You have to hand it to the folks at New Orleans Ice Cream Company. Their vision to leverage the storied New Orleans food culture to produce creative and fun ice cream flavors is brilliant. Café au Lait & Beignets is the iconic French Quarter breakfast. Enjoying piping hot beignets covered with a mountain of powdered sugar alongside café au lait is part of the definitive New Orleans tourist experience. Café au Lait & Beignets (the ice cream) has garnered much attention from it's acclaim on this very website.
Creating an excellent coffee flavor was personally important to Adrian, one of the founders of NOICC, who has a background in the coffee industry with New Orleans Coffee Co. For the café au lait base, a chicory-coffee blend is cold brewed and married with scalded milk. Beignet dough pieces are spiced with cinnamon and liberally scattered throughout the base. Cinnamon is not traditionally found in beignets, here the spice is added to provide depth of flavor. The flavor is finished off with a powerful sugary swirl, adding tremendous sweetness, as powdered sugar does in the real thing.
For those who like sugar on their sugar, this saccharine, caffeinated pint delivers all the sweetness you need. The beignet pieces are more akin to "beignet dough" than beignets. The chewiness the beignet component provides is enjoyable, and while non-traditional, the cinnamon spice works well with the sugared coffee flavor and keeps things interesting. Coffee and donut themed ice cream is one that several companies have tried, and this one is at the top of the heap when it comes to that flavor profile.
New Orleans Ice Cream Company has been expanding distribution, and is becoming more widely available throughout the country. As more people try their ice cream, while some will be motivated to do so by their recollection of the great taste of the real thing, I wonder if the ice cream will inspire those who haven't made it to NOLA to head down south.
Where Elliot Found It: Straub's Market
Elliot's Grade: A