By: Michelle Pressé
Don’t let the ocean air fool you – turn just about any corner in downtown Halifax and you’ll find this city is more sweet than salty.
With a variety of cafés, bakeries, gelato shops and other goodies, Halifax has no shortage of places to curb a sweet tooth.
Whether securing a spot on The Coast’s Best of Halifax list (Humani-T Café), creating some of the prettiest treats in town (Le French Fix Pâtisserie) or being sold inside the bustling Seaport Market (Rawthentic Chocolate), these desserts are sure to leave a good taste in your mouth.
The cold weather hasn’t stopped people from dropping by Humani-T for gelato, says employee Jessica Oliver.
A healthier – and arguably more delicious – version of ice cream, gelato is made with milk rather than cream, with about 70 per cent less fat. It also contains less air than ice cream, meaning you get more bang for your buck (or your scoop).
“We make it all here and everything’s made with the freshest ingredients we can get our hands on,” says Oliver. “We take our time with it.”
Piled high in tubs and decorated with berries, chocolate, cookies and cake, it’s more than just eye candy.
Locals, tourists and students can be found fawning over the intricate flavours at Humani-T’s downtown and North End locations year-round. Oliver says the most popular flavour is sea salt and caramel, closely followed by peanut butter Oreo. Stracciatella, a gelato with chocolate shavings that tastes like a creamy chocolate chip cookie, is another popular choice.
Adventurous flavours like mango curry, honey and fennel, coconut ginger beer and sweet beet have all been on the menu.
Oliver says these are the most complicated to make, but the intrigued looks on customers faces make the concoctions worth it.
“We like to mix things up,” she says. “It’s a good habit, in gelato making and beyond.”
Le French Fix
Parisian and chic, Le French Fix Pâtisserie is full of tarts, eclairs, cakes and flaky croissants. Chef Geoffrey Chevallier’s handcrafted pastries have been such a hit in the city that he offers classes on how to make some of his specialties.
The most sought-after class and treat? Macarons.
“People love the different colours and tastes that come from them,” says Chevallier. “The price is not too expensive either, and it gives people a taste of France.”
Le French Fix Pâtisserie’s macarons cost $1.90 each.
The French classic is a sweet treat that derives from the Italian word macarone, which translates to mean exactly what it’s made of – meringue. Filled with buttercream, ganache or jam, the dainty desserts look pretty enough to spin in the centre of a jewelry box.
While the flavours at Le French Fix Pâtisserie vary every day, the most common are pistachio, hazelnut, sea salt caramel, rose, vanilla and violet. However, depending on the season and Chevallier’s mood, flavours like crème brûlée, pumpkin spice, gingerbread, eggnog rum and Guinness have all been enjoyed by those who step into the shop.
After more than 21 years in the pastry industry, Chevallier says being able to share signature desserts from his native country with Haligonians is his definition of a dream job.
“When you enjoy what you do and it makes people happy, that’s the best,” says Chevallier.
When Chandra Lockhart went on a date in a restaurant in Arizona and tried a piece of natural chocolate, she had no idea it would change her life.
“Love is what got me into the art of chocolate making,” says Lockhart. “And it’s what’s keeping me here.”
Nearly a decade later, the man on the date is gone, but Lockhart’s passion for chocolate and natural products is more alive than ever.
With a stand at the Halifax Seaport Farmers’ Market, the self-proclaimed Love Infuser also sells her products at Pete’s Frootique, online and at the farmers market at Alderney Landing.
Her chocolate is fair trade and free of dairy, gluten and soy, but what makes it different from other chocolatiers is the low heat process used to make the products. Lockhart says chocolate is a superfood due to its amount of nutrients and antioxidants, but loses the majority of its benefits when made in a high-heat process.
While chocolate bars are some of Rawthentic’s best sellers, Lockhart also makes fudge, seed bars, macaroons and chocolate balls. Ingredients such as cayenne, rose petals and lavender buds, infuse her products.
She even sings to the chocolate, which she says gives the products positive energy.
“There’s a lot of magic to it,” says Lockhart. “Especially when you make it