There are so many factors that make New Orleans special — its history, culture, resilience, people and, of course, food. While the Big Easy is home to fried chicken and dumplings, biscuits and po’ boys, it’s also a haven for those looking to indulge in some sweet treats. Without further ado, here are four desserts you shouldn’t miss in NOLA.
Visitors with a sweet tooth and an appetite for history should make a beeline to much loved New Orleans establishment, Angelo Brocato. Often shortened to the more familiar “Brocato’s,” this ice cream establishment has stood the test of time since its founding in 1905, weathering numerous moves throughout the Big Easy — and even the destructive flood waters of Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Founded by an enterprising and ice cream loving Sicilian immigrant of the same name, the shop is now run by the founder’s grandson and a host of other family members. Today, the shop sells a host of gelati, cannoli, traditional desserts and cookies, but its oldest offering — torroncino (almond and cinnamon gelato) — and its most popular — lemon ice — are both worth a taste (or two).
Café du Monde
You’ll find no more distinguished or illustrious inhabitant of the Big Easy than famed Café du Monde. Located on Decatur Street, this original French market stand has churned out much savored sweet treats and café au laits since its inception in 1862. Open 24 hours a day, this location is consistently packed with visitors looking to sample its legendary sweet coffee and its prime attraction — beignets. If you’re unfamiliar, beignets are pockets of fried dough that are served hot and then generously covered with pillows of powdered sugar. Initially introduced to Louisiana by the ancestors of French colonists and Native peoples (commonly known as the Acadians), the sweet treats have become a fixture of New Orleans cuisine, and locals, travelers and big name celebrities alike have congregated at Café du Monde to enjoy its pillowy delicacies. An order here comes with three doughnuts, so come with an empty stomach!
If our word isn’t good enough, consider that Willa Jean, a joint venture by acclaimed chefs Kelly Fields and Lisa White, averages a 4.5 star review from nearly 2,000 diners. Pretty good, huh? While the dessert menu at this charming New Orleans establishment isn’t incredibly extensive, what’s available is done perfectly. Don’t believe us? Go and see for yourself — their chocolate chip cookies are studded with chunks so large they look like diamonds in the rough, and the whole affair is served with vanilla milk, bringing that after-school comfort food to a sophisticated place. In NOLA? In the mood for cookies, banana pudding and red velvet cake after a hearty meal of biscuits and fixins? Now you know where to look.
New Orleans’ rich cultural history is underscored by the groups that established the area and chose to make it home. No group has had more influence on the musical, cultural and culinary bent of the city than the French Creole community. So it’s them we have to thank for the miraculous little disk-shaped sweets that are pralines. At Aunt Sally’s, a community staple since 1935, the pralines are crafted from a carefully guarded family recipe that involves Louisiana pecans, milk, sugar, patience and a whole lot of love. Crispy and then creamy, Aunt Sally’s unspeakably good pralines may have you coming back for more several times over the course of your visit.
Did we miss anything? Let us know about your favorite dessert in the Big Easy.