The pastry I bite into, has a heart of silky vanilla ganache enrobed in decadent chocolate mousse and finished with satisfying pecan crumble, before all being dunked into crunchy milk chocolate. The textures and flavours are at once surprising and satisfying. Surprising because the vanilla ganache has a lovely smokey note to it, a rather unusual flavour when it comes to dessert.
But then again, nothing about the desserts at Ecstasy is usual. The brainchild of French chef Mickael Besse, the patisserie has been dishing out exquisite desserts for a decade now in the driveway of Sathyam Cinemas.
It might be recalled that it was under Besse that food at SPI Cinemas underwent a transformation more than a decade ago, thereby changing the way food at cinemas is perceived in Chennai. From popcorn and puffs, which were staples, movie-goers are now spoilt for choice with cream-filled donuts, freshly-made chaats and ice cream.
Now, you can order the 100 ml of Smoked Vanilla, as well. A dessert specially created by Besse to celebrate 10 years of Ecstasy, it was unveiled at a master class he conducted recently.
“Even when we launched Ecstasy, it was an unusual concept,” says Besse. “It was an attempt to move fine French desserts out of a star hotel and give more people an opportunity to try them. Back when we started Ecstasy, eating pastries was not an inherent habit in India. So it was sort of defying market logic. But we’re still here 10 years later and we still enjoy what we do. So I guess it worked out well.”
The chef loves to play with food; 100 ml of Smoked Vanilla is a result of this experimentation. “Back in my country, we smoke salmon. I decided to use that technique and smoke vanilla instead to incorporate in a dessert. I know it’s unusual to do so. But smoked vanilla has a distinct flavour profile and will be a surprise for people,” he says.
Besse has also rejigged over 50% of Ecstasy’s menu. It now includes not only classic Flaks and Tiramisus, but also delicacies such as Grand Marnier Croquantes, Guanaja Le Chocolatier and The Textured Glass among others.
“When we launched Ecstasy in 2007, it was an experiment. Now, however, we’re looking to provide our guests new experiences. For instance, we now have what we call the Blind Date cake. The guest will have no idea what he/she is being offered till they actually eat it. This we plan to change every two months,” he says.
Besse is happy to make his annual trips to Chennai, to refresh the menu and train his team. ‘It’s a second home now,” he says, “I may come only once a year, but I am in constant touch with the team. It is unfortunate that I don’t have the time to come more often.”