For many of us, the best part of the holidays are the extra-special after-dinner treats. Nothing puts a smile on a loved one’s face like a piece of sugar pie or decadent cheesecake. Every family has its favourite, but at most pastry shops across Montreal, the biggest seller is the Christmas log cake.
At Pâtisserie LaSalle, they produce about 500 log cakes for customers in the week leading up to December 25. They’re a big hit with the local Italian community in the borough.
The log is rolled in chocolate cake and filled with cream inside. It’s topped with another layer of buttercream. It’s served frozen.
« They’re not your traditional Italian dessert, but we’ve added our own special touch. We used to only have two flavours: chocolate and vanilla. Now, we have many others, including Tiramisu, » says owner Nathalie Gavita.
Pâtisserie LaSalle has been a family-run business since the late 1970’s. Gavita and her husband Dario, two proud Italian-Canadians, are the shop’s co-owners. They will be celebrating their business’s 40th anniversary in 2019.
Another popular item during the holidays are traditional lemon cookies called tarallucci al limone. They’re also referred to by other names such as lemon drops or Italian love knots.
« They’re soft and tender and they usually have a lemon sugar glaze on top. They’re very light-tasting. They’re Weight Watchers approved, » says Gavita with a smile.
The tarallucci are often topped with colourful sprinkles.
Almond Praline Bars
The team is also proud of another dessert they call their own: the almond praline bars. They look like the traditional biscotti cookies but these ones are softer and are made entirely of almond paste. The tasty treat also has a hint of hazelnut cream in the middle.
« That cream is to die for. It’s so good. We actually sell the praline bars all year round but they sell more during the holidays. People seem to order it to impress their friends and relatives, » says Gavita.
Of course, when you talk Italian desserts, you have to mention cannoli. The popular tube-shaped dessert is filled with a sweet, creamy ricotta. Pâtisserie LaSalle sells thousands of cannoli during the festive season.
« Everyone that comes to our shop orders the cannoli. It’s a must for every order, » says the co-owner.
The holiday season is a lucrative one for the pastry shop. « It’s pandemonium. We have as many as 15 people manning the front counter. It’s a lot, » Gavita says.
She is looking forward to January when most of the special orders are filled and her bakers can take a much-deserved break.