To create the signature éclair at Le Méridien New Orleans hotel, opening next month, pastry chef Johnny Iuzzini tasted sweets all over the Crescent City, and shares his ultimate New Orleans dessert bucket list here.

By Chelsea Morse
Updated May 23, 2017

Pastry chef Johnny Iuzzini has been traveling the world on his motorcycle to gain inspiration for the locally-inspired éclair recipes he's creating for Le Méridien hotels around the globe. In preparation for the opening of Le Méridien New Orleans next month, his most recent reconnaissance trip included a comprehensive tour of the Crescent City's best sweets spots. Here, he shares his favorite ways to satisfy every sugary craving.

1. Doughnuts
District is the place to go for big, pillowy doughnuts. They're proofed to the max, which makes them especially airy.

2. Ice cream
Creole Creamery is my favorite spot for ice cream. They have really interesting flavors like fennel and blood orange sorbet.

3. Sno-balls
Hansen's Sno-Bliz is currently closed for the season but does the best sno-balls in New Orleans. They actually created the ice shaving machine in 1939. They have amazingly fluffy ice and homemade syrups, especially the satsuma flavor, which will ruin you on all other shaved ice.

4. Cannoli
Angelo Brocato is the best Italian bakery in Nola. Italian roots run deep here and this bakery bakes with tradition. They have great cannoli and delicious gelato.

5. Macarons
Sucré has one of the best selections and greatest diversity. Their macarons are top notch as well as all the small cakes, especially the Richoculous and Tiramississippi. They also make some of the best chocolate bonbons I’ve ever tasted.

6. Croissants
Gracious Bakery + Cafe makes truly creative concoctions. The Cruffin (pre-Cronut™) is a croissant-muffin that tears apart like monkey bread. I especially love their everything croissant, with lots of seeds and spices that truly represent both the French and Creole inspirations.

7. Buttermilk drops
Wink's Bakery serves a classic style of doughnut called buttermilk drops, which are basically cake doughnut balls. They were originally made by a favorite local bakery chain called McKenzie's, which is now closed.

8. Calas
For breakfast, Elizabeth’s Restaurant in the Bywater neighborhood makes calas, which are a rice-based, very old-school version of beignets. These are quite different from the popular Café du Monde style.

9. Bread
Bellegarde Bakery does legit bread, which is sold throughout the city at various bakeries.

10. Popsicles
There's no better way to beat the heat in Nola than by getting an artisanal ice pop at Meltdown Popsicles. Super refreshing and made with real ingredients.

11. Composed restaurant desserts
The best restaurant desserts I've found were from one of my protégés Blake Abene at Square Root. Blake is originally from New Orleans, traveled and worked at some of the best restaurants in New York City, and brought those techniques back and applied Nola flavor profiles. Really interesting and always delicious.

12. Unusual restaurant desserts
Coquette. Zak Miller’s flavor combinations are very exciting as he applies them to traditional desserts. He also uses vegetables in many of his creations, which always creates interesting flavors.

13. Chocolate chip cookies
My favorite chocolate chip cookie was not at a bakery – it was at Donald Link’s sandwich shop Butcher. Perfect texture and just the right amount of chocolate chunks.