The Cupcake Connection, Vol. 002 – Wedding Cupcake Decorating Classes, Summer Flavours, & Ice Cream Cupcakes!

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Ice cream flavours and cupcakes – how sweet it is

Welcome to the second installment of The Cupcake Connection, your humble resource to some of the sweet and tasty frosted happenings in Toronto’s cupcake world!  First up, new bake shop alert!  Some of you may already know this if you’re very tuned in to social media and its cupcake whispers, but for those of you who don’t and aren’t, I have some fantastic news for all vegans with a sweet tooth: Tori’s Bakeshop on Queen Street East! 

Tori’s Bakeshop, located at 2188 Queen Street East, is a vegan, organic, all-natural bakery that just recently opened and boy does it ever boast a boatload of treats!  Cinnamon buns, pies, tarts, scones, muffins, cookies, biscotti, and of course, cupcakes!  Much like Bunner’s Bake Shop, Tori’s Bakeshop offers a huuuuge selection of egg-free, dairy-free, refined sugar-free, and gluten-free products.  Since I’m still planning my first visit to this great new shop in the east end, I decided to give them a call to ask them about their cupcakes and while it completely slipped mind to ask about prices (whoops!), I did get all the informatin on their flavours and selection.  On any given day (they’re open from Wednesday to Sunday during the week), they have 6 cupcake flavours to choose from: cherry, coconut, lemon, strawbery, peanut butter, cookes and cream, mint, and the classic chocolate and vanilla.  I absolutely can’t wait to come here and try their lemon, coconut, and cherry cupcakes especially.

Lime – perfect for summer!

Now, onto summer flavours!  We know how much fun it is using seasonal fruits and treats as inspiraton for our cooking, baking, and artistic endeavours and cupcakes are right in the thick of it all!  There are so many juicy, delicious summery flavours on hand right now at many of the city’s cupcake bakeries.  Short & Sweet Cupcakes is currently busting out their June flavour of the month, Tropic Thunder, a fruity mix of pineapple, banana, and coconut frosting and cake, The Cupcake Shoppe goes citrus this season with their summer seasonal Lime n’ licious cupcake, and Liberty Village’s For the Love of Cake has JUST doled out their special summer cupcake flavour, key lime pie!  I’ve been meaning to go back to For the Love the Cake for ages and this just gives me an even more delicious incentive – I see both the key lime pie cupcake and my beloved lemon meringue cupcake in my future this season! 

And of course, what’s a summer without ice cream?  Yummy Stuff is enticing our summer cravings with their June flavour of the month: the vanilla, chocolate, and strawberry Neapolitan cupcake!   This was exactly what I was referring to in Friday’s Yummy Stuff post when I was gushing about art imitating food imitating more food.  Not only did I take advantage of their Neapolitan decorated sugar cookie, I also snatched up their ice cream flavour inspired cupcake. 

With moist, fluffy, soft-as-a-pillow strawberry cake and thick creamy vanila and chocolate swirled frosting, the cupcake tasted EXACTLY like Neapolitan ice cream – without the freezer burn!  The cupcake was literally oozing with baked strawberries (no joke, I had to catch some of the strawberries as I bit into it to keep them from falling on my pants!) and their vanilla and chocolate frosting were bang on.  Yummy Stuff seriously makes some of the best chocolate frosting in the city and it was such a fun, summery cupcake to have for the month of June.

Since we’re on the topic of ice cream and cupcakes, why not have real ice cream together with cupcakes?  That’s right, folks, Cold Stone Creamery isn’t the only spot in town that makes these decadent treats!  The Cupcakery on St. Clair West has 6 different ice cream cupcake flavours to choose from including, each for $2.50 for 6 for $13:

  1. Ice Queen – vanilla cake topped with vanilla ice cream and pink vanilla buttercream
  2. Chocolate Sundae – chocolate cake layered with caramel sauce and Skor toffee bits, topped with chocolate ice cream and chocolate buttercream
  3. Cookies and Cream – vanilla cake layered with crushed Oreo cookies topped with vanilla ice cream and vanilla buttercream
  4. Chocolate Mint – chocolate cake topped with chocolate ice cream and mint buttercream
  5. Creamsicle – vanilla cake topped with vanilla ice cream and orange buttercream
  6. Banana Rama – chocolate cake topped with chocolate ice cream and banana buttercream

Learn how to make your cupcakes look as beautiful as this wedding cake at one of Le Dolci’s decorating classes!

Okay, so we’ve covered the new bake shop alert, slammin’ summer cupcake flavours, and ice cream cupcakes that are perfect for summer.  What’s that I hear?  Dum-da-dum-dum-dum-dum.  Ooo, wedding bells!  We can’t talk about summer without mentioning the bustling, topsy-turvy wedding season and Le Dolci has every sweet tooth covered with two very special Introduction to Wedding Cupcakes decorating classes this summer!  The first one will be held on Friday, July 6th from 2pm-4pm and the second one will be held in August on Sunday, August 5th from 2pm-4pm.  Each class is priced at $80 +HST/person and at the end of the class you get to take home a dozen awesomely yummy vanilla cupcakes beautifully decorated by you!  The wedding cupcakes decorating classes will focus on intricate fondant design – think bridal magazine! 

Aside from being creative and getting to indulge in sweet cupcake fun, I think these classes are perfect if you have a friend who’s getting married and you want to give them something truly personal and unique to congratulate them.  And you’ll get to enjoy the class at their brand new studio on Dundas Street West just across the street from Trinity Bellwoods Park – win-win.  That’s all for now, so grab a ice cold drink and enjoy the fruity, summery treats and cupcakes while you can!

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The First Look – Cupcaking the Evening Away at Le Dolci’s *NEW* Fun, Foodie Studio on Dundas West!

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Cupcakes await you…

Le Dolci celebrated the grand opening of their BRAND NEW studio space on Dundas Street West tonight and I was there to spread the joy and join in on the festivties!  The space, which now houses a cupcake shop retail section, is absolutely GORGEOUS and I love it.  The exposed brick walls, the chandeliers, the arches, the mirrors, the mantel, the big windows…it is the best space the Le Dolci team could have snagged and I am so happy that the team will get to create many more amazing sweet treats and foodie memories in such a wonderful new home.  For those of you who’ve attended a recent class in the new studio, you already know what the space looks like, but for those of you who haven’t, here is the first look! 

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Le Dolci brand new studio is located at 1006 Dundas Street West, right at the corner of Dundas West and Montrose Ave. The studio is across the street from Trinity Bellwoods Park and are open for business 6 days a week.  Operating hours are from 10am-6pm from Tuesday to Saturday and 12pm-5pm on Sundays.  In addition to their numerous fun, foodie classes (cupcake decorating, cake pops, macarons, mini cakes, cookie decorating), corporate and event hosting and catering (business functions, weddings, birthdays, baby and bridal showers, and bachelorette parties among others), the new studio now houses a retail cupcake shop where you can come on in and indulge in juicy and fruity ice pops, courtesy of Augie’s Gourmet Ice Pops, drinks, and fresh baked, frosted cupcakes right on the premises!  Now you can have your cupcake and eat it too.  Visit my Le Dolci class page to view June classes and visit Le Dolci’s official website HERE for more information.

Oh, the Weather Outside Was Frightful, But the Cake Pops Were Delightful… – Valentine’s Cake Pops at Le Dolci, Part II!

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“Oh the weather outside was frightful, but the cake pops were so delightful, and since we had hearts aglow, let it snow, let it snow, let is snow!”  Our city may have been blanketed in sheets of snow like a snow globe turned upside down yesterday, but with white, red, and pink chocolate wafers melting over broilers and little bowls and cups filled with Valentine’s sprinkles, baubles, and candy, the Le Dolci studio was brimming with warmth and love as we celebrated Valentine’s and all thinks pink, sparkly, sweet, and pretty – cake pop style!  I spent the blistery cold, snowy morning dipping vanilla and chocolate cake balls and hearts in melted chocolate, sprinkling them with enough sprinkles to turn them into leaning towers of cake pops, and eating melted chocolate and cake crumbs off my fingers!  My heart sped up with giddy excitement as I saw pale pink edible pearls, a mix of red, pink, and white heart sprinkles, sparkly red and pink suagr sprinkles, cinnamon hearts, and conversation hearts. 

I will take advantage of any and every opportunity to play with sprinkles.  ANY.  And that includes bundling up like a snowman and leaving the house at the crack of dawn wearing two pairs of pants, three sweaters, two scarves, two pairs of socks, boots, a knit hat, my thickest pair of mitts, a coat, and my winter sunglasses (no windburn for this girl!) in the frigid cold and blowing snow.  Only I really couldn’t tell you how cold it was because I was toasty in all my layers and ended up waddling around like the Michelin man and yanking off my second pair of fuzzy socks because I couldn’t feel my toes.  ANYTHING FOR SWEETS!

Just like the Christmas Cake Pops class, Lisa, our cake pop teacher extraordinaire, began the class by doing a cake pop construction demo.  Crumbling some fresh vanilla cake in a mixing bowl and adding two large tablespoons of buttercream frosting to it, Lisa demonstrated how to roll the cake mixture into balls, how to properly temper and melt chocolate and chocolate wafers, and how to securely attach lollipop sticks to cake balls to minimize “cake pop overboard” situations when dunking and dipping.

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Be My Valentine – Getting Sweet on Cake Pops! Fluttering Hearts & Sparkly Sprinkles at Le Dolci’s Valentine Class

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Cupid’s bow and arrow has shot through Ate by Ate!  Even though I haven’t spent every single Valentine’s in my life doing something memorably fun, I have many wonderful memories, both food-related and otherwise.  I worked at a flower shop for 3 years during my undergrad and yes, I worked each and every single Valentine’s Day!  I wrapped roses and bouquets of flowers until my back and fingers were sore, experienced 3 different cuts on my hand one year with 3 different tools, and I even had a grisly encounter with an ice boulder falling on my head when I went home for the night (long story!).  Even with all that, I can look back at these memories in amusement.  It was my creative outlet at the time and they were truly learning experiences and good ones at that. 

I remember a Valentine’s tin of Hello Kitty chocolates in high school, (the tin currently houses a collection of Hello Kitty stationery), collecting special Valentine’s M&Ms candy tins, an amazing Valentine’s dessert date 3 years ago, a saucy and romantic Cajun meal 2 years ago, and sweetheart sushi, cupcakes, and a delicious dinner of beef tenderloin, enoki mushrooms, peppers, and fried rice last year.

I only wish Valentine’s was another week or two later because there’s so much I want to do!  I could easily spend an entire month posting about Valentine’s and food – writing and photographing desserts, visiting a few places with special themed menus, and doing spotlight posts on heart-shaped goodies around the city.  I’ve been poring over adorable Valentine’s restaurant menus in Toronto and Markham, ogling Valentine’s themed cakes, cupcakes, tarts, and cookies, and getting way too excited over Valentine’s decor, decorations, and kitchen accessories.  Between scrapbooking, writing, studio fun at Le Dolci, and brainstorming for the blog (and yes, painstaking job searching), I’ve been paging through older Martha Stewart Living magazines and older Valentine’s magazines for inspiration and fun.  I have a host of lovey-dovey posts chock full of Valentine’s sweets, treats, and good eats lined up for the next several days, so let’s get this love show started!  First up: the Valentine’s Cake Pop class at Le Dolci! 

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Le Dolci is a private studio located at 75 Portland St., just east of Bathurst near King St. West.  The studio hosts cupcake decorating classes and handles catering for both corporate and personal events.  For more information on classes, schedules, rates, and more, visit their official website here and their Facebook page here.

New Year, New Cupcake Projects at Le Dolci – Fun With Colourful Fondant Cupcake Toppers!

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A new year means new cupcake projects at Icing Sugar Tower, Le Dolci studio!  The last time I shared my sugary adventures was back in November and December when I was cake popping my way to Christmas with sprinkles and melted chocolate during the holidays.  It was such a fun class to be a part of and it definitely ranked as one of my favourite Le Dolci memories and experiences. 

After a bit of Christmas time off, the Le Dolci crew started 2012 with a bang with cupcake orders, private parties, and corporate cupcake catering.  Add to that a whole slew of macaron, cupcake, and cake decorating classes scheduled well into March and you have yourself one very busy studio!  Upcoming classes include new kid on the block, Mini Fondant Cake Decorating; all-time favourites Marvelous Macarons and Designer Cupcakes; and sweet and seasonal Valentine’s cupcakes and cake pops.  With a growing team, a sparkly new online store, and more and more cupcake baking going on in the Dolci oven every week, the new year is looking bright!  And bright was certainly the name of the game when I made these happy-go-lucky fondant cupcake toppers!

Toppers on cupcakes! Created by Miya

Not only do we jazz up cupcakes with pretty, colourful swirled frosting but we also design beautiful fondant cupcake toppers!  Cute, sophisticated, bright, subdued, romantic, feminine – whatever the mood or look, fondant cupcake toppers set the cupcake decorating bar high with an endless array of colours, styles, shapes, tools, and techniques to work with.  Icing sugar queens, Lisa and Miya, along with Cat (queen bee of Sugar Baking.com) have created fondant cupcake toppers for past Le Dolci classes including Vintage, Designer, and Christmas and this time around, I designed the ones for a special 4-dozen order.  The theme?  Children and kid-friendly!  Well, colour me excited!  I set up my mini work station, grabbed a placemat along with tools, jars of fondant icing colouring, tooth picks, and fondant, and a smattering of children’s themed and kid-friendly cutters: duckies, turtles, trains, rabbits, stars, flowers, and butterflies among others.

I’ll give a more in-depth and thorough tutorial later on in the future, but non-3D fondant toppers are basically created by rolling out fondant icing to the desired thickness, plunging different shaped cutters into the rolled fondant, and letting the fondant air-dry and harden on its own.  Toppers like the ones I made start with a base (maybe a circle, a scalloped circle, a square, or a flower if you so wish) and the rest is completely up to you depending on theme you’re working with or the assortment of cutters you have or want to use.  3D toppers aren’t out of the question though!  Even if you don’t have the time (or, let’s face it, the patience) to construct a dozen 3D trains, you can inject a little 3Dness into the mix by layering and making simpler 3D shapes like bows.  I wasn’t going for a 3D look with these.  Nope, my mission was to design super bright, happy, cheerful, colourful toppers!  

If you don’t have pre-coloured fondant, you can acheive the colours you want by using fondant icing colouring (Wilton has a rainbow of colours that you get at baking and craft shops).  Remember the fondant martini olives I made back in September?  The process of colouring fondant is exactly the same; hurray for toothpicks!  I worked with a primary colour palette of pink, yellow, and blue with secondary shades of purple and green thrown in along with some white to balance out all the colour.  I had myself some fun and the results are down below.  Not bad for a day’s work 😉

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Le Dolci is a private studio located at 75 Portland St., just east of Bathurst near King St. West.  The studio hosts cupcake decorating classes and handles catering for both corporate and personal events.  For more information on classes, schedules, rates, and more, visit their official website here and their Facebook page here.

Sweet Holiday Baking and Decorating Projects at Le Dolci – A Spotlight on Christmas Cake Pops

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I know this is after the fact, but I finally got around to editing some photos and I’m so excited to show you all my beloved group of Christmas cake pops from Le Dolci’s class!  Even though I’m at the studio on a regular basis, I don’t attend all the cupcake and dessert decorating classes that take place on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays most of the time.  Ideally that would be amazing, but it’s better to leave a spot vacant for an eager customer and student.  Not to mention attending oodles of classes on top of being at the studio is just asking for multiple sugar comas.  Like I don’t like the frosting off the spatula enough as it is! 

This class was such a treat (literally!) and I came away with a fabulous batch of sweet and decadent, super moist cake pops that I surprised my family with.  I was so busy snapping photos of everything that was going on during the class though that I didn’t get any good shots of my own little holiday superstars!  With the exception of the 2nd photo in the giant, two-part cake pop tutorial post last week, none of my own cake pops were featured and I didn’t get a chance to show you all the batch of cake pops I ended up with.  So here they are in all their glory!  I’m a big fan of sprinkles and I’m also a big fan of the drizzle method. 

My favourite one out of the bunch is the white chocolate one in the very middle with the red and green ball sprinkles and the dainty white snowflakes.  As soon as our wonderful cake pop teacher dished out those snowflake sprinkles, I was all over them like mud on a pig.  I dove for them and went snowflake sprinkling happy – kind of like real snowflakes!  Getting these cake pops to stand up and stay in place was no easy task though.  You are in fact looking at Christmas cake pops standing up in a mug filled with white chocolate chips on my kitchen table.  Anything for a few good shots, right? 

If any of you are interested in learning how to make cake balls and cake pops, just check out the tutorial post I have here and follow along with the photos and my step-by-step low-down on cake pop creation bliss.  It takes practice but the process is a lot of fun and I’m itching like crazy to experiment now that I’ve been bitten by the cake ball bug.  If anyone wants to take part in any of the classes (cupcake decorating, macaron making, and cake pops among others) take a look at the class schedule here and see if there’s anything that strikes your fancy.  We’re doing a ton of fun holiday decorating projects in the studio and I’m so looking forward to sharing more projects with you all as Christmas gets closer!  Happy baking and decorating, everyone! 

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Le Dolci is a private studio located at 75 Portland St., just east of Bathurst near King St. West.  The studio hosts cupcake decorating classes and handles catering for both corporate and personal events.  For more information on classes, schedules, rates, and more, visit their official website here and their Facebook page here.

Rockin’ Around the Cake Pop Tree, Have a Happy Holiday… – Christmas Cake Pops at Le Dolci, Part II

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Even though making cake pops from scratch from start to finish is a time-consuming, messy, and sometimes frustrating, process, my first afternoon of official cake pop making and decorating was one of the most fun and creative experiences I’ve ever had.  After taking part in yesterday’s Christmas cake pops class at our Le Dolci studio, I was bouncing off the walls with excitement and a newfound creative vigor toward sweets and design and decorating.  I knew it would be fun, but I had no idea I would have THIS much fun.  Those cake pops at the bottom left on the photo right below are mine!  I was completely taken aback in the best way possible and I’m happy that my curiousity and eagerness to learn got the best of me because it gave me a memorable experience to take away.

Although I love cake, I’ll be honest, I’ve been resisting the cake pop movement.  I’m a cupcake and cookies girl through and through and cake pops didn’t whip my cream the way those two did.  I was extremely defensive and resentful over any statement proclaiming that cupcakes were out and cake pops were in (as if!).  I hated any type of discussion that involved the contrived perception of food as trendy and even though I still do, I’ve been able to put aside and ignore those superficial ideas and embrace cake pops for what they really are: baking artistry.  I started flipping through beautiful cake pop books and fall asleeping at night with ideas for cake pop colour schemes and cake flavours dancing in my head.  Nothing could replace or erase the love of cupcakes and cookies, but cake pops were making its entrance into my realm of creativity and I was happy to let it share the same space as my beloved cupcakes and cookies.

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