Crown the King with bacon

Advocate staff photo by JOHN McCUSKERThis Mardi Gras season, Cochon Butcher offers an Elvis king cake: peanut butter and banana filling with a toasted marshmallow topping and, the crowning glory, bacon. Assistant pastry chef Michael Carmody, left, with pastry chef Rhonda Ruckman, came up with the concept last year.
Advocate staff photo by JOHN McCUSKERThis Mardi Gras season, Cochon Butcher offers an Elvis king cake: peanut butter and banana filling with a toasted marshmallow topping and, the crowning glory, bacon. Assistant pastry chef Michael Carmody, left, with pastry chef Rhonda Ruckman, came up with the concept last year.

Area bakers tackle Carnival confection with unusual flavors

The king behind Cochon Butcher’s king cake isn’t the one we usually associate with the Mardi Gras pastry.

This one’s a little more rock ’n’ roll.

For Mardi Gras, the restaurant at 930 Tchoupitoulas St., New Orleans, will serve an Elvis king cake, filled with peanut butter and bananas and topped with toasted marshmallows and bacon.

“They’re a little bit crazy,” pastry chef Rhonda Ruckman said of the confection, which started out last year as gifts to friends. “It’s fun and different.”

This isn’t Cochon’s first flirtation with Elvis-inspired food. In the past, Butcher featured Elvis sandwiches and the main Cochon restaurant also featured Elvis ice cream. Michael Carmody, Ruckman’s assistant, came up with the idea for a crawfish boil and then it was tested out on friends and family.

The Elvis cake joins Cochon Butcher’s lineup of cinnamon, lemon, apple and creole cream cheese, and chocolate peanut butter king cakes. This year, all but the Elvis cake will be offered in individual sizes. The Elvis cake will be available by the slice in the restaurant or can be ordered whole.

Unlike some other outlets, Cochon Butcher won’t offer its Elvis cakes until Jan. 6 — Twelfth Night, the traditional start of the Mardi Gras season.

“We’re traditionalists in that sense,” Ruckman said.

In Baton Rouge, bacon also stars in Tiger Deaux-nuts’ maple-iced king cake. The doughnut shop at 4608 Jones Creek Road, Suite 250, is featuring a deep-fried, doughnut-based king cake iced with maple frosting and topped with bacon pieces.

Jeff Herman, the shop’s owner and baker, said he focuses on a gourmet doughnut in unusual flavors like apple pie, bananas Foster and s’mores.

“I’m still a one-man operation at this point,” he said.

The shop started out with a craving for doughnuts. Herman, a New Orleans native, was sitting on his couch one Sunday and wanted a doughnut, but the nearest shop was 15 minutes away. So he decided to try his hand at making his own. Tiger Deaux-nuts was born.

“Lots of trial and error and stress and frustration and then hope and satisfaction and here we are,” he said.

With that satisfaction came the Jones Creek shop in July and a growing following of doughnut fans.

“I’m slowly expanding hours and menu offerings to try and build it,” Herman said. “So here I am, coming up with ideas for maple-bacon king cake.”

The shop will also offer a traditional king cake that will use a sweet pastry dough in addition to the maple-bacon confection, which Herman said uses a doughnut dough fried and topped with maple frosting, rendered bacon fat and bacon pieces.

“The outer part of the king cake gets kind of crispy from the fryer,” Herman said.

The self-taught doughnut baker and LSU graduate said the maple-bacon king cake is really more of a breakfast cake, but is done in a braided circle like a traditional king cake. Herman’s king cakes are special-order only, and he said the easiest way to do that is on the shop’s Facebook page, http://www.facebook.com/TigerDeauxnuts.

With the doughnuts’ — and now the king cake’s — word-of-mouth success, Herman said he hopes to grow even more in the new year.

While Cochon Butcher is offering individual king cakes, food blogger Aimee Broussard’s downsized the traditional treat even more. She made it into a cookie that took the Dixie Crystals Bake Off cake.

“I took a praline recipe and a snickerdoodle recipe and combined the two,” Broussard, 34, of Baton Rouge, said of her entry into the Dixie Crystals Bake Off Contest at the Mixed Food Blogger Conference Nov. 30 to Dec. 2 at Mountain Lake Resort in Virginia.

“I wanted a cookie that no one else was going to enter,” she said. “Maybe I can make the top three by sheer, ‘That’s an over-the-top cookie.’”

Judges agreed, and not only did Broussard make the top three, she won, walking away with a $500 Visa gift card and, as a finalist, her tickets to the conference were paid.

Broussard said her decision to make king cake cookies hinged on a desire for a unique cookie that also represents her home state of Louisiana.

“For people who’ve never had king cake, it’s pretty close,” Broussard said.

She said that during the bake-off, she handed out Mardi Gras beads but drew the line at including a baby. The cookies for the judges ended up being bite-sized, “so the baby would’ve had to be microscopic,” she said.