SATISFY THAT SWEET TOOTH WITH THE IRRESISTIBLE TREATS THAT MAKE NEW ORLEANS THE MOST FAMOUS FOOD CITY IN THE WORLD
New Orleans is known for many things, including parades, music, drinks, and creole cuisine. One of the best indulgences in the city, which is often overlooked, is its vast array of sweets ranging from simple yet delicious sugary morsels to decadent flambéed desserts of art.
The classic desserts of New Orleans reflect the city’s rich and diverse cultural history and offer distinct, prolific flavors unrivaled by any other place in the world. The city’s African, French, German, Irish, Sicilian, Spanish, and Vietnamese influences have uniquely defined all things New Orleans.
Traditionally, some of the city’s most iconic treats were seasonal, like king cakes on Mardi Gras and Sicilian pastries and fig cookies on St. Joseph’s Day. However, Thanks to bakeries and pastry shops like Randazzo’s, Angelo Brocato’s, and the James Beard Award-winning Dong Phuong, visitors can enjoy king cakes and pastries year-round.
From Pralines to Bananas Foster and everything else in between, here are the best sweets in New Orleans.
One of the most decadent desserts in New Orleans is Bananas Foster. The dessert is available at many New Orleans restaurants, most famously Brennan’s Restaurant, and is usually prepared at one’s table.
Bananas Foster consists of bananas bathed in a rich sauce of banana liqueur, brown sugar, butter, cinnamon, and dark rum, which is flambéed and served with ice cream. A combination fit for a king or queen.
The flambéed dessert was created at Brennan’s Restaurant in the 1950s and quickly became the city’s must-try sweet experience. Brennan’s reportedly goes through 35,000 pounds of bananas every year.
New Orleans bread pudding might not be the fanciest or flambéed like Bananas Foster, but it is rich and robust with flavors. It’s a truly classic New Orleans dessert, and every grandma has her own recipe.
The comforting bread pudding is typically made with day-old french bread cut into cubes. The bread is soaked in milk, eggs, sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg and then baked. Later, it’s topped with a sauce made of either caramel or bourbon.
Every traditional New Orleans Party must have a Doberge cake. The dessert comprises seven layers of white or yellow cake with six layers of pudding and is covered generously with icing — usually chocolate or lemon.
The New Orleans icon is an adaptation of the Hungarian dessert, Dobo Torte, which József C. Dobos created in 1885. The dessert was reinvented as Doberge Cake in New Orleans by Beulah Ledner, who came from a family of Hungarian-Jewish immigrant bakers.
New Orleanians have been enjoying sugary, creamy pralines since the mid-1700s. The French-rooted dessert is a mixture of sugar, butter, cream, and pecans melted together and cooled into cookie-like disks. The candy treat was initially made with almonds but later incorporated more readily available pecans.
Pralines are available all over New Orleans, but some of the best-known candy stops include Aunt Sally’s Praline Shop, Leah’s Pralines, Southern Candymakers, Laura’s Candies, and Loretta’s Pralines.
No trip to New Orleans is complete without experiencing the simple pleasure of a bag of beignets. The fried, fluffy square-shaped doughnuts covered in powdered sugar were made famous at Café du Monde and have been a staple since 1862.
Of course, like many of New Orleans’ classic sweet treats, beignets are available in restaurants across the city, and people can even buy beignet mixes to make their own. However, part of the charm of these messy breakfast delights is having powder sugar fights with friends and family. A cup of café au lait with the beignets is also necessary to complete the experience.
New Orleans is rich with Italian and Sicilian heritage. The early immigrants introduced the people of New Orleans to their cooking style and flavorful pastries.
“Believe it or not, by 1915, 80 percent of the French Quarter was actually Italian,” says Enrico Villamaino, a historian at the American Italian Cultural Center in downtown New Orleans. “It was known as Little Italy or Little Palermo.”
One of the go-to places for biscotti, cannolis, and fig cookies in New Orleans is Angelo Brocato. The shop originally opened in 1905 in the French Quarter but is now located in the Mid-City neighborhood.
Another sweet contribution by the Italian immigrants is Roman candy. Sam Cortese began selling the candy from a mule-drawn cart in 1915. Today, the business, The Roman Candy Company, is run by Cortese’s grandson, Ron Kottemann.
Roman candy is a long thin stick of chewy taffy and is available in vanilla, chocolate, and strawberry flavors. The original mule-drawn wagon is still operational and can be seen across the city, including the Audubon Zoo.
New Orleans’ signature sweet is, without a doubt, a king cake. The Mardi Gras classic is a round, cinnamon-filled braided cake topped with icing and green, purple, and yellow colored sugar. A little plastic baby is hidden inside the king cake, and whoever finds the baby must buy the next king cake.
During Mardi Gras, king cakes can be found in stores across the city and are made with a vast selection of additional fillings, including lemon, chocolate, cheesecake, pecan praline, and more. While traditionally a Mardi Gras treat, king cakes are available year-round at several bakeries like Randazzo’s.
Stay at the Jung Hotel & Residences
One of the best ways to sample New Orleans’ classic desserts is by staying at a hotel in the middle of it all. The Jung Hotel & Residences is ideally situated near the Canal Streetcar line, allowing easy accessibility. Make a reservation at the Jung Hotel today, and taste the sweet side of New Orleans.