Laura MacLeod serves us up six heavenly desserts

In Halifax, it seems like there’s always a wicked new chef, an incredibly made dish or a beautiful new space to check out. To us, it seems a shame that in all the hubbub of breakfast, lunch and dinner, dessert gets lost in the shuffle. Pies, tarts, pastries, cake, cookies, ice cream, squares, puddings, custards and more! Why aren’t we paying more attention? Well, we say, NO MORE. No longer shall dessert be ignored, left in the dust of the appetizers and main courses. Whether it’s a sweet treat at the end of a fabulous meal or a pick-me-up in the middle of the afternoon for no reason at all — we’re paying attention. Take The Old Apothecary (TOA) on Barrington Street, for example. Legit pastry chef and owner Laura MacLeod recently celebrated her exquisite bakery’s two-year anniversary, and she gave us six small-but-mighty showstoppers to demonstrate why TOA is such a smashing success.


This pretty little square was originally a specialty item, offered only during Pride Week. “We started doing it for our Rainbow of Desserts, and this was our green dessert, but when I took it off the menu the following week, customers kept asking for it, so we kept it on the menu,” says Laura. We think it’s pretty obvious why TOA’s customers fell in love with the thick and buttery graham crust, tart lime filling and lightly sweetened whipped cream of this pretty little square. But you should probably decide for yourself.


TOA takes this classic British Columbia, no-bake dessert to the next level with thick, even layers of chocolaty coconut crumb and rich yellow buttery icing, all topped off with a sheet of thin dark chocolate. What began as a feature in TOA’s dessert of the month special, this simple gem of a bar is now a regular in the daily roster of goodies.


Layers of crispy, flaky laminated dough embrace a hidden layer of almond cream as thinly sliced local apples crown the top of this homemade delight. Served warm for Saturday morning breakfast with a cup of hot, strong coffee or as a mid-afternoon snack, this lightly sweetened pastry works overtime as a great option for breakfast, snack or dessert.


Yeah, yeah, yeah. We see you, you layer of rich, delicate, crumbly pâte sucrée. And yes, we see you too, you bright, zingy, tangy lemon curd. But JUST LOOK AT THAT ITALIAN MERINGUE. It’s so beautifully piped and softly torched! A bite reveals the creamiest and most luscious texture, like the softest pillow you’ve ever laid your head upon. But better. It’s what our dreams are made of.


The tender sweetened shortcrust is the base of this decadent tart. “The interior filling is a hazelnut cream basically made of pastry cream, hazelnuts and butter, and the top is coffee-infused whipped cream — all very delicious,” Laura says laughing. Something a little different, this tart is a lovely balance of not-too-sweet crust and smooth nutty filling accented with a light, creamy coffee flavour.


There’s no mistaking the oblong shape of a classic French éclair, and TOA’s is a solid example. A sturdy yet airy choux pastry, filled to the brim with velvety vanilla pastry cream, is half cloaked in rich dark chocolate ganache. A simple indulgence, éclairs are the quintessential finish to any meal, whether you’re sitting down to a casual supper or hosting a fancy dinner party.