Like a Cupcake Lounge – A Photo Spotlight on Short & Sweet Cupcakes’ Vaughan Location & Megan’s Mocha Madness!

Leave a comment

DSCN9996

While working on my big Cupcake Chronicles feature page today behind the scenes, I realized I never shared my photos of Short & Sweet Cupcakes’ Vaughan location or my photos of their amazingly delicious Megan’s Mocha Madness cupcake with you guys after all this time!  I know this post is a little on the late side given how it’s been about a year since Short & Sweet opened their second location, but Ate by Ate just wouldn’t be complete without a post showcasing their York Region arm in all it’s beautiful cupcake lounge-like glory!

Located at Major Mackenzie Drive West and Dufferin St. within the Eagles Landing complex, the shop boasts a spacious, airy seating area near the back as well as a lovely hot pink seating lounge right by the front window, perfect for enjoying your cupcakes with friends!  They have colourful cupcake artwork on the walls, giftware to purchase up at the front and a big display case for their many flavours of cupcakes.  It’s a fun and fresh space and I really enjoy taking photos of the cupcakes here because the big window lets a lot of nice natural light in.

DSCN9551 (2)

DSCN9553

DSCN9546

And speaking of light, today’s photo spotlight is for one of my Top 5 faves from Short & Sweet, the Megan’s Mocha Madness which is a Friday-only specialty.  I have waited so long to have this.  I have had so many Fridays pass me by without this cupcake in my life because of either work or school or just not being in the area so you can imagine my squealing happiness over this morsel of decadence when I finally got around to having it.  It’s a chocolate cupcake with mocha coffee frosting and chocolate curls on top.  The frosting is one of the most delicious frostings I’ve ever had and this is coming from a girl who doesn’t even drink or like coffee!  It’s one of their best because the chocolate cake is fudgy and moist and the frosting is extremely flavourful and creamy without being overpowering with that bitter coffee aftertaste or too sweet and lacking in depth.

I think they hit the nail on the head with this one and  I wish so much that this was part of their every day roster as opposed to just being available on Fridays because this is a flavour that I could go for time and time again.  Even though I didn’t take these particular photos at their Vaughan location (there’s a reason for that, read on), I wanted to share them anyway since it’s been so long since my last Short & Sweet post.

DSCN9591

DSCN9409

DSCN9592

So, you’re probably thinking, “well, that’s terrific that your favourite cupcake shop opened a location in York Region where you live!”  You’d think that.  But after careful calculations and an experiment with my best friend, I have discovered that it is actually easier for me to get to their Avenue Road shop instead of the one on Major Mackenize!  At least during the weekends.  It’s easy-peasy during the week, but the timing doesn’t jive with a work schedule and boy is it ever awkward on a Saturday.  Unless there’s a car involved or a random weekday I have off, getting here on Saturday would require taking 2 buses (which isn’t the most practical because there’s some doubling back involved) and then walking for another half hour and then finally walking on the side of the road to get into the complex because no sidewalk exists.  But all of this mumbo-jumbo?  Because the most straight-forward transit route to the shop doesn’t run on weekends.

Sigh.  That’s York Region transit for you.

DSCN9604

DSCN9995

DSCN9600

Regardless of the confusing transit issue, I love the Vaughan location for its larger space and I can definitely appreciate the fact that both Ginza Sushi and Yummy Market are both a hop, skip, and jump away!  I’ve been working really hard on the Cupcake Chronicles since Ate by Ate started and it’s been a joy profiling so many shops and tasting all the variety the city has to offer.  I’m hoping to fill in some more holes this year so that we can have photo spotlights on Short & Sweet’s Blueberry Yum Yum in May and Tropic Thunder in June at the very least.  Look out for Valentine’s Day cupcake posts in the coming weeks!

DSCN9588

*****

Short & Sweet Cupcakes serves two locations in the GTA: 1945 Avenue Road (south of Wilson Ave.) in Toronto; open Monday to Saturday from 11am-6pm, closed on Sundays || 1480 Major Mackenzie Drive West (at the corner of Dufferin St.) in Maple, Vaughan; open Monday to Saturday from 12pm-7pm, closed on Sundays.  You can also find their cupcakes at some Aroma Espresso Bar locations!

The Cupcake Connection, Vol. 004 – Short & Sweet Birthday Celebrations, Fashion’s Night Out & New Cupcakeries!

Leave a comment

Cupcakes like these would sweeten anybody’s back-to-school week!

New month, new school year, new season just around the corner, new Cupcake Connection!  I have to tell you, I am SO looking forward to fall and the end of the summer season.  Wearing summer dresses has been nice, but I’m ready to move on to fall flavours, clothes, and refreshing walks through colourful crunchy leaves with a warm cup of tea.  My mind and appetite have already shifted to pumpkin and squash meals, apple desserts, fall markets, and of course, seasonal delights at all the cupcake bakeries!  September is here and that means a whole slew of cupcake news to share to kick off the month and the beginning of the end of the hot and hazy days of summer, so let’s hop to it!

Short & Sweet Cupcakes is all over the cupake news circuit this month!  Not only are they official sponsors for Toronto’s very first Fashion’s Night Out this Thursday, September 6th, 2012 from 6pm-11pm (FNO, a global consumer initiative celebrating its 4th anniversary this year, is dedicated to making shopping an even bigger social and socializing event, creating excitement over fashion collections, designers, and the industry through different shopping events in different cities around the world, and aiming to restore consumer confidence in an economy drowning in recession woes), but they are also celebrating several different milestones of their own! 

This Saturday, September 8th, Short & Sweet will be raising a toast to their 1st birthday at their new location on Avenue Road, their 3rd birthday as a cupcake shop in Toronto, AND the birth of their soon-to-be 2nd store location opening later on this month, located in York Region!  Things have never been more exciting and hopeful for the team, so join in on the celebration and pop on by this Saturday for a cupcake party celebration!  You can view the photos from last year’s grand opening party HERE!

And funny enough, since we’re talking about Short & Sweet, you’ll never guess the type of business that recently moved into their old location at 399 Old Orchard Grove!  Or maybe you will since I’ve made it kind of obvious.  That’s right, a brand spankin’ new cupcake bakery has set up shop in Short & Sweet’s old residence!  Small world, right?  Introducing, Pink Lemon Bake Shop!  As a sister cupcake and cake shop to York Region’s Crumbs & Co., Pink Lemon Bake Shop opened their doors in Toronto for the first time this past June.  I haven’t been to the shop yet (I will get there eventually!), but flavours like blueberry champagne, fudge sundae, brownie fudge, and pink lemon will draw me there soon enough! 

And if that’s not enough to get your heart fluttering, another cupcake bakery and patisserie has waltzed into Toronto this past year (also located in North York), at 3543 Bathurst St., south of Wilson Ave. and the 401.  Walk into Bo-Bon, an East Coast American import from New York and New Jersey, specializing in cupcakes, gourmet marshmallows, meringues, chocolates, and Parisian macarons – all Kosher-certified!  If you’re a fellow “Cupcake Crusader”, definitely check out both shops and check them off your list if you’re looking for more cupcake goodness in Toronto!  It’s only a matter of time before I hit both, so sit tight because posts on both of them will come!

September also means the return of TIFF, the Toronto International Film Festival, and in true glamourous, red-carpet ready style, Le Dolci is holding a special TIFF themed cupcake decorating class on Sunday, September 9th from 4pm-6pm!  I had just started my adventures at old icing sugar towers around the time this class had happened last year and I still remember seeing adorable cupcakes decorated with fondant to resemble movie reels, popcorn buckets, directors’ clapboards, and other cute movie and TIFF related things!  There’s space available, so if you love movies and cupcakes, this class is perfect for you! 

Finally, a new month and a new season just around the corner means new products at DuffletFor a limited time, enjoy two new giant cupcakes at all Dufflet bakeries and cafes: a filled Coconut Dulce de Leche and a filled Luscious Lemon!  Both sound amazing and both are two of my favourite flavours ever!  Not to mention they have fillings!  Dufflet cupcakes are $2.85 each.  Dufflet’s fall beginnings and back-to-school newsletter can be found HERE where a listing of new products and promotions await you!  That’s all for this post, but I’m already so super excited about scoping out fall flavours and seasonal treats for the next Cupcake Connection!

Cupcakes in Richmond Hill! Lemon Creme and Black Forest Cupcakes at the Sweet Pink-and-Brown Crumbs & Co.

2 Comments

It feels so nice to be writing another bright and happy post on cupcakes right now.  After a topsy-turvy week last week where nothing seemed to be going right (I was sick with one of the most painful migraines of my life, which in turn threw me completely off schedule and left me playing catch-up on everything for most of the week), it feels really good to start the week off fresh.  There’s so much I’m working on right now (surprise, surprise, when am I not?!) including the May Food Calendar, several new scrapbook layouts, my new cookie and baking scrapbook project, gearing up for the upcoming spring and summer farmers’ market season, and of course, continuing the Cupcake Tour! 

You all knew this was coming: cupcakes in York Region!  I know I’ve written about Old Firehall Confectionery and their adorable square cupcakes, but don’t forget that Old Firehall is a shop with multiple sweet treats and goodies and not an exclusive cupcake bakery.  After doing 69 posts on cupcakes in Toronto, a cupcake bakery post situated in Markham, Richmond Hill, and all surrounding regions was a long time coming.  I live in Markham for goodness sake!  Why has it taken me so long to do one?  I honestly don’t know.  I have a huuuge hit list and bucket list that will probably never be completely checked off simply because I’m always adding to it, but I always get around to the things I want to do even if it takes some time.  So here we are, with the first cupcake bakery in York Region post, introducing Crumbs & Co.!

Crumbs & Co. is a sweet, adorable little cupcake shop bakery located in the Richmond Heights/Major Mackenzine Village neighbourhood north of Major Mackenzie Ave. West. with two other locations in York Region.  In addition to cupcakes, they sell cookies, macaron gift sets by the dozen, and themed cupcake sets.  As well, they host and cater party events, create custom cakes (branding, logos, weddings, and special events), and even have a Cupcake of the Month Club where members enjoy a special cupcake delivery every month in 3, 6, and 12 month subscriptions! 

There is no shortage of flavours at the shop: 18 flavours of macarons including apricot fig, black currant, mocha, and caramel, and over 25 cupcake flavours including Black Forest, Lemon Creme, cappuccino, chocolate coconut, strawberry shortcake, and so much more.  It’ll take me forever and a half to get through all the flavours I want to try, but I cannot wait for the day I get my sweet teeth into their white chocolate lemon (OH.MY.GOD), lemon lime, apple pie, cookie dough, and Boston Cream.

Even though I’m a little more unfamiliar with this area of Richmond Hill compared to other neighbourhoods (I’m much more familiar with the neighbourhood just south of Major Mackenzie on Yonge), I will say that if you continue walking/driving/bussing further up north, there’s a lovely little village similar to that of Main Street Unionville and Main Street Markham with cute shops and cafes and it’s definitely worth a nice spring or summer day out to explore.  This begs the question then, “how in the world did you find Crumbs & Co.?!”  In short, when I was practising my driving a few years ago, my parents and I would drive up to Aurora via Yonge Street and during one of these trips, I noticed the Crumbs & Co. pink and brown storefront from the car window and did a double take (mind you, not with me behind the wheel!) when I realized there was a cupcakery in York Region!  That was a very happy day.

Fast forward to the happy day in which I made my first visit!  Crumbs & Co. had 13 cupcake flavours on hand that day: apple pie, Oreo, raspberry chocolate, Black Forest, strawberry shortcake, coconut creme, double chocolate, mocha espresso, lemon creme, After 8 mint chocolate, vanilla, caramel, and one that looked like a chocolate coffee cupcake.  Part of me really, really wanted to go for the apple pie, the coconut, and the strawberry shortcake, but I snatched up a lemon creme one instead along with a Black Forest.  Two great things about the cupcakes at Crumbs & Co. are the tax inclusive prices ($3, flat) and the fillings!  Most of their cupcakes actually have fillings in them (much like For the Love of Cake in Liberty Village) and they always specific what the fillings are on the little cupcake signs in the display cases.

If you enjoy your cupcakes sweet, Crumbs & Co. is definitely for you.  Everyone has a different take on cupcakes and everyone has a different preference for sweetness and frosting texture, but if you enjoy the sweetness, you will LOVE their cupcakes.  Their frosting is definitely more of a thick sweet frosting as opposed to a mousse or a whippy buttercream or meringue and between the two, I enjoyed my lemon one more.  While the Black Forest was great because of the rich cocoa flavour (more cocoa flavour as opposed to fudgy) and the cherry filling, it was a little on the sweeter side for me and I wanted more of a whippy, mousse-like buttercream, but that’s totally my preference for a Black Forest cupcake.

The lemon one was much more my speed with a sweet and citrusy lemon sugar frosting, sprinkles, and a dense and thick vanilla cake bottom.  It wasn’t until I actually started eating my lemon cake that I realized just how nice and big the cupcake was.  There was a good two and a half to two and three-quarter inches of cake alone, without the frosting, and the vanilla cake had a great pound cake-like taste and texture.  It never ceases to amaze me just how different cupcakes can be from bakery to bakery.  I’ve had vanilla cake bottoms that have been super fluffy, pound cake-like, sponge cake-like, with vanilla bean dots strewn throughout, vanilla buttermilk, the list goes on.  The texture and more mild vanilla flavour was a really good pairing to the stronger lemon flavour in the frosting and the filling, and unlike the Black Forest, I didn’t feel that this one was overly sweet. 

The ratio of cake to frosting was PERFECT (I wasn’t left with too much frosting or cake in the last few bites) and it was just an all-around delicious cupcake, especially with the special lemon curd filling that tasted just like the lemon filling you find in lemon jelly doughnuts!  Their boxes are pretty (pink and with a cellophane window like Prairie Girl Bakery), their cupcake shop is sweet and cute, and it’s in my neck of the woods.  I’m so happy I finally got around to coming to their shop and I’ll be looking forward to my next visit and future cupcake visits in my area!

*****

Crumbs & Co. is located in Markham at 10220 Yonge Street, about three blocks north of Major Mackenzie Drive West.  Other locations will be added to the post shortly!

The Fall Harvest Series – Sweet Apple Cinnamon Cupcakes and Chai Lattes on Main Street Unionville

3 Comments

Hands cupped around a warm mug.  The smell of baked goods and comfort food wafting through the air, with the tastes enveloping your tastebuds in happy delight.  The sight of reds, oranges, yellows, and golds just bursting before your eyes.  The feeling of coolness and crispness in the air as you listen to the crunch of fallen leaves under your feet.  When I think of fall, I envision sights, smells, and tastes that tickle my inspiration; fall is a beautiful season that ignites the senses.  It makes me think of my first trip to the apple orchard as a kid, all the times I skipped through leaves at the park, the family trips I went on to see the changing colours, the pumpkins I carved with my aunt and uncle, and of course, the food!  I’ll never forget the amazing Thanksgiving feast my aunt put out when I was 10, the apple cider and warm drinks I had in the company of friends, and my memories of eating pumpkin pie for the first time.  In a nutshell, fall for me is comfort and nostalgia at its finest. 

One of my favourite neighbourhoods to enjoy the fall season in is Main Street Unionville in Markham, where I live.  Having lived in Markham for 13 years, I have memories of doing fun things here from every season and I will never grow tired of strolling through the old-town, Victorianesque streets, visiting the library, and ambling through the parks and pond.  When I think about taking photos of colourful leaves in the area, it gets me all excited because it’s just that beautiful.  I am so lucky to have such a scenic neighbourhood nearby to enjoy both the green (or rather red, orange, and yellow this time of year!) space and the yummies!  Photographing pretty trees, curling up with a hot drink, and having a sweet treat – now that’s the kind of fall day I love!

After going bananas during my first visit to Old Firehall Confectionery back in August, I was dying to see whether or not there were seasonal treats.  I know, I know, it’s a mecca of sugar and spice and everything nice so of course they would have seasonal desserts!  But I had to be sure.  So I went.  And internally squealed.  Fall desserts!  Pumpkin pie tarts, maple pecan tarts, maple cupcakes, and apple cinnamon cupcakes!  YES!  Where you find new flavours of cupcakes, you will find Deb.  That’s just how it works.  The devil on my shoulder wanted one of everything, but the angel on the other shoulder rolled her eyes and said no because dinner was coming in another two and a half hours.  I picked out one apple cinnamon cupcake ($2.89).  So the angel won.  This time.  The cupcake needed a friend though, so I paired it up with a nice warm drink from Timothy’s World Coffee down the street.  I plan these things out.  I’m nothing if not resourceful.

Even though I consider myself a wuss in the presence of a hot drink (I’m the one who sits there and gingerly pokes at the mug or cup to see if my fingertip gets hot before taking a tiny cautious sip), there’s nothing like the feeling of holding a warm drink in your hands with the sun shining at you through a window.  A drink that smells so good it makes you forget how afraid you are of hot liquids.  Enter the apple chai latte!  Timothy’s has two new fall drinks on their fall seasonal menu, including the apple chai latte and the chocolate pumpkin spice lattebene (I KNOW, holy schmoly.  You can bet I’ll be coming back for that one).  Back in August, I made it a mission to try as many fall-related drink out there once all the seasonal stuff hit, so there I was happily sprinkling ground cinnamon and nutmeg into my mug and taking careful sips (or maybe slurps) as I admired my apple cinnamon cupcake. 

Delicious drink with an even more delicious cupcake!  After all these years, I’ve never actually taken advantage of seasonal drinks much, so I was really happy that this one was so yummy.  The chai flavour came out crystal clear with a zing and it smelled divine with the addition of cinnamon and nutmeg.  If you’re looking for a flavour comparision between apple cider and the apple chai latte, the chai latte is a lot less tart and the apple flavour is more blended and nuanced in it.  It’s wonderful.

And the cupcake!  The lemon cupcake I had during my first visit was yummy, but jeebus, the apple cinnamon one blew that experience out of the water.  This cupcake was SO creamy and moist and I almost shoved the whole thing in my mouth.  I like to savour my food and make my food last by taking small bites, but all resolve was lost on this sweet morsel of goodness.  The frosting was amazing.  It was thick (not thick as in paste-like, but thick as in not whippd cream-like), rich, and creamy with the perfect amount of cinnamon spice and apple flavour.  The cinnamon flavour wasn’t overkill and there were some apple crisp and nut crumbles on the frosting that give the cupcake a scrumptious bite of crunch. 

It’s a season that I relish in, not just for its natural beauty, but also for the happy nostalgia it brings.  Looking back makes me that much more excited to look forward to even more awesome things to come.

*****

Old Firehall Confectionery is located at 170 Main Street in the historic Main Street Unionville neighbourhood between Carlton Rd. and Hwy 7.  The dessert haven is located between Carlton Rd. and Fred Varley Drive.  Main Street is located just east of Kennedy Rd.  Timothy’s World Coffee is located just a few shops down the street from Old Firehall Confectionery.

If Pudding & Custard Had a Love Child – The Lemon Square Cupcake & Its Friends at Old Firehall Confectionery, Part III

3 Comments

It’s the last long weekend of summer, it’s scorching out, and I’m happily spending my weekend indoors scrapbooking, reading my apple cookbook, organizing photos and my lip gloss collection, and planning my fall activities.  If the weather didn’t threaten to melt me I’d probably be out and about, but I’m hiding and having indoor fun instead 😀  It’s been fun writing up these dessert posts the past few days and I hope you’ve all liked them.  Today marks the 3rd and last post in the 3-part series showcasing all the sweet goodies at the popular Main Street Unionville hangout, Old Firehall Confectionery.   

Ahh, Old Firehall, home of macarons, truffles, bricks of fudge, different flavours of soft-serve ice cream, and their signature square cupcakes.  Wait…what?  SQUARE cupcakes?!  Yes, cute square cupcakes with beautiful, thick creamy frosting, fillings, and toppings!  These cupcakes are beautiful with their domes of perfectly swirled frosting ribbons and because of their shape, quite unique!  I don’t know if there are other cupcakeries around the city that make square cupcakes, but it’s the first time I’ve seen square ones and I’m very delighted. 

The cupcakes here come in two sizes: small ($2.89) and large ($3.99).  If you plan on having this as a dessert after a meal or an afternoon snack, stick with the small ones because the small sizes are actually the size of a regular at other cupcakeries.  A large is not for the faint of heart.  When I looked at the large ones, I thought, “good lord, that thing eats like a meal!  But it would be good for sharing…hmm”.  There are, however, differences between the small and large and it has to do with the special surprise inside the cupcake.  The large cupcakes have creamy ganache fillings inside whereas the small ones don’t.  I’m uncertain about seasonal flavours, but Old Firehall has 8 flavours of cupcakes on their everyday menu.  These include Choko Chocolate, Lemonicious, Heavenly Vanilla, Peanut Butter, Red Velvet, Cookies & Cream, Sweet Strawberry, and Pina Colada.  Broken down, this is what you can expect from each cupcake:

  • The Choko Chocolate is a chocolate cupcake with chocolate buttercream and a white and dark chocolate striped topper with chocolate filling in the large. 
  • The Heavenly Vanilla is a vanilla cupcake with vanilla buttercream, a chocolate topper, and rainbow sprinkles with vanilla cream filling in the large
  • The Peanut Butter one is a chocolate cupcake with peanut butter cream and peanut butter chips with peanut butter filling in the large 
  • The Red Velvet cupcake has red velvet cake with cream cheese frosting, a red heart chocolate topper, red velvet cake crumbles, and a cream cheese filling in the large
  • The Cookies & Cream cupcake is a chocolate cupcake with vanilla buttercream, crushed Oreo cookie pieces, and a vanilla filling in the large
  • The Sweet Strawberry one is a vanilla cupcake with strawberry buttercream, a white chocolate topper, and a strawberry filling in the large
  • The Pina Colada cupcake has vanilla cake with pineapple buttercream, toasted coconut flakes, and a coconut cream filling in the large

Now, did you notice a flavour missing in that list?  Lemonicious!  The lovely sweet citrus dessert is a vanilla cupcake with lemon buttercream and a sweet and sour lemon gummy candy topper.  I chose a small one to go along with the peanut butter and jelly macaron I picked out and you can bet I had a hard time choosing which one I wanted.  I am looking forward to all future visits to Old Firehall, but I am telling you, my indecisive mind is going to be stymied and absolutely fried after all those dessert runs.  It was hard enough deciding on a macaron and a cupcake.  I then had to go through the excruciating task of choosing which macaron and cupcake I wanted.  The sprinkles from the vanilla cupcake was giving me looks and the pina colada was right beside it, silently calling out.  Maybe next time I’ll get them both and call it a day.  Woe is me.

My lemon cupcake was wonderful.  Was it the best of the best of every lemon cupcake I’ve ever eaten?  Well, no, but I enjoyed it very much nevertheless.  The vanilla cake is very standard; soft enough that it isn’t crumbly, but not so soft that it could hold a contest with some of the other pillow soft ones I’ve tried elsewhere.  In a nutshell, tasty with a great vanilla flavour, but not something to write home about because it tastes like what it should taste like and nothing more. 

However, the buttercream on the cupcakes here is really different and for me, this is what makes this cupcake.  It’s incredible how many different styles of frosting and buttercream I’ve come across, and the lemon cupcake I nom nomed on had a buttercream that was noticeably different from the first bite.  It’s light, whippy, creamy, and soft and if custard and pudding had a love child, this would be it.  I have never had a buttercream or frosting that tasted like this.  The texture is just different and it’s like amazing lemon pudding but creamier and thicker.  The lemon flavour is bang on and it has that juicy, zesty lemon flavour that’s indicative of citrusy summer goodness.  Oh, and the lemon candy.  PERFECT touch.  The buttercream and gummy candy complement one another and the candy goes so far as even enhancing the juicy lemon flavour in the buttercream.  Lemon yum-yumness 😀 

When my best friend told me that I would love Old Firehall, she wasn’t lying.  I still feel a bit put off that I didn’t know about this shop earlier, but my feelings have been soothed since.  You know, by the sweet treats.  Really though, I can’t believe what a powerhouse they are when it comes to offering desserts in almost every form you can think of.  It’s just perfect for so many different occasions.  Candies for goody bags, truffles and chocolates for a bit of luxury and indulgence (and also for fancy gifts!), and ice cream for dates, romantic or otherwise.  There’s truly something for everyone here, and in my case, multiple somethings.

*****

Old Firehall Confectionery is located at 170 Main Street in the historic Main Street Unionville neighbourhood between Carlton Rd. and Hwy 7.  The dessert haven is located between Carlton Rd. and Fred Varley Drive.  Main Street is located just east of Kennedy Rd.