Whether you pronounce it “doe-berj” or “dough-bash,” doberge cake is likely one of the most appreciated and desired, locally-invented dessert that’s perfect for almost any special occasion. A lot of outsiders, no matter how many times they’ve visited New Orleans, don’t even know about this many-layered, custard-filled wonder … and how could they? Unless they are visiting a local on their birthday or anniversary, which just happens to be accompanied by this traditionally half lemon, half chocolate delicacy, the chances are slim to none.
To make it even more difficult, if a visitor did want to try doberge, they might feel the only way would be to purchase a whole cake! Not only would it set them back $50 or more, who can eat a whole doberge cake by themselves? Okay, to be perfectly honest, I do know a few people who could be induced to gorge themselves on doberge (myself included), but an entire cake might be pushing it. Thankfully, there are a few solutions for those desperate for doberge, solutions that offers a sinful taste of this local treat, without forcing you to buy the whole cake (and eat it, too!).
One would likely be shunned from the Nola “in crowd” if they failed to mention Gambino’s Bakery when discussing doberge. Open for over 60 years, Gambino’s offers cake-lovers a taste of the original. Back in 1946, Joe Gambino bought the name and recipe straight from its origins, a woman named Beulah Levy Ledner of St. Rose, Louisiana. Ledner adapted her recipe from the Hungarian “Dobos Torte” and the rest, as they say, is history. Stop into the “old-school” bakery on Veterans Avenue in Metairie and with mere pocket change, you can indulge in Gambino’s doberge petit fours for only 99¢ each! Try lemon, chocolate or caramel … heck! At that price you can try all three!
Another classic bakery in Metairie known for its decadent doberge would have to be Maurice French Pastries. Although it hasn’t been around as long as Gambino’s, locals respect owner Jean-Luc Albin’s baking prowess making Maurice’s a definite go-to for gateau. With two locations, one on Hessmer and the other on West Napoleon, you double your chances for their doberge squares, which are slightly larger than petit fours and only $1.50 each. Stop into either location and try all their flavors including lemon, chocolate, vanilla, caramel and strawberry. But, if you order ahead, you can delve into some not-so-traditional tastes like Irish cream, amaretto, praline, chambord, chocolate truffle and tiramisu.
If the petit fours are simply not enough, there is another way to sample this sinful dessert. Trot on down to Mid-City to Toups’ Meatery on North Carrollton Avenue for carnal, carnivore’s meal … including dessert! Toups taps local baker Debbie Does Doberge for her specialty versions of this classic, Crescent City cake. Save room for a piece of Salted Caramel, Peanut Butter and Bacon Doberge. This huge slice of sweetness will only set you back six bucks! You can also find Debbie’s cakes at Katie’s Restaurant & Bar on Iberville Street. Feel free to try a slice of whatever flavor happens to be on the menu for only a few dollars more. Debbie’s creativity with doberge seems to be boundless as she has offered everything from key lime and root beer float to sweet potato pancake or watermelon and blueberry.
*Article originally published in the December 2014 issue of Where Y’at Magazine