The Final Sweet Morsels of Frosting and Cake Crumbs – Vegan Cupcakes at the Vegetarian Food Fair! Part III

3 Comments

Have you ever dreamed of walking through a magical cupcake land with tubs of frosting floating around and cupcakes dancing around like heavenly visions of sugar plums?  No?  Okay, well I guess it’s just me then.  If you can believe it, those make-believe cupcake land dreams of mine came true on Saturday at the Vegetarian Food Fair at Harbourfront – sans the fairy wings and all though!  Welcome to the 3rd part of the Vegetarian Food Fair series of 2011, vegan cupcake-style!  Toronto may not be the vegetarian and vegan capital of the world, but I’m really fortunate to live around a city with options and with so many talented, enthusiastic business-owners and entrepreneurs who are constantly keeping things fresh, exciting, and innovative with their vegan creations.

I remember the first time I ate a vegan cupcake: October 2010 at the cafe that used to be in the Blue Banana gift shop in Kensington Market.  What can I say?  My memory is good when it comes to things with frosting!  The cupcakes from Blue Banana were actually ones from Dundas St. West’s very own OMG Baked Goodness and I remember how chocolatey and fudgy they were and how much I loved them.  The frosting was one of the most amazing things that had ever danced on my tastebuds and from that day on, I knew vegan sweets were in a league of their own.   

After going through all my photos from the fair Saturday night, I knew right off the bat that two posts were not going to be enough to showcase all the yumminess, and I knew that there was no chance of me squishing all my cupcake photos into my vegan desserts and sweets Part II post.  So here we are with an entire post dedicated to the vegan cupcakes at the food fest.  I cannot believe how many delicious, beautiful vegan cupcakes were here; I was going bat-apeing crazy!  The first thought that popped into my head as soon as I walked through the first aisle of booths was, “Are you kidding me?!  I can’t eat all this, my tummy’s not big enough!  This is so unfair!”  Cue foot stomping.  And the realization that I was only going to be able to eat one, at best.  Hence the ridiculous amount of photos; I needed some way of ingesting the awesomeness that lay before me.

We’re talking about rows and rows of s’mores cupcakes, mint chocolate, lavender chocolate (Sweets From the Earth), butterscotch pecan (Bloomers Bakery), pumpkin spice, red velvet, cookies and cream, chocolate coffee buttercream with mini donut (I KNOW.  Oh my god to the max), French toast (double oh my god) from Bunner’s Bake Shop, and many others, all from local businesses and bakeries.  I was wading through a cupcake dreamworld, a beautiful world I really didn’t want to leave!  Even though I knew there were great vegan bakeries in the city, I was introduced to businesses I didn’t even know existed.  I had no idea so many of them did cupcakes in that capacity, and it makes me so excited to know there are new flavours waiting for me to try out and new businesses for me to get to know.  The Vegetarian Food Fair was just phenomenal and I’m super happy I have these photos and great memories to look back on.  Because I’m going to need these to tide me over until next year 😉

*****

The Toronto Vegetarian Association (TVA) is located at 17 Baldwin St., 2nd floor (near the corner of Baldwin St. and McCaul St., south of Cecil St.).  To learn more about TVA’s mandate, events, news, and more, click here.  The Harbourfront Centre is located at 235 Queens Quay West.  For more info on their festivals, events, workshops, gallery shows, and more, click here.

OMG, They’re So Fudgy! Chocolate Vegan Cupcakes at OMG Baked Goodness

1 Comment

I miss the café at Blue Banana in Kensington Market.  A lot.  When I found out that they packed up their adorable café with some of my favourite chocolate vegan cupcakes, I was crushed.  They had big, soft, moist, and densely chocolatey vegan cupcakes that had thick, amazing frosting in fun colours and edible pearls and sugar crystals.  Not only that, they had carrot cake cupcakes, brownies, giant cookies, and other goodies like Turkish Delight and chocolate covered pretzels.  It was cute and fun and I looked up at the food gods and silently thought, “you are so mean.” 

Thankfully, all of us who adored those cupcakes don’t need to fret because they’re not entirely gone.  Gone from Blue Banana, yes, but not gone from the city.  For those who weren’t aware, Blue Banana’s yummy vegan cupcakes were supplied by the cute and flashy OMG Baked Goodness Ltd. on Dundas Street West and they’re very much alive and kickin’ (and currently supplying to a number of cafés and retailers all over the Toronto) near the intersection of Dundas West and Dufferin St.  I have been meaning to go to OMG for ages, ever since I learned that Blue Banana’s cupcakes came from here.  A cupcake munchie like myself has to visit the mothership, right? 😀  I was so excited to continue my own little personal cupcake tour by coming here because really, the visit was long overdue!

OMG Baked Goodness is beautiful.  If you love pink and colourful brights, it’s it a feast for your eyes.  If you love fluffy cupcakes with frostings in every colour of the rainbow, it will make your cupcake-loving heart swoon.  And if you’re gaga over photo ops, well…be prepared for a few finger spasms!  They have a giant cupcake graffiti painting on their wall!  It makes my heart happy.  OMG isn’t just your resident vegan cupcakery though.  Aside from cupcakes, they bake babycakes (which resemble very large muffins with big tops), brownies (cream cheese ones and walnut ones to name a few), cookies, and savoury eats such as mini quiche pies, spinach and feta turnovers, roasted vegetable turnovers, and stuffed focaccia among many others.  Prices range from $3.25-$4.00 for savoury food items, around $2.15 for babycakes, and $2.75 for brownies. 

 

OMG is totally on the ball with having their baked goods ready to go when they open for business, and even before they actually open!  After getting off the Dundas West streetcar and walking over from College St. (construction in the city = route detours, not to fret), I saw the lights were on and the girls baking inside and got confused because I could have sworn I had arrived there earlier than 10am.  And I did, but there it was with its “Open” sign beckoning me to come in and the nice girls ready to serve me.  Sweet!

Now, I may not be able to describe or comment on any of their baked goods aside from the vegan cupcakes, but give me a month and I’m sure that can be changed 😀  What I love about their chocolate vegan cupcakes is how moist and FUDGY they are.  Oh my goodness, THIS is what chocolate is supposed to taste like.  The chocolate cupcakes taste like fudgy brownies only in cupcake form.  I snatched up two regular-sized cupcakes ($2.75 each, which places them right in the middle price-wise compared to other cupcakeries in Toronto) and two minis with a smattering of rainbow sprinkles!  The minis come in at $1.50 each and the frostings are so cute and colourful.  There was no way in hell that I was going to give up mini cupcakes with rainbow SPRINKLES all over them.  I love sprinkles the way peanut butter loves jelly. 

The minis were awesome.  You know what they tasted like?  A cross between a moist chocolate cupcake and a sprinkled donut with frosted glaze!  Obviously the frosting wasn’t just a glaze, but you get what I mean.  I shoved them in my mouth and loved them dearly.  I do wish though that the frosting on the regular-sized cupcakes was a bit thicker just because it wasn’t as thick as the frosting I remember eating from the ones at Blue Banana.

These are solid, good chocolate vegan cupcakes though and the prices are very reasonable in comparison to other cupcakeries.  At the lower end price-wise, there are a handful of places that sell them for $2.50 (Sweet Escape Patisserie, For the Love of Cake) and $2.65 (The Cupcake Shoppe).  At mid-range we have Short & Sweet Cupcakes coming in at $2.90, Prairie Girl Bakery at $2.95, and of course, OMG Baked Goodness at $2.75.  Rounding out the higher end are Bunner’s Bake Shop ($3.25) and Lollicakes ($3.00).  Granted, there are MANY cupcakeries in Toronto that I haven’t listed here, but you get the idea.  I’m not vegan and I really enjoy their chocolate cupcakes.  When I try out some of their other goodies (I saw a babycake that looked like it has marshmallow in it OMG), I’ll be sure to share some more!  I hope you all like the photos and the scrap layout and if you’re wondering about those cupcakeries that I listed but didn’t link…well, let’s just say some more cupcake blog posts are in order in the near future 😉

*****

OMG Baked Goodness is located at 1561 Dundas Street West, west of Dufferin St. at the corner of Sheridan and Dundas West.  They are open from 10am-7pm Monday-Saturday and from 12pm-5pm on Sunday.  You can view their products on their website here.

Scrapbooking materials used: eggplant purple, lilac, dark pink, buttercup yellow, and mint green cardstock (Recollections, Choco-Mod Patterns by DCWV); pink, green, and brown patterned alphabet stickers (Choco-Mod Patterns by DCWV); “Lollipop” alphabet stickers (Autumn Leaves, Creativity Inc.); baking stickers (Sticko, Jolee’s Boutique); cake and cupcake adhesive embellishments (Michaels); medium scallop circle paper punch (ek success).     

The First Veggielicious Pitstop! Sweet Vegan & Gluten-Free Treats at Bunner’s Bake Shop, Part II

16 Comments

Oh yes, this picture of mouthwatering chocolate cookie and cream sandwiches is real and no, you are not dreaming.  And if you’re wondering, oh yes, they taste as heavenly as they look.  I hope you all enjoyed the pictures and teaser post from yesterday!  There was no way I could fit all my photos in one post so I split it up into two…it’s not like you all mind though.  Two guaranteed days of sweet treats?  Sold 😀  Bunner’s Bake Shop on Dundas St. West in the Junction neighbourhood was my first Veggielicious pitstop and I am SO happy that I went.  I’m really happy that they’re participating in the food fest and getting more business and exposure because of it because they really deserve it.  Had it not been for this fest, I never would have known about it.  I know I explore the city a lot, but Toronto is BIG and I suppose I would have stumbled upon it at a later time, but sooner is always better than later 😉

What I love about Bunner’s is their commitment to quality and the execution of their craft.  Bunner’s is a bakery that is committed to creating and serving desserts that are fair trade, vegan and cruelty-free, and dairy-free and gluten-free with an emphasis on also catering to those who also have soy allergies.  I really appreciate this, not because I’m allergic to soy per se (I’m allergic to soy milk but no other soy products, go figure), but because I have friends who are allergic to soy and nuts and this allergy makes it very difficult for them to enjoy a lot of vegetarian and vegan food that is made with soy or nuts.  It’s a bake shop with a conscious. 

They have a clear vision of what their craft means to them and what they want to achieve through their offering of delicious desserts, namely, accessibility.  It’s not easy catering to different diets, intolerances, beliefs, and lifestyles without alienating your clientele or ending up with subpar product.  But they do this beautifully and you can tell when you look at their treats and when you eat them.  You can taste the quality, the passion, and the innovativeness through their baked goods.

The Veggielicious deal, as a mentioned yesterday, is comprised of one cupcake of your choice, a creamie (the cookie sandwich), and a supersonic gypsy cookie for $7.50.  Well worth it in my opinion because holy mother of pearl these babies are big!  The creamie is so thick and mondo huge, the cookie is like a rocky mountain, and the cupcakes are the perfect size (not small but not steroid-like) with a delightful heaping of frosting on top. 

Now, when I talk about their commitment quality, there’s a reason why.  Take the gypsy cookie, for example.  This is what they refer to as a “power” cookie, the kind of cookie that is healthy and good for you, and will get you up and raring to go in the morning or give you that kick in the ass you need to get through the middle of the day.  I think they have several different kinds with oats and dried fruits and chocolate.  Mine was generously stuffed with chocolate chips (the good cocoa chocolate, not the sickly sweet milk chocolate), raisins (Correction: I have been informed that they were in fact not raisins but apple-sweetened dried cranberries, d’oh!  My bad!), oats, and pumpkin seeds. 

Now, as I was discussing with my friend Sally yesterday, this might not be everyone’s cup of tea based on what’s in it.  Her vegetarian friend loved it, but she wasn’t too fussy about it.  My verdict?  I actually really enjoyed it.  I like raisins in my cookies (think oatmeal raisin), (Correction: I love dried cranberries!), so it works for me, and I loooove the crunch the pumpkin seeds gave to this cookie and the chocolate sweetened the whole cookie up so that it balanced out the nutty flavour of the oats and seeds and the tartness of the raisins.  For those who enjoy texture and a mixture of savoury and sweet, this is for you and it’s one of Bunner’s best sellers.

And the creamie and the cupcake?  Oh heaven.  Pure heaven.  As my friend Sally said, “I could eat a whole tub of the lemon frosting”.  I agree, so could I.  The cupcake I chose was a vanilla cake with lemon frosting.  I can honestly say that this is a cupcake unlike anything I have ever tasted.  And in a good way!  To put things in perspective, let me just remind everyone what makes a bad cupcake: too dry, too sweet, too crumbly.  As well, cupcakes that don’t support the weight of the frosting and fall apart half way through eating, and those are saturated with extract (vanilla, almond, you get the picture). 

Now, the most common complaints I hear about cupcake frosting, specifically, are that some frostings are too greasy and “butter” like in consistency to the point where they leave a film on your mouth, ones that are too sweet and grainy (the kind of sugary that makes you grimace), and ones that are artificial in taste (think mint frosting that ends up tasting like Listerine). 

Bunner’s cupcakes are NONE of these things.  Their cake, although not the moistest I’ve ever had (that award goes to the Black Velvet at Sweet Escape), was soft and subtle in flavour.  The lemony frosting?  Oh man.  So different from anything I’ve tasted.  It was thick and full-bodied in its volume, texture, and flavour.  It’s the kind of frosting that doesn’t dissipate as soon as it hits your tongue.  It envelopes your taste buds and does a little waltz around your mouth.  It has the volume of marshmallow fluff and the thickness of reeeeally good frosting.  The cupcake is so satisfying.

But you wanna know what’s even MORE satisfying?  The creamie cookie sandwich.  No, scratch that.  Satisfying is not the right word.  Gratifying is the right word.  Although I chose the double chocolate chip creamie for my boyfriend because he’s a chocolate fanatic (and because I love him, aww), I demanded a bite when he was eating it.  The phrase “oh my god” doesn’t even cut it.  Hands down, pure awesomeness.  Anyone who goes to Bunner’s (and you know you will) MUST get a creamie.  If I’m going to recommend anything to you, it’s that.  And trust that when I eat a whole one myself, I will give you the lowdown in all its glory.  But I’ll let you salivate and let your imagination run wild in the meantime.

An amazing fun Veggielicious and hopefully, more wonderful experiences and good eats to come in the next little while!  I’m going to work on getting more detailed descriptions of vegan ingredients used in the desserts as time goes on when I profile items on their own, so I’ll make sure to make those available to you all.  Veggielicious runs until April 24th, so enjoy!

*****

Bunner’s is located in The Junction at 3054 Dundas Street West, 3 blocks from the intersection of Keele and Dundas West.  Bunner’s is just west of High Park Ave.  They are open from Monday to Saturday from 10am-7pm, and 12pm-5pm on Sundays.

Sinking Your Teeth Into Luscious Vegan and Gluten-Free Desserts! Veggielicious at Bunner’s Bake Shop – Part I

8 Comments

I am SO giddy and excited to share these photos with you guys!  It was such a beautiful day today.  A bit chilly in the morning, but sunkissed and glorious by the afternoon.  Veggielicious is up and running in and around the city and today I ate through the first one on my list: Bunner’s Bake Shop on Dundas St. West!  When I went over my foodie options for Veggielicious, I knew I wanted to balance out my savoury with some sweet, and sweet I got!  Bunner’s Bake Shop, located in the heart of The Junction neighbourhood in Toronto, is a vegan and gluten-free bakery that churns out delicious desserts and pastries that are egg-free, wheat-free, dairy-free, and cruelty-free.  Their Veggielicious special for the 2 weeks is comprised of a gypsy cookie, a creamie cookie sandwich, and a cupcake for $7.50.  This is my teaser picture post for you all today, so enjoy and drool while I work on my thorough Bunner’s Bake Shop post tomorrow! 😀  A BIG thank you to Ashley and Kevin who run Bunner’s for allowing me to go snap happy with my camera so I could share this experience with you guys, I really appreciate it.

*****

Bunner’s is located in The Junction at 3054 Dundas Street West, 3 blocks from the intersection of Keele and Dundas West.  Bunner’s is just west of High Park Ave.  They are open from Monday to Saturday from 10am-7pm, and 12pm-5pm on Sundays.

Thick, Sweet Frosting & Fudgy Chocolate: Vegan Cupcakes at Blue Banana

6 Comments

Oh how I’ve missed blogging about cupcakes.  I know it hasn’t been that long, but it’s felt like an eternity because I’ve been so impatient to share more cupcake adventures with you guys!  I was really excited to finally get these pictures developed for this layout and I worked my tooshie off to get this 4-pager all nice and pretty for today 😀  Although I don’t scrapbook a lot of cupcake pictures (sometimes I just like keeping photos in albums; I don’t feel the urge to scrap absolutely everything, ha!), it’s SO much fun when I do because cupcakes themselves are fun and colourful and whimsical, and what I have for you all today are deliciously chocolatey vegan cupcakes from the Blue Banana Market coffee shop in Kensington Market.

I know I toot my horn a lot about this neighbourhood.  Heck, I think I have 2 posts from this past week alone dedicated to it (yesterday’s holiday cookie photos and King’s Café from Christmas eve), but I can’t help it because I simply love it so much.  And Blue Banana is one of my FAVOURITE places to shop in the city.  Located at 250 Augusta Ave. (nearest major intersection is College St. and Spadina Ave., west of Spadina), it’s this giant gift shop with everything from offbeat clothing and jewelry on the 2nd floor, to stationery, candy, kitchen accessories, books, lotion, and toys on the ground floor.  And by the front entrance is the cutesy coffee shop with delightful desserts like cookies, Turkish delight, chocolate covered pretzels, brownies, and carrot cake among other things.

Now, I can’t comment on the java as I’ve never had a cuppa joe there (remember how I mentioned I didn’t like coffee?  I know, go ahead and chuck things at me), but I can tell you how good the cupcakes are.  They are different and in the best way possible.  They are chocolatey moist and denser in texture than your average non-vegan cupcake.  You can taste the richness of the chocolate cake batter and it’s a very well-rounded flavour.  You’re not left with a dry aftertaste and the frosting on these sweet things are just amazing. 

Cupcake frosting is done differently all across the board and  The Cupcake Shoppe by Yonge and Eglinton does theirs buttercream style.  These vegan cupcakes on the other hand are topped with a frosting of a thicker, sugary cream consistency that tastes like spun sugar.  When you take a bite of the cake and frosting together, it is heaven in your mouth.  It’s thick and sweet and SO delicious when you have a mouthful of the frosting with the fudgy cake.  For those are who interested in knowing the ingredients that go into making these cupcakes vegan, I am working on getting this information, so I’ll be sure to let y’all know when I have it!

Now here’s an interesting tidbit to keep in mind: Blue Banana is simply a retailer that sells these cupcakes in their shop on behalf of another cupcakery in the city, OMG Baked Goodness (located at 1561 Dundas St. West) who delivers these sweet treats to Blue Banana every day, so there’s more than one location you can snag these vegan cupcakes!  And yes, you can bet your sweet butt I’ll be paying a visit to OMG Baked Goodness when I get the chance 😀  If you’re curious, thus far I’ve had the cupcake with orange frosting and edible pearl, orange frosting and crystal sprinkles, chocolate frosting with pink crystal sprinkles, and the carrot cake (not pictured or scrapbooked).  My favourites?  The ones with the crystal sprinkles. 

Cupcakes are $2.65 each (before taxes) and you can eat them in the coffee shop or take them to go…like me, in a cup with a fork, haha.  Seriously, if you don’t take it to go in something, you are going to wind up with frosting all over your nose, face, and mouth.  It was cute having my boyfriend Richard lick kiss the frosting off me, but you know…you don’t always have assistance with you *laughs*

*****

Scrapbooking materials used: Neon green, indigo violet, periwinkle, bubble gum pink, and white cardstock (Recollections); “I ❤ Cupcakes” stickers (Sticko); adhesive gems; alphabet stickers (K & Company); circle paper punch; curly whirl paper punch; medium scallop circle paper punch (ek success)

A thank you to my friend Maria who sent me the curly whirl paper punch, and my dear Mindy who sent me the sheet of “I ❤ Cupcakes” stickers.  I ❤ you!