From glorious cakes and pies to humble cobblers, these treats grace Southern tables with their sweet showstopping goodness. State by State and slice by slice, these are some of the South’s sweetest treats. Want even more State Dessert action? Pick up our March/April Issue online or on newsstands today! In our first Travel Foodie issue, you’ll find over 118 local favorites, including places to eat and dishes to savor, from all across the South.
Georgia: Peach Desserts
Georgia’s dedication to peaches is well known—they name pageants after them, host festivals, and even have a statue of one in the state’s capital, Atlanta. And for good reason—what could be better in the summertime than a ripe, juicy peach? But while we love a tasty, fresh-picked peach, we can’t discount the magic that happens when you add a little butter, sugar, and heat. We can’t decide on the best way to have them, though—the beautiful, upstanding peach pie, or its more casual cousin, peach cobbler? With a flaky, golden crust and a sprinkle of sugar, we’re inclined to think you can’t go wrong either way.
Louisiana: Bananas Foster vs. Beignets
Let’s face it—Louisiana is known for so many desserts it’s hard to narrow the list. We’re down to two that we think best represent the state: Bananas Foster, the saucy, sweet, rum-and-liqueur-drenched dessert of tableside flambéed fame, or beignets, the more street-wise powdered French doughnuts that hold a place in our hearts and have dusted spots onto all our dark outfits. Bananas Foster was actually created in New Orleans, by Brennan’s Restaurant’s chef, Paul Blangé, in 1951. At the time, the port in New Orleans saw a large number of bananas shipped from Central and South America, and owner Owen Brennan asked Blangé to put the available ingredient to use. The resulting dish was named after Owen’s friend, Richard Foster, who was a part of a civic effort to clean up the French Quarter. Beignets, however, speak to the history of the state; its French culinary heritage is a huge part of its culture today. These deep fried pastries are a must when visiting New Orleans, and a way of life for another well-known French Quarter spot, Café Du Monde.
Mississippi: Mississippi Mud Pie
Likened to the rich dark silt of the banks of the Mississippi River, the Mississippi Mud Pie is layer upon layer of sumptuous chocolate. With a chocolate crust, flourless chocolate cake layer, and chocolate pudding layer, this dense dessert is all a chocolate fan could ever hope for. It is believed to have been created after World War II, when a preference for convenience foods made desserts that did not require specialized cooking tools or techniques all the rage. Often served with a whipped topping or even ice cream, this gooey confection calls for a glass of milk the size of the mighty Mississippi to wash it down.
Virginia: Chess Pie
An early addition to the New World, Chess Pie was brought over from England and was popular in colonial settlements in Virginia. This custard pie is made with eggs, butter, sugars, and—the thing that sets it apart from other custards—cornmeal. There are many differing explanations of how the dessert came by its name—for example, it could have come from the term “pie chest,” where one would store a pie, or it could even be a corruption of “cheese,” as the custard-like mixture is not too far removed from cheesecakes that were popular at the time. Either way, this simple pie has become a Southern dessert mainstay, probably due to its simplicity and easy-to-find ingredients, though we’re sure the Southern sweet tooth had a good bit to do with it.