NEW ORLEANS’ INTERNATIONALLY famous cuisine is decadent and indulgent, mixing the best flavors from its many ethnic influences with the soul of the city.
But in New Orleans, you should leave room for dessert. These seven are among the city’s most famous and most widely available treats.
1. Bread pudding
While not unique to New Orleans, many of the city’s restaurants have perfected their own version of this delicious use for stale bread. At its most basic, the dish involves drizzling melted butter over leftover bread chunks and baking it with sugar, cinnamon, vanilla, beaten eggs and raisins. It’s usually served hot and soaked with rum or whiskey sauce.
You can credit the French for introducing this candy, now ubiquitous in New Orleans. Pecans are suspended in a creamy mixture of sugar and butter that is so rich you probably can’t eat more than one. They’re available, usually wrapped individually, at many gift shops in the city and come in a few varieties like chocolate and rum. If you don’t want to sound like an outsider, say it “praw-leen.”
3. King Cake
While king cake is eaten mostly during the Mardi Gras season, you can find it any time of year if you look hard enough. There are many variations with different fillings, but a king cake is essentially a huge cinnamon roll with sprinkles and generally iced in Mardi Gras colors—purple, green and gold.
Most king cakes have a small plastic baby inside, said to represent the baby Jesus, as Mardi Gras is actually rooted in Catholicism.
It’s pronounced “ben-yay,” which is French for fried dough. This dessert’s charm is in its simplicity, as it’s nothing more than deep-fried dough covered in a mound of powdered sugar. Buy an “order” of three donuts with a cup of café au lait or chocolate milk.
It’s famously available at the bustling French Quarter tent of Café du Monde near the Mississippi River, but there are a few other spots where you can indulge on what many locals call “coffee and donuts.” Just don’t inhale when you take a bite.
5. Doberge cake
No New Orleans birthday is complete without a doberge cake. A New Orleans baker adapted the Hungarian dobos torta and gave it a French-sounding name, and doberge was born. The cake consists of multiple layers of cake and pudding—usually chocolate or lemon—topped with rich icing. Oh, and it’s pronounced “dough-bash.”
Snowballs—or snoballs—are definitely not the same as snow cones. Snowballs are like fresh powder, and the juice doesn’t sink to the bottom of the cup like with crunchy snow cones. The New Orleans-invented SnoWizard machines shave down blocks of ice for the perfect consistency.
Around New Orleans in the summer, snowballs stands are packed. Each offers dozens of flavors, from wedding cake to superman to margarita and more. You can get them “stuffed” with soft-serve ice cream or drizzled with condensed milk. Yum.
7. Roman Candy
Roman Candy, a chewy taffy sold in vanilla, chocolate and strawberry, has been made and sold by the same family since 1915. You can find the original mule-drawn wagon in random places across the city, but your best bet is the Audubon Zoo. Long, thin sticks of the candy sell for 75c and come wrapped in wax paper.