Mardi Gras season is often accompanied by king cake, a pastry that has an interesting story behind it (yes, there’s usually a plastic baby inside this cake, but don’t let that scare you). There are many versions, but no matter how you slice it, it’s pure deliciousness. Our twist on the classic is a nod to the culinary and cocktail culture of the Big Easy: tender, buttery brioche filled with spiced pecans and doused in a bourbon-tinged glaze.
What to buy: Tradition dictates that a toy baby be hidden inside the cake, and the person who gets the slice with the baby is to hold the next king cake party—a practice that happens regularly from Twelfth Night until Fat Tuesday. Whether you follow the tradition or not, you can buy plastic babies online.
Sanding sugar is sometimes labeled pearl sugar and can be found in gourmet grocery and cooking stores. If you can’t find it, just sub in some granulated sugar.
This recipe was featured as part of our New Orleans King Cake
for Mardi Gras story.
The CHOW Test Kitchen updated this recipe in February 2012. We changed the instructions regarding when to add the plastic baby to the cake—it should be hidden in the baked, cooled cake. All of the ingredients remain the same.
For the filling:
For the decoration: