Holiday Time

Only in the South: Celebrate the Arrival of 2020 with Unique New Year's Eve Drops (December 2019)

Log on to Cyber Monday Deals (December 2019)

Southern Hospitality Traveler's Favorite Things About October (October 2019)

Honor the Red, White and Blue in the South with Independence Day Celebrations (July 2019)

Laissez Les Bons Temps Rouler! Celebrating Mardi Gras 2019 (February 2019)

Pickle, Pelican or Peach: The Many Unique Ways the South Welcomes in the New Year (December 2018)

Get Into the Holiday Spirit with the 29th Annual Smoky Mountain Winterfest (November 2018)

17 Celebrations Honoring the Red, White and Blue (June 2018)

Celebrate Mom this Mother's Day with Getaways and Experiences (May 2018)

"Throw me Somethin' Mister!" Celebrating Mardi Gras 2018 (January 2018)

Beach Ball, Fleur-De-Lis, MoonPie: Unique New Year's Eve Drops in the South (December 2017)

25 Festive Events to Keep that Holiday Feeling Through the New Year (December 2017)

Awe-Inspiring Gingerbread Displays at Various Hotels and Resorts Around the South (December 2017)

Fun and Fireworks: 14 Events Celebrating Independence Day (June 2017)

Celebrate 2017 Mardi Gras in the South (February 2017)

Three Festive Ways to Avoid Going Stir Crazy Before the Holidays (December 2016)

30 Ways to Get Your "Jingle" On in the South (December 2016)

Five Ways to Experience the Holidays "Louisiana-Style" (December 2016)

"Brighten Up" Your Holidays with These Holiday Light Displays (November 2016)

Red, White, Blue and You: Fourth of July Celebrations in the South (July 2016)

Drops, Celebrations and More: Memorable Ways to Welcome in 2016 (December 2015)

Spark Your Holiday Spirit with the Many Events Happening Around the South (December 2015)

Six Places to Celebrate the Holiday Season (December 2015)

So Many Ways to Kick Off the Holiday Season in the South (November 2015)

14 Dazzling Holiday Light Displays Throughout the South to Enjoy Now (November 2015)

Celebrate the Holidays in Minden and North Louisiana with the Louisiana Holiday Trail of Lights (November 2015)

New Twist on an Old Favorite: Amping Up the Grilled Cheese (April 2015)

Celebrate National Soup Month Anytime with Recipes from Benchmark Resorts & Hotels (January 2015)

Move Over Ball Drop - This is How the South Welcomes in the New Year (December 2014)

Ways to Get Your Holiday On in the South (December 2014)

Liven Up Your Thanksgiving Meal with Some Myrtle Beach, S.C.-Style Comfort Foods (November 2014)

Warm Up the Days and the Nights with These Chili Recipes (October 2014)

Creating the Perfect Cheeseburger with Crawford Ker on National Cheeseburger Day (September 2014)

Celebrate National Martini Day with these Recipes (June 2014)

It's Great to be King...Celebrating Mardi Season with King Cake Creations (February 2014)

Celebrate Your Valentine with a Getaway (February 2014)

A MoonPie, Pickle, Red Stick and More...Welcoming in the New Year in the South (December 2013)

Celebrate the Holidays with a New Orleans' Reveillon Dinner (December 2013)

2013 Holiday Gift Guide...Packages and Escapes (December 2013)

2013 Holiday Gift Guide: Books (December 2013)

2013 Holiday Gift Guide: Food and Beverage (December 2013)

2013 Holiday Gift Guide: Made in the South (December 2013)

2013 Holiday Gift Guide: Experiences in the South (December 2013)

End Your Holiday Meal on a Sweet Note courtesy of Chef Sara Thomas (November 2013)

From Their Table to Yours: Holiday Recipes from The Carolina Inn (November 2013)

Firing Up the Grill: Tips and Recipes for a Successful and Tasty Grilling Season (May 2013)

Breakfast for Mom, Southern-Style (May 2013)

Mom-Worthy Hotels in the South (May 2013)

Talkin' Mardi Gras, Shreveport, La. Style (February 2013)

Southern Style: 13 Things You Must Do in 2013 (January 2013)

Holiday Joy: Tips for Creating the Perfect Gingerbread House (December 2012)

Absolutely Southern Gift Guide: Secret is in the Sauce at Raleigh Marriott Crabtree Valley (December 2012)

Absolutely Southern Gift Guide: Make It Memorable and Give the Gift of an Experience (December 2012)

8 Reasons to Visit Louisiana’s Holiday Trail of Lights this Season (December 2012)

Absolutely Southern Gift Guide: Chef's Table at Emeril's Delmonico (December 2012)

Absolutely Southern Gift Guide: Simply Ballastone Cookbook (November 2012)

Treat Your Mom to One of These Eight Southern Destinations (May 2012)

Seeing Various Shades of Green: St. Patrick’s Day Celebrations in the South (March 2012)

It’s Mardi Gras Time in the South (February 2012)

Celebrate Elvis Presley’s Birthday in the South (January 2012)

A MoonPie, a Pickle, a Horseshoe and More: Ringing in the New Year Southern-Style (December 2011)

Celebrate the Holidays New Orleans-Style with a Reveillon Dinner (December 2011)

"Treat" Yourself this Holiday Season with (November 2011)

Holiday Fun in the South After Thanksgiving (November 2011)

Holiday Fun at Gaylord Opryland (November 2011)

Tours and Treats Along Virginia’s Inn to Inn Cookie Trail and Tour (November 2011)

Celebrating Milestones in the South (August 2010)

5 Activities that Add a "Sizzle" to Your Summer Vacation (June 2010)

Forget Gifts, Give Experiences This Mother’s Day (April 2010)

Celebrating Mardi Gras 2010 (February 2010)

Published: February 2014
It's Great to be King...Celebrating Mardi Season with King Cake Creations  

"King cake is to Mardi Gras what pumpkin pie is to Thanksgiving -- the holiday just wouldn't be the same without it,” says David Guas, chef and owner, Bayou Bakery, Coffee Bar & Eatery. “Every table in every home, office, cafeteria, and lounge will be graced by a king cake at some point between Twelfth Night and Fat Tuesday when Lent begins.”

Even though his restaurant is located in Arlington, Va., the New Orleans-native prepares a taste of home with the “BB” king cake. Complete with cinnamon and  their signature cream cheese filling, he describes the cake as being similar to a glazed coffee cake.

“It is more of a sweet bread than a cake.”

“Of course it's also decorated with sugar tinted with the three colors of Mardi Gras, and has the traditional plastic baby hidden inside."

However, king cakes weren’t always sweet or as elaborate as they are today.

With its history extending back to early European times, Liz Williams, director of Southern Food & Beverage Museum in New Orleans, says king cakes originally were made with yeast and depending on where you lived in Europe determined if you had small or big cake.

She adds it was around the early 20th century up until the 1970s that bakers started to use brioche dough and decorated with colored sugar.

In the 1980s, king cake changed once again as people started to use Danish dough and included fillings like cream cheese.

As for the king cakes of today, chefs and bakers continue to push the envelope when it comes to creative and memorable king cakes.

For instance, at Ralph’s on the Park in New Orleans, it is all about mini king cakes.

“We want everyone to have their cake and eat it too, so we have created mini king cakes with a side of strawberry preserves and cream cheese icing so they can customize each bite," says executive pastry chef Brett Gauthier

Forget calories, and enjoy total indulgence with a king cake from Battiste Bakery & Blends. Made from scratch, the flavors include everything from the traditional cinnamon and brown sugar, and blueberry to the decadent Reese’s Peanut Butter king cake and decadent Bananas Foster king cake. Working from her kitchen in Mobile, Ala., co-owner Gina Underwood says everything is from made from scratch.

“I begin with a more pastry type dough, which makes the cake more moist,” she says. “I also use homemade buttercream that adds a little more richness and don’t use granulated sugar.”

Each cake is topped with plastic baby and Mardi Gras beads.

Only available at select stores in Mobile and Jackson County, Miss., she also ships the king cakes as well. She also does a few special order king cakes year around.

Then there is a king cake that is somewhat like a meal. Broad Street Bakery in Jackson, Miss., is offering a savory stuffed crawfish king cake in addition to their traditional almond and cream cheese king cake. Pastry chef Jen Adelsheimer decided to take the crawfish dip and the jalapeño cheddar brioche loaf from the bakery’s catering menu and combine them.

Testing the savory king cake out at family gatherings where it was well received, she knew she had to sell them at the bakery.

“It has a nice kick to it and isn’t too spicy.”

While the savory king cake is new to the bakery this year, it isn’t their first time doing something different. Last year, they introduced holiday-themed king cakes, like a candy bar one for Halloween in which Adelsheimer says it had nearly every type of candy bar crushed into it, and a chocolate-chip eggnog king cake for Christmas.

“The different king cakes have been very successful, and a lot of fun to make,” she says.

“It’s been great to bring this tradition to Jackson.”

One tip regarding the savory king cake, it is only available on Saturdays during the season on a first come, first service basis.

And then there are king cakes beyond the cake-shaped form, such as Cammie’s Old Dutch Ice Cream Shoppe in Mobile, Ala., offers king cake ice cream Home to 47 homemade flavors, owner Cammie Wayne says the flavor only available during Mardi Gras season, and there is a good reason why. She uses actual king cakes in her recipe.

Selecting cakes with cream cheese filling, Wayne rips them bits, adds in a little of her own purple-color cream cheese icing and then kneads it all together to make it softer.

For a little more some taste, she adds a little cinnamon flavor to the ice cream; and as the ice cream churns, she adds the icing and cake in layers, so it is equally distributed throughout.

For the past three years, pastry chef Lisa Gustafson has prepared king cake bread pudding at Patois in New Orleans, and she says people love it, as well her. She admits to snacking on it quite a bit.

Gustafson makes her own king cake, but doesn’t add any glaze to it like a traditional king cake. She adds a some sort of fruit sauce; in the past she sued strawberries, and this year she uses huckleberries, which she says is her favorite.

Completing the dessert, she includes goat milk ice cream, followed by white chocolate garnish and for the final touches, dust it with purple, green and gold sugar.

“It’s a very colorful dessert,” says Gustafson.

And in true king cake fashion, she adds a baby to the plate to “give people a little surprise.”

It was the success of “Elf on the Shelf” cookies at Sweet Robichaux in Prairieville, La., that led to the creation of the king cake cookie.

“There was such a great response with the ‘Elf on the Shelf’ cookies, I knew I needed to come up with something for Mardi Gras.”

After a lot of experimentation, Robichaux secured the recipe. Using a base of vanilla and real cream cheese and some other ingredients, he swirls in brown cinnamon. The cookie is then topped off with vanilla icing, with a green, gold and purple design.

“It is spot on with the flavor,” he says. “It’s a great product and we’ve had a great response.”

Pastry chef Amy Lemon creates two distinctively different king cake type desserts for two distinctively different restaurants.

Responsible for sweet treats at both NOLA Restaurant and Emeril’s Delmonico in New Orleans, Lemon creates a king cake bread pudding for NOLA using a brioche pastry. The bread pudding features lemon goat cheese ice cream, blackberry compote and finishes with a light dusting of purple, green and gold sugar.

At Delmonico, she takes a unique twist with her king cake doughnuts, using cinnamon doughnuts and white icing with purple, green and gold sugar stripes on top. The doughnuts are served with local strawberry jam and toasted pecans.

photo credits:  (top left) Ellen SilvermanDamGoodSweet ; (mid right) Broad St. Bakery, savory king cake; (bottom right) Emeril Lagasse Restaurants, king cake doughnuts