March 3; and 11 a.m.-9 p.m. March 4-5.
Ponce City Market, 675 Ponce de Leon Ave., Atlanta.404-228-7825, honeysucklegelato.com/