Today is the Feast of the Epiphany, the 12th day after Christmas, which falls on Jan. 6 each year. It also is the traditional start of Carnival season.
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Carnival, for you newcomers, is the season of revelry before Lent. Mardi Gras, or Fat Tuesday, is the last day of Carnival season, the day before Ash Wednesday, when Lent begins.
And of course, if you’ve been keeping up, you know king cakes are the unofficial/official pastry of Carnival season. Complete with a baby inside (so you can be “king” for the day — and buy the next king cake), the pastries come in different sizes and flavors, almost always drizzled with icing and sprinkled with green, gold and purple sugars.
Now that your mouth is watering, you’re wondering, “Where can I get one of those?” Well, we did a little research. Here’s where you can find king cakes in South Mississippi:
Last year: Anderson’s sticks with its traditional five flavors, and strawberry and cream cheese was very popular.
This year: The five flavors will be available again this year.
Price: Anderson’s makes one size, says Darkel Solo. King cakes are $9.95 each.
Last year: Jennifer Noble said Cheeky Monkey’s king cakes are notably different because their filling flavors are baked into the batter. There are many flavors, but the most unique (and popular) cakes from last year was the pulled-pork king cake with a tasty barbecue sauce and a bacon king cake with a maple–cream cheese filling.
This year: Two new king cakes are what Noble calls her “test kitchen.” Soon she’ll unveil a PB&J king cake and a banana, honey and bacon king cake inspired by Elvis Presley.
Price: Regular-size king cakes are $16 each, Noble said, and mini king cakes that are perfect for gifts or for trying new flavors are $10.
Last year: Crazy B’s, a staple in Pascagoula, sells an array of king cakes in many shapes and sizes every Mardi Gras. Last year, the turtle cheesecake king cake (stuffed with chocolate, caramel, pecans and cream cheese) was a hit, but the most popular was the s’more’s king cake. It’s filled with chocolate and marshmallow cream and sprinkled with graham crackers, owner Susan Kendrick said.
This year: Crazy B’s newest concoction, a banana split king cake, is now available, Kendrick said. It’s stuffed with banana cream, chocolate and pineapple. The cake is then drizzled with chocolate and topped with cherries. King cake bites, the perfect size for an afternoon sweets craving, are also coming back this year.
Price: $7.99 to $29.99 depending on size and flavors
Last year: This iconic Biloxi shop has been around longer than most of us, and its classic king cakes come with many filling flavors. The most popular king cake last year was the strawberry-filled or blueberry-filled.
This year: Electrik Maid employees said customers should try their signature king cake that’s stuffed with pecans, raisins, walnuts, cinnamon and cream cheese. The shop is also known for its king cake bites and alligator-shaped king cakes.
Price: $11 for a small king cake, $19.50 for a large king cake or alligator king cake, $9 per dozen king cake bites.
Last year: Fleur De Lis Bakery in Gulfport sold more pecan praline with cream cheese king cakes than any other flavor during the 2016 Carnival season.
This year: The bakery, known for its French-inspired cakes and pastries, is aiming for authenticity this year. It won’t be making king cakes but instead the French version of the treat, called pithivier. It’s a puff pastry traditionally filled with almond cream, but the bakery will offer a variety of flavors.
Price: A pithivier of any flavor will cost $35.
Last year: The shop moved from downtown Long Beach to Gulfport more than a year ago, and owner Melissa Fischer said her king cakes were a huge seller for Carnival 2016 — she sold 1,000 of them. As with many other bakeries across the Coast, her strawberry cream cheese king cake and pecan praline cake were the most popular.
This year: Fischer isn’t changing anything this year; she said she’ll continue to offer 20 flavors. Her cakes are braided and hand rolled. Melissa’s will ship cakes anywhere in the Unites States.
Price: $15.95 to $19.95
Last year: A pastry chef at Palace Casino said king cake sales were very successful, and the crew at the bakery will start making cakes and custom orders this week. Last year, the most popular king cakes were filled with strawberries and cream cheese. Other customer favorites were blueberry cream cheese, cherry, apple and praline.
This year: The Palace will offer a bananas Foster king cake, and the bakery staff will work to whip up new specialty flavors as well, but none is set in stone yet.
Price: Varies based on king cake
Last year: In 1972, the iconic king cake bakery in Picayune was the first to fill king cakes with something other than cinnamon. Paul’s Pastry sold about 65,000 king cakes in 2016, and its most popular seller was berry deluxe. It’s filled with blueberry, strawberry raspberry and blackberry in four separate quarters, and all of the fillings are over cream cheese. Paul’s is also known for its pecan praline cake, which combines cream cheese, maple and brown sugar.
This year: The new flavor of 2017 is a German chocolate king cake, stuffed with coconut, chocolate and pecans. Paul’s also ships Mardi Gras specialties nationwide, and its cakes are sold locally at its Picayune store and at stores across the Coast.
Price: $8.99 to $24.99
Last year: Lee Lee Williams said the most popular king cake last year was a blueberry cream cheese, even though it’s the highest priced cake she has. All of the king cakes are made daily, from scratch, but you better hurry because Quality is only open 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. — or until they sell out (which they do on a regular basis.)
This year: Williams said they haven’t come up with a new flavor this year, but she may announce one on her Facebook page, which is offering a Mardi Gras trivia question each week. The random winner chosen receives one of their king cakes!
Price: King cakes start at $9.99 for a single filling. Each additional filling is a $1 more. Blueberry cream cheese king cakes are $15.
Last year: The Gautier bakery custom makes king cakes, so it’s whatever the customer wants. However, the cream cheese with fresh-made fruit fillings were very popular.
This year: Made-to-order king cakes, so it’s all about what the customer wants.
Price: King cakes start at $25.
Last year: Chris Benigno said the traditional cream cheese king cake was popular last year, along with the signature Torta Dolce, made with caramel, chocolate, cream cheese and pecans. “They’re very decadent,” she said.
This year: Benigno said she’s experimenting with mixed berry and three-berry flavors this year.
Price: By the pound. A quarter-pound, which feeds two, is $5; a standard 1-pound is $16 and a 5-pounder, which feeds about 40, is $55.
We tried reaching as many bakeries as we could, and we know there can be more spots on this list that offer king cakes to die for. Do you own a bakery offering king cakes? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to have your shop added to the list.
Kate Magandy: 228-896-2344, @kmagandy