Armed with just a single, generations-old cookie recipe, Great American Cookies opened its first store in 1977, and the rest is history. Today, the franchise boasts locations in malls across the country and nabbed a coveted spot on Entrepreneur magazine?s 2012 list of Top 500 Franchises in the baked-goods category. The shop?s reputation grew, and so did its menu as chefs churned out a mouthwatering roster of gourmet-cookie recipes, each created and carefully tested in Atlanta. The tempting options now include snickerdoodle, peanut butter with M&M?s, and chewy pecan supreme, as well as freshly baked fudge and cheesecake brownies and cookie sandwiches stuffed with frosting. The real showstoppers, however, are the giant chocolate-chip cookie cakes, which can be customized with sweet, celebratory messages or shopping lists penned in colorful icing.
Domes of vivid fuchsia, blue, and chartreuse arc up out of their white cups, their icy texture a treat for the eyes as well as for the taste buds. Shivering Sam's Snowballs are available in more than 50 flavors, ranging from the traditional (banana, cantaloupe, and coconut) to the completely unexpected (nectar, tiger blood, and dill pickle). But regardless of which you choose, every icy dollop can be customized to hide a generous scoop of ice cream at its core. Other optional add-ons include condensed milk and chocolate syrup, but buried ice cream, according to Sam's staffers, is the hallmark of a truly New Orleans-style snow cone.
They're just as proud of the local elements informing their second menu item: tamales. The newest addition to the Sam's portfolio, these cheesy crowd-pleasers offer a warm, savory alternative to the sweet chill of shaved ice. And they, too, are made New Orleans-style, in part because you can blow into them and play perfect zydeco music.
As the world's largest chain of ice cream specialty stores, Baskin Robbins uses a network of over 7000 stores to supply customers with a bevy of customized cakes and specialty ice cream such as Brownie Sundaes. A host of a toppings cover cupped or sugar-coned scoops of classic flavors, while beverages such as the Cappuccino Blast Mocha combine energizing cappuccino with dessert indulgence.
It's no small feat to whip up one of The Olive Branch Café's gourmet pizzas. The painstaking process begins long before lunchtime, with chefs preparing dough fresh for the day each morning. There's barely a moment to rest before orders begin flying in and the pizza makers spring into action, showering crusts with housemade sauces and high-quality cheeses. Their brows furrowed in concentration, their hands blurs, they layer pizzas with fresh garlic, sun-dried tomatoes, and fine spanish olives. Once the pies arrive triumphantly to the dining room, the chefs turn their attention to thick muffuletta subs, plump meatball calzones, and the jambalaya pastas that caught the attention of Gambit’s Best of New Orleans guide.
Out in the casual dining room, beneath warm red walls peppered with abstract art, guests clink glasses, feeling more content than a robot in a microchip factory. There, owner Russell "Rusty" Autry often strolls around the room, greeting newcomers and exchanging jokes with regulars.
Fourteen of Tutti Frutti's treasure trove of frozen-yogurt flavors grace the shop's daily selection of desserts, chilling taste buds and flecking tongues with a choice of more than 50 toppings. The staff prepares the self-serve, pay-by-weight yogurt in a choice of tart or creamy flavors that complement the selection of fruit, nut, and candy toppings. Tutti Frutti encourages democratic principles by allowing every patron to create and enjoy their own delectable masterpiece without having to smudge self-portraits onto fruit roll-ups. The roster of cold treats has included kiwi, peach, and red velvet, and the probiotic-filled yogurts offer a healthier iced alternative than traditional ice creams. Tutti Frutti, like an airline, maintains an international presence, only serves peanuts to augment the enjoyment of its primary service, and offers outdoor seating.
Southern Sweet Potato Pie Company specializes in creating authentic, freshly baked New Orleans desserts made with all-natural ingredients and steeped in old family recipes and Deep South flavors. Surprise your taste buds and their sweet teeth frenemies with the Ooey Gooey cake, an 8"x11.5" two-layered palate-approving confection. The bottom layer is a bastion of buttery yellow cake, smoothed with a top layer of decadent cream cheese and powdered sugar, and filled with a middle layer of flirtatious yet chaste demeanor. The cake is frozen to maintain its quality and can be easily thawed before serving.