When I first moved to New Orleans, I was excited to be moving to new, unexplored ice cream territory. New flavors, new experiences, new beginnings. But during the two months I have been living here, making it around to all of the local ice cream shops has been slow-going. Why? Well for one, there are a lot of them! Put that together with moving, unpacking, painting, working my day-job and making my own ice cream each week, lets just say that I have been busy.
I started my ice cream exploration during a “moving trip” to New Orleans in July. During this trip, I had the chance to stop by Sucre, a confection and gelato shop, for a sweet treat. I tried the Blood Orange sorbet (which was in season at the time) and it hit the spot on a HOT July day. Great, bold flavor. Since the move, I have not had the chance to return to the shop to try the gelato and other treats…until now.
Joel Dondis, founder and owner of Sucre, recently read about about my ice cream blog and invited me and my husband to tour the Sucre confection studio. What an exciting opportunity! I was very eager to learn more about the gelato making process (and possibly taste some gelato).
My husband and I arrived at the confection studio on a gorgeous Saturday afternoon and were greeted by Joel. He started our tour in a large room used to prepare and hold chocolates. The room was not being used over the weekend, but there were still plenty of great smells in the air and chocolates in racks for us to see (and try). The Avery chocolates were my favorite. They are the perfect combination of salty and sweet, with oozing caramel goodness in the middle.
We then moved into the area I would consider the baking studio. Tariq Hanna, executive pastry chef, was busy shaping a large sheet cake, while other staff were preparing and decorating cakes. Although he was busy, Tariq took the time to share some information about the art of cake making. We also had the chance to watch him air brush a cake.
We moved into another room where chocolate was being tempered and dried. The large tempering machine was mixing and warming the chocolate, throwing the smell of chocolate into the air…I could have bathed in it! It looked so rich and smooth. Joel explained that the confection studio is kept at a consistent temperature and humidity level to keep the chocolates and cakes “happy” (good consistency and appropriate moisture content). One of the pastry assistants was busy decorating the chocolate molds with the bright colors you see on the finished products.
Macarons were not being made when we were in the building, but we did spy a rack of freshly made strawberry macarons. (I previously bought a box and they are very good…check out a picture here).
Next, we got a long look at the gelato making process. The gelato maker was busy preparing the gelato when we walked in the door. Joel prides himself on using the freshest, local ingredients in his gelato. He feels that fresh ingredients are important because they play a large role in the final flavor of the product (I agree). We smelled the raw sugar from plantations in Franklin, Louisiana. The sugar had a rich, molasses smell that permeated the room as soon as the tub was opened. Joel explained that the sugar is combined with local milk from Smith Creamery (Mount Hermon, LA) and other ingredients to make the final gelato base. The base is then pasteurized for safety. Once pasteurized, other flavors are added to the base (as needed) and then it is placed in the gelato machine.
After mixing in the machine, the gelato is extruded from the machine and the gelato maker carefully layers the gelato into large containers (these are the containers that you see when you go to the gelato store). Toppings are mixed in depending on the flavor. The gelato is then ready for eating! Yum! Gelato really is the best right after it comes out of the machine. We had the chance to try the yogurt flavor (great tangy taste), the brown butter pecan (my favorite of the day), and the peanut butter crunch (with fudge and big pieces of butterfinger…OMG).
After filling our stomachs, we sat down and talked to Joel about his confections, gelato, and business philosophy. He was a very friendly and gracious host who was willing to answer all of our questions. We left the studio that day with smiles on our faces and a sugar rush…it was worth every bite!
I would definitely recommend a trip to Sucre for anyone who enjoys tasty, thoughtfully prepared, sweet treats. The gelato has an excellent, smooth texture with a burst of flavor in every bite. The chocolates and other confections are made with care and made by people who are really passionate about what they do. Stop in next time you are walking along Magazine street!
3025 Magazine Street
New Orleans, LA 70115