KENT, Conn. -- If life is like a box of chocolates, as Forrest Gump's mother famously observed, then heaven must be like a box of chocolates from Belgique. Even the shop -- a bright yellow former carriage house at the junction of Routes 7 and 341 in this northwest Connecticut village -- looks as if it should be tied up with a satin bow.
Pierre Gilissen , a Belgian chef, pâtissier , and chocolatier, cooked for the Dutch embassy in Washington before he and his wife, Susan, opened Belgique here in 2000. While Gilissen's breads and pastries (most notably a cake of bitter chocolate ganache surrounded by almond sponge) could make any sweets-lover swoon, the treasures of the shop are his handcrafted chocolates.
Gilissen prefers to call his bonbons ``pralines," which means something very different in Belgium than the nut-and-caramel confections ubiquitous in the American South. The fillings range from finely ground hazelnuts blended with chocolate to luscious concentrations of fruit (raspberry, passion fruit, orange liqueur) suspended in ganache or buttercream. For the final coating, Gilissen chooses milk, dark, or white chocolate to complement the flavor of the filling.
Such treats don't come cheap. They are $51 per pound, which translates to 35-40 pralines or truffles. But each morsel represents the poetry of chocolate: so concentrated that it should be savored very, very, very slowly.
Belgique Pâtisserie & Chocolatier, 1 Bridge St. (Routes 7 and 341), Kent, Conn. 860-927-3681. Thursday-Saturday 9 a.m.-6 p.m., Sunday 10-6.