No, I haven’t made chocolate my religion yet, although that’s probably coming before too long. The Sanctuary is actually the name of an old church turned art gallery which happens to house the cafe where Ghyslain Maurais sell his chocolates and pastries. Of course, I didn’t know any of this when I first heard of Ghyslain.
A friend of mine does some freelance work for a magazine. As some sort of corporate gift, his boss got a box of Ghyslain chocolates. Knowing of my love for all things cocoa, he asked if I’d ever heard of them. When I expressed my ignorance of a chocolatier practically in my backyard, he told me to check them out online, which I did.
From the moment I clicked on the chocolate link, I was intrigued. The candies themselves are beautiful. Unlike most of the art which hangs in the Sanctuary, these little bundles of sugar are works of art. Just going in to the gallery, I was mesmerized. I was so excited about the individual chocolates that I almost forgot the true purpose of our visit: the pastries!
My BFF and I have birthdays about a week apart. So every year, as part of our celebration, we have at least one big day out. This year I was not only celebrating my birthday, but also my first real girls’ day out since my daughter was born. Well, not just my first girls’ day out, really it was my first time out without a child in nearly two months. I definitely needed some adult time.
We started off with brunch at a fancy cafe we both just discovered and love. Next, we got manicures and pedicures. Since we had some time to kill, we headed over to the mall to pamper ourselves with some treats from the Body Shop. Then, to round off our day, we made our way to the Sanctuary for dessert.
After purusing the menu, I was a bit sad we hadn’t chosen to make the cafe our lunch spot. The sounded wonderful and the plates I saw on neighboring tables looked tasty. We vowed to come back again to try out the real food, but we knew never took our eyes off the prize: dessert.
We had a rather late reservation, so the dessert case, which usually stocks about three dozen different pastries, was fairly empty. Still, it wasn’t easy to decide. I had it narrowed to two: Sacher, which is “a decadent combination of fresh raspberry puree and dark chocolate mousse layered on raspberry infused chocolate genoise” and one that had a slightly mythological sounding name I can’t quite remember which was a sweet, buttery tart shell filled with key lime custard and topped with a berry mousse dome, centered with an almondy coulis. Glazed with a berry mirror. Finished with dark chocolate decorations.* I hemmed and hawed about it, but finally gave in and went for the one with the glazed berry mirror:
Now, I realize the actual dessert had very little chocolate in it, but it was so pretty to look at, and the berries were calling me. The little “disk and straw” on top of the dessert are made entirely from white chocolate, which just amazes me. The dessert is a work of art, right down to the decorations on top of it. And, the disk and straw were rich and creamy, just like good white chocolate should be.
As for the actual dessert, I can say without a doubt, it is one of the top 5 desserts I’ve ever eaten. Every bite was a little bit of heaven! The key lime custard was light and perfectly tart. It reminded me a bit of the center of the Godiva key lime truffles, but it was even lighter and airier. The berry mousse in the middle was sweet, but not overly so. It reminded me of fluff. It was whipped perfectly and practically melted on my tongue. The almondy center was not very noticeable and only added a slight crunch, which despite what it may seem at first, was not an odd texture at all. It blended. The top glaze didn’t actually have much of a flavor, but it looked so pretty I could hardly fault it. Each bite was so good that for once, I actually managed to finish a “meal” after my BFF, who generally takes bird sized bites, which make me feel like a pig.
Now, since this is a chocolate blog, I should mention that I did try one of the chocolate desserts as well. My BFF got the Sicilian, which was loaded with chocolatey goodness. This is a bit of a role reversal for us. While she does like chocolate, she’s usually far more likely to grab something fruity while I devour the cocoa goodies, especially when there is dark chocolate involved. Hers was, “moist chocolate moelleux cake topped with hazelnut custard, praline hazelnut, orange marmalade, pistachio mousse, and covered with dark chocolate ganache. Decorated on the sides with hand painted chocolate squares and finished with chocolate decorations and gold flakes.” I only had one taste of it, but the dark chocolate ganache was rich. It reminded me a bit of brownie batter, which was a real plus since dark chocolate is notorious for being bitter and ganache can often be too thick for my taste. The pistachio mousse was the real star here. Just like it’s berry counterpart, it was light, airy and creamy. I didn’t really taste the orange marmalade or hazelnut, which is for the best since I’m not a huge fan of either. My guess is that the pistachio and ganache just overpowered those flavors in my small bite. Just like my piece though, it was a work of art. The squares on the side of the dessert are hand painted chocolate, which is both tasty and gorgeous!
Before we even left the cafe, we’d decided we had to come back. Next time we plan to be there earlier so we have more pastries to choose from. In the week since we went, I’ve already told half a dozen people about the cafe and urged them to go. I know I don’t want to wait much longer before my next visit. We did get some chocolates on our way out, but that review will have to wait for another post.
Price: 9/10 (each one was $7, which is a bit pricey, but considering the taste, worth every penny. And they are big enough they could be shared…if you are willing to part with the amazingness. I say get your own!)
*not in quotes, b/c I couldn’t find the actual description online
**We did go back and have lunch today. It was GREAT! I had the chicken salad, which was really tasty, as well as a side of southwest sweet potato salad. I also went ahead and got the Sacher, which was amazing. The chocolate was very rich and blended perfectly with the slightly tart raspberry. The raspberry wasn’t overly tart like I usually like, but the chocolate mousse also wasn’t dark, so it blended perfectly. If I hadn’t been so full I could burst, I would have eaten two!
This one is the Carribean, which one of my friends tried. It had the lightest, fluffiest custard filling I’ve ever tasted!