I had a difficult time going out to eat when I was little. My grandmother used to tell waiters that I wouldn’t eat anything if it didn’t have sprinkles on it; she was right. While I’ve now embraced the savory side of life, I still have a special place in my heart for what E.M. Forster called “the little deadlies” – those pastries, cupcakes and candies that clutter my daydreams and desk drawers. Every girl has a sweet side.
Located on Magazine Street, in what I like to call the gelato district, Sucré is definitely the Tiffany’s of desserts, from their pristine cases of chocolates, macaroons and gelato, to the chic turquoise and pink packaging. Their best-selling pastry is even called The Tiffany, and for good reason. This shiny dome of chocolate mousse and raspberry sponge cake really is a girl’s best friend. Gleaming from the case, it looks similar to a large cut of onyx (and it’s glittery!) and I prayed it wouldn’t be as hard as one. The Tiffany, in her rotund glory, seemed longing to be used as a projectile.
How many times have you encountered desserts that even Joan Crawford couldn’t cut through with her axe? How wrong I truly was. The chocolate shell on the outside is just dazzling camouflage – not hard at all, but rather a soft chocolate icing that smudges at the touch of a finger and gives easily to a fork. The center of the pastry is filled with raspberry gelée, surrounded by chocolate mousse and sponge cake, though it’s hard to imagine there’s cake inside because it’s so smooth and creamy. If you’re a chocolate lover, this dessert is a must-try. At $6, the cost may seem steep to some, but considering that it’s bejeweled with both housemade chocolate and marshmallow, and it took three of us to finish one, most diamond thieves would consider it a big steal.
Located on St. Charles Avenue, next to the Avenue Pub, Pralines by Jean is known for its insanely delicious pralines, but it’s also home to my favorite cupcakes in town. What justifies a good cupcake, to me, is the ability to eat it while driving. But don’t worry, I cram my cellphone between my ear and shoulder for safety. As a kid, I ate grocery store cupcakes by the dozen to fuel my hours-long Super Mario sessions, and I didn’t mind if there was too much icing because I licked it all off first, then ate the cake while downing jugs of Dr. Chek soda. Now, far more refined, I like to eat cake and icing together, so too much icing annoys me because I have to put the cupcake on a plate, which is no fun. The cupcake shouldn’t have to be licked down like an ice cream cone or eaten with a fork. The cupcake is to be unwrapped and eaten by hand. Jean understands this. Jean doesn’t over-ice the cupcakes. Her praline cupcake, with “praline debris,” is a wise way to use up those daily praline scraps and an even wiser choice for your daily dessert, topped with a candied pecan. But this February, my heart belongs to her King Cupcake, a reinterpretation of the King Cake, with soft cinnamon cake cloaked in a vanilla glaze and Mardi Gras sprinkles. A dozen of these little deadlies will make your coworkers swoon with envy at your innovative King Cake offering. Pralines by Jean is also the perfect stop for a take-home dessert after a lunch at the newly revamped Avenue Pub, where J’Anitas recently relocated and dozens of microbrews are now on tap, so we can all work on our beer snobbery while watching the parades.
Further Uptown, located on the outskirts of the Whole Foods vortex, Bee Sweet Cupcakes is a tiny dew-drop of a store with friendly service and bowls of cake batter lingering just beyond the counter. The I Love Lucy cupcake is the one: moist red velvet cake with a decadent cream cheese icing that longs for a good cappuccino. For that, though, you have to head back to the gelato district because La Divina Gelateria is home to the best cappuccino in town.