For starters, it’s only served during Carnival, so in theory, you can only get it between Epiphany (January 6) and Fat Tuesday.* Limited availability makes anything special.
Also, it comes in a vast array of flavors. Some prefer the “traditional” king cake, which doesn’t usually have much flavor apart from the granulated sugar on top and maybe a little cinnamon mixed in the dough. I for one find that completely underwhelming: bring on the Bavarian cream or the apple and goat cheese, please.
However, king cake also presents a major dilemma: what the hell are you supposed to drink with it?
This is a problem because (a) king cake is served during Carnival, which is a time of overindulgence and celebration, but (b) it’s often served in the morning, and the thought of slugging a traditional eye-opener like a Bloody Mary with king cake is positively gut-wrenching.
In the best of all worlds, every king cake would come packaged with someone who knows how to make Cafe Brulot. However, we do not live in the best of all worlds. And besides, Cafe Brulot is a fire hazard, even in a Creole shotgun house with 12-foot ceilings.
That said, non-flaming coffee is probably a good place to start in our quest for king cake complements — maybe with a splash of Frangeligo or Nocello or spiced rum.
Or if we wanted to take it to extremes, we could convert that king cake into bread pudding and baste it with brandy. Though then you probably lose the fun of pulling out the baby, which wouldn’t survive the conversion.
Got any better ideas? Drop us a line, or leave a note in the comments below.
* This is changing. Some bakeries now make St. Patrick’s Day cakes and Easter cakes and Saints cakes and on and on and on. It’s sacrilege, yes, but also sacrelicious.