King Cake King 2012 crown goes to the pecan praline at Manny Randazzo

king-cake-king-2012.jpgThe winner of the 2012 King Cake King contest is the pecan praline made by Manny Randazzo.

Let’s not beat around the bead-covered bush any longer. Our panel of tasters has placed the 2012 Times-Picayune/ King Cake King crown on the pecan praline king cake at Manny Randazzo King Cakes in Metairie.

“Delicious. It’s like a good praline crossed with a caramel cake,” wrote one of the judges. Another commented, “I would buy this and eat it in one sitting.”

For six weeks, panels of judges from The Times-Picayune and the food and arts communities tasted and scored cakes at each of six bakeries, which readers selected as their favorites in our online polls.

We traveled to Nonna Randazzo's Bakery and Caffe, Haydel's Bakery, Gambino's Bakers, Manny Randazzo King Cake, Sucre and Randazzo's Camellia City Bakery.

More than 20,000 votes were cast in the poll. The people spoke, and they did not steer us wrong. Thank you to all who participated.

King cake king prize awarded to Manny Randazzo: video The Times-Picayune presented Manny Randazzo and his staff with the award for the 2012 king cake king for his pecan praline king cake Wednesday morning at his Metairie bakery. Watch as the family and staff receive the news that their king cake won the six-week contest.
In the end, it was a very close race. The judging proved that there are excellent king cakes at all these bakeries — and really, why would they all be so popular if that were not the case?

Three cakes were taste-tested at each bakery (except for Sucre, which makes only one kind of king cake); the six top-scoring cakes were ranked against each other. Less than 1.5 points separated the top three king cakes.

In addition to point totals based on criteria including taste, appearance and texture, judges also were asked to rank the sweetness of the king cakes that were tasted.

Haydel’s Cream Cheese King Cake was ranked the least sweet; the sweetest was the Turtle King Cake at Randazzo’s Camellia City Bakery. Check out a list of FAQs about the judging process.

Judges also were asked if they would spend their own money on the king cakes they tasted.

The judges answered unanimously in the affirmative for only two of the king cakes: the one from Sucre, and Manny Randazzo’s Pecan Praline.

More: King Cake Quest FAQs

Best of the rest: Top-rated king cakes from the other five bakery finalists

Look for much more on Thursday about the King Cake King quest, including Randazzo's reaction, on and in The Times-Picayune Food pages on Thursday.