Hail to the King Cake! The Colorful Story Behind the Season’s Favorite Treat

Hail to the King Cake! The Colorful Story Behind the Season’s Favorite Treat

Dessert Gallery's King Cake surrounded by its hand-decorated butter cookies

IT LOOKS LIKE a giant bagel at a Pride parade, or maybe a wreath gone wild — but was actually created to mimic a jeweled crown. Love it or hate it, oh-so-sweet and sparkly Mardi Gras King Cake is royalty in H-town and is selling like hot cakes this month.


Reportedly, the first King Cakes were made in Europe in celebration of the Catholic Epiphany (Jan. 6). The French brought the cake with them to Louisiana in the 1870s, and all these years later, it’s become synonymous with the French Quarter, Mardi Gras, Fat Tuesday and the related festivities. King Cakes have their own season starting right after the New Year lasting all the way through Mardi Gras.

“In January 2014, I went on a bakery tour of New Orleans and surrounding areas with bakery owners from all over the country, and had never thought much about king cakes until that trip,” says Sara Brook, owner of Dessert Gallery in Houston. “Holy cow! I've never seen so many varieties and each one better than the next.”

King Cakes are traditionally covered with oodles of green, purple and yellow-gold sprinkles. Those colors aren’t random. The green symbolizes faith; purple stands for power; and yellow-gold represents justice. Let’s not forget the tiny hidden baby inside — whoever gets the slice with the baby is “crowned” king or queen for the day!

Brook brought the tradition home to Dessert Gallery and King Cake has made its annual appearance year after year with increasing popularity. “We've tried fancy flavor combos, but the hands-down favorite with customers is always cinnamon and sugar with that yummy drizzle with colored sugar, beads and a baby, of course.” The sweets boutique offers strawberry and blueberry toppings on the side if a customer wants to gild the lily (whole cakes $24.95, through March 1).

Looking for the ultimate party favor? “Our hand-decorated Dessert Gallery Mardi Gras butter cookies are over the top. Gorgeous and intricate masks, crowns, and fleur-de-lis are popular with big kids and little kids alike,” adds Brook.

Laissez les bons temps roulez!

Food
Ancient French Wellness Cures Reimagined at Houston’s Escape Spa: The Power of Vichy

Serial entrepreneur and spa visionary LeBrina Jackson

NESTLED IN THE heart of France, the town of Vichy holds a rich history in the world of wellness and hydrotherapy. Acquiring fame for their alkaline springs in the 17th century, the Romans were among the first to recognize the therapeutic benefits of the springs. They established a French spa known as “Vichy,” which still exists today and continues to attract spa-goers from around the world to experience the transformative effects of hydrotherapy.

Keep ReadingShow less

Slushies at Fuzzy's

IT’S OFFICIAL: THE long holiday that kicks off summer arrives this weekend, and Houstonians are due. Getting hungry, thirsty, and ready for some R&R? Whether you want to grill at home, start with casual brunch, or hit a Memorial Day celebration to honor our veterans, we’ve got you covered.

Keep ReadingShow less
Food

“DO YOU KNOW how a river forms?” is the question that begins Houston author Vaishnavi Patel’s new book, Goddess of the River. The voice belongs to Ganga, goddess of India’s Ganges river, who has been transformed against her will by Lord Shiva from “a tributary of the cosmic ocean” into the physical form of a mere winding river, with no path to the heavens, only the sea. Later, Ganga runs afoul of a powerful sage who transforms her yet again into a human, and as it happens in myths, things get complicated.

Keep ReadingShow less
Art + Entertainment