by Kara Kimbrough
Mardi Gras was canceled, but that hasn’t stopped Paul’s Pastry Shop in Picayune from baking thousands of King Cakes in celebration of the season normally filled with parades and parties. Luckily, Paul’s made thousands of its unique and delicious King Cakes to sell in stores and ship to all 50 states. Planning a Paul’s purchase brought to mind other sweet treats offered by Mississippi restaurants. When given a preference, savory and salty foods are my preference over sweets. But every now and then, I'm tempted by a restaurant’s dessert menu. Here are just a few of the ones that are among my favorites, starting with Paul's.
A fixture in the state since the 1970’s, Paul's is famous for King Cakes and if you’ve ever tasted one, you understand why. Filled with fruit and cream cheese and topped with colored sugars and sliced almonds, they’re a cut above any others I've sampled. Check out Paul’s website at www. paulspastry.com to order one. Or, check your local Ramey’s, Corner Market, Sunflower and Piggly Wiggly, among others. A complete list of stores and shipping details is found on the website.
I call it one of the “seven wonders of the world.” I’m referring to the sky-high meringue topping on pies at Mammy’s Cupboard in Natchez, pictured right I didn’t use a ruler, but I’m estimating the crown on my favorite coconut pie was at least four inches high. To say it was the tallest and most delicious piece of pie I’ve ever tasted wouldn't be an understatement. With a flaky crust, luscious coconut custard filling and lightly browned, melt-in-your-mouth meringue, it should be in the dessert hall of fame.
Another delicious pie is on the menu at Shapley’s in Ridgeland. This modern pie isn’t your grandmother’s version – there’s no meringue, but instead, a generous dollop of fresh whipped cream is topped with a lemon slice. Highlighted with a cool lemony custard base, it’s a pie of which your grandmother would approve.
Full disclosure: I’m not a bread pudding lover. I’ve never been a fan of the sogginess…the pale color…the banal flavor of the dishes I’ve tried. That all changed when I dipped a spoon into Mary Mahoney’s version. A decades-old recipe at the Biloxi eatery produces a bread base that is lightly toasted, not soggy. With a splash of rum sauce and other delicacies, it’s a dish that forever dispelled my disdain for bread pudding.
Unlike bread pudding, I’ve never shied away from a slice of pecan pie. One that never disappoints is on the menu at Char in Jackson. Their version is decidedly homemade – no food service offering at this place. It's filled with crispy pecans and a delicate syrupy filling on a flaky crust. Topped with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, it’s a little slice of heaven on a plate.
You can’t leave Weidmann’s in Meridian without sampling the restaurant’s famous black bottom pie. I don't have the specifics of the modern-day version, but a vintage online recipe lists gingersnaps, scalded milk, custard and chocolate, a dash or two or whiskey and a crown of meringue scattered with chocolate shavings. Today, it’s still decadent, delicious and a must-try ending to any Weidmann's meal.
Last, journey to Hattiesburg for luscious limoncello cheesecake at Tabella and a variety of homemade berry cobblers at Movie Star Restaurant. Sadly, Cotton Blues closed its doors, but the restaurant’s famous cheesecake (pictured right) lives on at supermarkets around the state. Check the website, www.cottonblues.com, for locations.