What’s the best king cake to order for shipping?
It’s by far the most frequent question I get. And it’s a fun one, too.
I think one of the underrated joys of the Mardi Gras season is introducing someone new to a king cake. Everyone loves sweet, colorful things, and here New Orleans is with one that’s ubiquitous in Louisiana, but nearly absent in the rest of the country.
Last year, my girlfriend shipped a king cake to her niece and nephew in Philadelphia. Her two-year-old nephew, in particular — having never seen a king cake before — lost his damn mind. I’m about to ship one to my mom, and I imagine a similar reaction.
But here’s the tricky part: with so many options, which king cake do you send them?
Here’s five sure-fire options that are beautiful to look at, and also — in my humble opinion — some of the most delicious in the city.
We all have different tastes. To my tastes, there is no better king cake in the city than Tartine’s.
Why? It’s dense, and it’s got a healthy (well…not technically healthy) amount of cinnamon and cream cheese inside. I remember the first time I had one and I pulled off a piece of what I assumed was brioche from the end of the cake. I popped it in my mouth and…it was actually some cream cheese/cinnamon that had burst out from the king cake’s seams. (I’ve since learned that special surprise has a name: a king cake cookie!)
When it comes to shipping, you have the choice between two-day delivery ($50, including the cost of the cake) or overnight shipping ($75). All orders are shipped on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays.
Chaya Conrad knows king cake. In fact, she used to oversee the production of 400,000 of them each year when she was the bakery director at Louisiana’s Rouses Market. In 2017 she opened her very own Bywater Bakery just in time for Carnival, and her king cakes have been things of lore ever since. They feature a delicious ooey-gooey butter filling.
The king cakes they offer for delivery — via two-day FedEx Air — are their original Carnival King Cake ($50, including the cost of cake), as well as Praline-stuffed, Apple-stuffed, Azul Dulce Blueberry, and their new-for-this-year Lemon Cream (each for $55). Shipments take place every Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday!
Buttery brioche stuffed with chocolate cream cheese and topped with dark, rich Swiss chocolate — Bittersweet Confection’s chocolate king cake is a dream.
You can also have their standard cinnamon variety shipped, but it’s their chocolate one that…(I’m very sorry)…takes the cake.
Like Bywater Bakery and Tartine, king cakes ship on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. If you don’t place your order by 3 p.m. on Tuesday, it will be shipped the next day. Cake + Shipping is $65.
If you’re a traditionalist, then I was going to suggest either Haydel’s or Manny Randazzo’s. Randazzo’s is done shipping for the year, so Haydel’s it is! Trust me, though, no one’s going to be upset when one of these beauties show up at their door. In fact, for many New Orleanians, this is what Mardi Gras tastes like — Haydel’s are the cakes they’ve been eating every Carnival since they were a kids.
They’re made of Danish dough and topped with delicious fondant icing (plus the customary purple, green and gold sugar).
For shipping, your options are Traditional ($55, including the cost of cake), Cream Cheese-stuffed ($59), “Da Parish” which includes sprinkles ($55), Praline Pecan ($59), Strawberry Cream Cheese ($59), and a variety without icing ($55).
Each cake also comes with a king cake history scroll, a pack of French Market coffee, and specialty-made Haydel’s Mardi Gras beads.
For the vegans in our life, there is also a plant-based option available for shipping from Breads on Oak. They’re able to ship Traditional ($50, including the cost of cake), Bavarian Cream ($58), and Cream Cheese ($58).
All of the “creams” in the above-mentioned cakes are made with plant-based options (think almond milk), and even the colored sugar on top is carefully chosen to avoid artificial flavors. The purple, for example, comes from beets, the green is derived from cabbage, and the gold is from turmeric and Anatto (from the seeds of an achiote tree).
It’s a beautiful and creative king cake, and I’d compare the taste to a really good coffee cake.
So there you have it! If you’re looking to have a king cake shipped to you — or if you want to send a king cake to a special someone — here are five excellent options.
Do you feel like I missed one? Leave a comment and let us all know what your favorite shippable king cake is! And for more content on king cakes, New Orleans, hiking and/or whatever else I’m thinking about, follow me on Facebook , Instagram, and Twitter — and sign up for my newsletter. Thanks!