Food Artisans: Sucre Mort

Food Artisans

A different New York artisan every week.


[Photograph: Stephanie Klose]

"After Katrina, there was a movement to get back in the kitchen and revive some of those quintessential New Orleans foods," Lauren Clark of Sucre Mort says. The sugar-and-butter confection that is a classic praline—and that's PRAH-leen, not PRAY-leen—is one of those foods generally associated with the Big Easy.

Clark, a New Orleans native, uses her grandmother's tried and true recipe for Sucre Mort's pecan-laden original variety, while the other flavors like spicy hazelnut and sea salt and almond come courtesy of Clark's business partner, Dosia Sanford. Sanford has "a wild, wonderful approach to cooking," Clark says, "She's always the one to say, 'What if we added some coconut?' or whatever else."

The company's name is a nod to "the vibrancy of the French language in New Orleans," Clark says, and has a double meaning. "It refers to the bliss of eating sugar," she says, "that feeling when you've had too much and are just bouncing off the walls." She adds, "but the process of cooking a praline is literally killing the sugar, you're burning it. So, sugar death, dead sugar—it's both concepts equally." (Anyone familiar with the idiom la petite mort could posit another interpretation too. And very well might want to after indulging in a praline or two.)

Sucre Mort is currently sold exclusively at By Brooklyn. The partners are looking for more retail outlets and developing additional flavors with ingredients including toasted coconut, candied ginger, candied citrus peel, and elderflower, but Clark says it's unlikely they'll want to scale up the operation too much. "Right now, it's just me and Dosia standing around the stove and telling ghost stories and stirring. We like that. We just want to keep making pralines just as well and as wildly and as long as we can."