It’s Carnival season, which means Mardi Gras is just around the corner and King Cakes are hitting the shelves.
The traditional dessert is a hallmark of the season, which runs from early January until the start of Lent, especially in Louisiana.
Whether you’re a New Orleans transplant or just looking for a new treat to try, here’s what to know about King Cake and where to find it in the Charlotte area:
What is King Cake?
King Cake is a sweet dessert associated with the celebration of the Mardi Gras season, also known as Carnival, especially in New Orleans. The name comes from the Biblical story of the three kings bringing gifts to baby Jesus.
New Orleans’ tourism department describes it as “a blend of coffee cake and cinnamon roll” that is often filled with fruity or chocolaty creams or a cream cheese mixture. Cakes are often covered in icing, frosting or other decorations in the colors of Mardi Gras: yellow, green and purple.
Traditionally, a tiny plastic baby is hidden in the cake, and “whoever finds it must either bring the next cake or throw a party.”
Where to find King Cake in Charlotte
Location: 242 N. Main St., Mooresville, NC 28115
What to know: CynTucci’s is taking pre-orders for King Cakes ahead of Mardi Gras. You can place your order by calling 704-360-8504.
Manolo’s Latin Bakery
Location: 4405 Central Ave., Charlotte, NC 28205
Neighborhood: Windsor Park
What to know: Manolo’s offers King Cake in multiple sizes as well as Rosca de Reyes, a Latin version of the dessert. You can order online at manolosbakery.com.
What to know: Some Publix grocery stores in the Charlotte area offer King Cakes. You can use the chain’s website to check your store’s stock.
[Related: What is the most popular grocery store in NC? These are the 5 places shoppers love most.]
Location: 6401 Morrison Blvd #4A, Charlotte, NC 28211
What to know: Renaissance Patisserie offers “traditional New Orleans king cake.”
Location: 4245 Park Road, Charlotte, NC 28209
Location: 1115 N Brevard St., Charlotte, NC 28206
Neighborhood: Optimist Park
What to know: Suárez Bakery offers King Cakes with a choice of fillings: cinnamon and brown sugar or cream cheese. Pre-orders are already sold out, but a limited quantity will be available for sale in-store Feb. 28 and March 1.
The Bakery Shoppe
Location: 9609 Sherrill Estates Road, Huntersville, NC 28078
What to know: The Bakery Shoppe offers King Cakes through Mardi Gras in multiple flavors: plain, apple, cheese, or lemon. You can order by calling 704-987-8225 or visiting thebakeryshoppe.com/product/king-cakes.
King Cake recipe
If you want to make your own King Cake, there are plenty of recipes available, including from New Orleans institutions such as Sucre.
Some New Orleans bakeries will even ship you a King Cake mix, so you can enjoy the fun of baking your own cake without having to start from scratch.
When is Mardi Gras?
Mardi Gras, also known as Fat Tuesday, falls on March 1 in 2022. It marks the end of Carnival season, which starts Jan. 6, known as Epiphany, Twelfth Night or Three Kings Day in Christianity.
The holiday is always the day before Ash Wednesday, which is the first day of Lent in the Christian faith.
©2022 The Charlotte Observer. Visit charlotteobserver.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.