By Jessica Dyer / Of the Journal
UPDATED: Monday, April 28, 2014 at 12:20 pm
PUBLISHED: Monday, April 28, 2014 at 12:05 am
Grace Lapsys has a pretty sweet gig – but not too sweet.
She may be in the candy business, but as a French-trained master chocolatier, she doesn’t want to put anyone into a sugar coma. In fact, customers at her Los Ranchos café and shop, Joliesse Chocolates, often comment that her European-style truffles aren’t powerfully sweet.
“The French (style) is not sugary,” Lapsys says as she ladles a creamy concoction behind Joliesse’s seven-seat counter. “It’s very complex. You have a beginning, middle and ending (flavor).”
It’s a taste that clearly has resonated in Albuquerque. Joliesse, just a year old, is already expanding its N. 4th Street operation. The shop is currently quadrupling in size, absorbing two adjacent suites to create a single 1,800-square-foot space.
The growth gives Lapsys more room to craft her truffles ($2 apiece), toffees, chocolate bars, barks and sculptures and to introduce her own line of pastries and desserts.
The extra space also means additional seating for customers who want to savor a snack and hand-crafted drink – hot chocolate, coffee, tea or lattes – and for students in Joliesse’s chocolate-making workshops ($25-50 per person).
“We started out small and tried to keep our overhead as low as possible,” Grace’s husband Troy Lapsys says of Joliesse’s origins. “We’ve had a continuous and strong retail base, and our workshops have gotten much more popular as people became aware of them.”
Grace Lapsys herself honed her craft far away from New Mexico. She was working in the local film industry and logging long days (and weeks and months) in the art department of various TV and movie productions when she realized she needed a major life change.
Having had a longtime love of baking and chocolate – a typical breakfast in her native Philippines was chocolate, sticky rice and evaporated milk – she decided to enroll in a Canadian chocolate school. She traveled back and forth from Canada for three years to study and intern. That led to further schooling in France, where she completed her master training at the Valrhona school.
“All along, the (instructor) would say, ‘Respect the process,’” she recalls.
The training gave her the confidence and know-how to experiment and blend, Troy says.
“It’s getting it to the point where you start to know what’s going to work on a regular basis and being able to create very incredibly non-intuitive flavors that work so well,” he says.
Among Joliesse’s more unusual truffles are a dark chocolate-piñon-smoked serrano chile combo and a white chocolate-rosemary-pinot noir mix. There are more conventional options, too, like Hawaiian sea salted-caramel in milk chocolate and the dark chocolate pecan butter toffee crunch.
Joliesse remains open during its expansion, 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, noon-4 p.m. Sunday. The owners expect to celebrate a grand reopening in mid-May.
The address is 6855 4th NW. The phone number is 369-1561