Making Christmas Memories at Bobbette & Belle’s Newest Location with Tea, Cookies, Alfajores & Macarons!

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I know Christmas comes and goes every year and I know it might not be the happiest occasion for some folks, but for me, it’s my favourite time of year.  I love Christmas even more than I love summer and that’s saying a lot because my birthday is during the summer and I love me my birthday celebrations.  I love Christmas so much and I look forward to the season and everything it brings each year and I always feel so happy when everything I love is happening within a span of a month (seeing friends, holiday menus, holiday displays, exchanging presents, and taking a ridiculous amount of photos of all of the aforementioned) and when it’s all over I always feel a little nostalgic and sad.  So I try my hardest to soak up every moment and to make as many fun memories as possible.

I made many of these wonderful memories yesterday when I spent one of the best days ever with my best friend for the holidays.  Part of the ultra fabulous day included an afternoon stop at Bobbette & Belle’s 2nd location in uptown Yonge-Lawrence village for hot drinks and sweets!

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Not only am I so in love with Christmas but I am absolutely smitten with Bobbette & Belle’s newest location.  I didn’t even KNOW they opened a 2nd location until late last week when I was just out and about in the area and happened to walk past it.  I was so stunned I nearly shouted, “WHAT!?” right out on the sidewalk.  Sigh.  This is what happens when I stop blogging and, for the most part, being tuned out of all my foodie outlets for nearly half a year.

I have no idea when Bobbette & Belle opened this new location but am I ever sure glad they did!  I love it even more than their original flagship on Queen Street East.  While the Queen East location is big and airy, the Yonge-Lawrence location has such a warm, comforting, communal feel to it.  The decor and aesthetic is very similar: gorgeous cake pedestals displayed on shelves, beautiful china dishes and tea plates hung stylishly on the wall, a chalkboard menu, wood floors, and platters and stands full of pastries and sweets (tarts, cupcakes, macarons, cakes, scones, cookies and so much more!) just waiting to be devoured.  The difference?  The cafe aspect and feel.  The Yonge-Lawrence one screams Parisian cafe to me with its small tables and seating section in the back and the beautiful cushioned booth seating right up in the front by the storefront window (which can seat 4 sets of 2) is prime real estate, baby.  It’s bright, it’s soothing, and with the cushiony seating and knitted pillows, it’s the perfect spot to spend time with someone over a delicious dessert and hot drink.

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I was so excited finding out about their new location that I took advantage of the timing and ordered something holiday-themed: a Christmas tree-shaped shortbread cookie (which is actually what I had the last time I was at Bobbette & Belle during Christmas, go figure!  Check out that blog post here) along with two delightful macarons in cassis and chocolate mint, an alfajores cookie, and a nice big hot steaming mug of Citron Calm tea from their selection of Sloane Fine Teas!  I am over the moon that they serve Sloane teas as their teas are delicious.

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Ugh, this was such a delicious afternoon treat!  I knew I loved their macarons and shortbread cookies and now I love their alfajores cookies.  A lot.  The cookie has such great texture (sturdy yet soft and moist) and the caramel was nice and thick and gooey without being mushy and the coconut it was rolled in gave it the perfect crunch.  LOVE.  And in addition to the Christmas-themed shortbread cookies, they had a chocolate candy cane peppermint cupcake on hand as well as some apple caramel pastries, apple cider, and several other holiday yummies.

Their new location is in an accessible part of town (walking distance from Lawrence subway station) and it’s in an area that I really enjoy being in as I love the Yonge-Lawrence and Yonge-Eglinton neighbourhoods.  I cannot wait to come back for scones and tea, or maybe a tart with a macaron, or a slice of cake, or just more alfajores cookies.  And a hundred plus more cups of tea.

*****

Bobbette & Belle is located at 3347 Yonge Street on the east side of Yonge at the corner of Snowdon Ave. (Fairlawn Ave. being the street on the west side of Yonge) in the Yonge-Lawrence Village neighbourhood.  Their hours are 9am-6:30pm from Monday-Friday and 9am-6pm on Saturdays and Sundays.  Their original flagship location is in Leslieville at 1121 Queen Street East.

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Parisian Macarons and All Things Sweet & Dainty – Scrapbooking Bobbette & Belle With Pink and Sparkles

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What happens when I scrapbook photos of sweet treats from Bobbette & Belle?  I run rampant with the pink and bling!  This is the scrapbook layout I created with the photos I took over the holidays of the shop on Queen Street East, and of my chocolate candy cane macaron and Christmas tree shaped shortbread cookie.  I incorporated most of the photos from that holiday visit into this layout and saved the hot chocolate ones for the layout I posted a week ago here

Today was a goood scrapbooking today because I managed to use up quite a few supplies!  Using up a sheet of stickers or emptying a package of embellishments is one of the most satisfying feelings.  I managed to use up my rhinestone sheets, the rest of my paper lace doilies, some small sticker sheets, and I’m slowly but surely chipping away at my 4×6 Christmas paper mat pad from eons ago!  I was going for a sweet and dainty pale pink layout with lots of punchy splashes of red, white, and green with lacey accents and LOTS of bling and sparkle!  The sparkles come from adhesive rhinestone embellishments that are perfect for accenting corners and borders and adding sparkly flourishes across the page.  Not bad for a dollar a sheet from the dollar store!

I wasn’t able to try any of their cupcakes during this visit, but you know I’ll be going back for them sooner or later!  It’s not Christmas anymore and that means new decorations and decor and that means new photos to take and new sweets to try!  After staring at their cupcake menu online, the mango passionfruit, raspberry, gianduja, apple spice, espresso, pumpkin, and lemon ALL have my name on them.  Just not all at once.  So, in the meantime, you can take a look at the original Bobbette & Belle blog posts from December here: Part I and Part II.

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Scrapbooking materials used: baby pink, Christmas red, mint green, grass green, white cardstock (Recollections); Christmas patterned paper mat pad (Me & My Big Ideas); green pinstripe patterned paper (Recollections Basics); adhesive rhinestone border embellishments (Dollarama); cutlery plate stickers (Sticko); red alphabet stickers (Recollections); paper doilies (Wilton); red and white heart printed ribbon (Celebrate It by Michaels); floral bubble stickers; medium circle scallop paper punch (ek success).

For the Love of Hot Cocoa, Snowflakes, and Christmas Scrapbooking – The Wintry Hot Chocolate Series Layout

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I’m so excited to be posting this layout I’m almost jumping out of my skin!  I’ve been looking forward to scrapbooking Christmas and winter photos and layouts for ages and now that there’s actually some snow on the ground, my holiday scrapbooking mood has sky-rocketed straight through the roof!  This month has been a whirlwind with plans not panning out, my uncharacteristic unpreparedness, and Christmas coming and going faster than I had anticipated, so I really didn’t get into a scrapbooking groove until after Christmas.  I was chewing on ideas for over a month, but for whatever reason, part of me just wasn’t ready to dig into the paper and stickers.  I wanted to lose myself in it and enjoy every minute, not be distracted and moody over it. 

Even though I feel like I let precious time pass me by, I’m so much happier I scrapbooked when I did because it was SO MUCH FUN!  This is my Christmas-holiday-winter hot chocolate layout with photos of the hot chocolate I’ve featured in the Hot Chocolate Series: the nutella hot chocolate from Le Gourmand, the peppermint hot chocolate from Le Merceria, and the rich hot chocolate with blow-torched marshmallow from Bobbette & Belle.  I’ve been wanting to use a red, green, blue, and white colour scheme for some time now so I went to town with the ribbon and cardstock and paper and ended up with this!

There have been times where I’ve scrapbooked every day for a month or more and there have been other times where I’ve gone weeks without even touching my go-to scrapbook tin.  Every time I scrapbook though, it feels like no time has passed and I’m happiest when I get to surround myself with photos and memories and all my art supplies.  Out of all the themes I enjoy scrapbooking (birthdays, Valentine’s, art, and friendship among others), Christmas and winter are my absolute favourites. 

A new year means a time to reflect and a time to look forward and when I look back on my scrapbooking, I think back to when I started 8×8 scrapbooking full force over 3 years ago (prior to that I was actually doing 8.5 x 11!) and I’m reminded of the very first 8×8 scrapbook album I made which was a Christmas and winter one.  I’m reminded of how excited I was to find such a pretty album at the store (a gorgeous chocolate brown suede album with a magnetic flap that had the word “Memories” stitched across it), all the fun I had making those 20 pages, filling those plastic sleeves and making the album fat, and all the Christmas memories I got to look back on.  It was an amazing month of scrapbooking and it made me feel so free and so alive.  I’m hoping that 2012 will bring just as much happiness and inspiration. 

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Scrapbooking materials used: Periwinkle, powder blue, Christmas red, grass green, emerald green, and white cardstock (Recollections); Christmas patterned paper (Me & My Big Ideas Christmas mat paper pad); hot chocolate, cocoa, and peppermint adhesive embellishments (Jolee’s Boutique); blue ribbon with green polka dots; green satin ribbon; “Lollipop” alphabet stickers (Autumn Leaves, Creativity Inc.); brown alphabet stickers (K&Company); black alphabet stickers with white polka dots (atd); green foil leaves; duochrome and iridescent snowflakes; medium scallop circle paper punch (ek success); circle paper punch; corner rounder paper punch.

The Hot Chocolate Series: The Decadent Hot Chocolate With Blow-Torched Marshmallow – Bobbette & Belle, Part II

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I’ll be completely honest: I had a little help with this one.  A little accidental magazine help.  While doing a little happy-go-lucky Christmas shopping, I picked up the newest issue of Toronto Life and started paging through the first few pages when my eyes roamed over the Table of Contents and saw the words, “hot chocolate”, “marshmallow”, and “blow torch”.  A hot chocolate with a jumbo blow-torched marshmallow from Bobbette & Belle?!  Well, colour me ecstatic!  I didn’t even flip to the article because 1) those words were really all the incentive I needed and 2) I didn’t want the element of surprise and anticipation to be taken away so I willed myself not to look at the photo in the magazine.  I would go to Bobbette & Belle and see the wonderful hot chocolate masterpiece with my very own hot chocolate hungry eyes.

I was so excited about this!  A hot chocolate with not just a “toasted” marshmallow, but a blow-torched marshmallow!  I swear I’m not a pyro, but I am fascinated with the blow torch.  My dad and I used to experiment with our handy propane tank blow torch when I was growing up and we used to use it for art projects and I absolutely loved it when my dad used to whip out the torch to cook.  I love how its usage can transform the look and appearance of food.  Imagine the toasty, frothy peaks of meringue or cream on a pie or a tart.  Or the juxtasposition of a delicate, yet edgy, blow-torched souffle.  The rough and tumble part of me has always been in love with handywork and I’ve dreamed of having my own workbench and I guess the blow torch is my fun tool of choice! 😀 

Bobbette & Belle has a number of coffee drinks and teas on their drink menu designed to accompany their pastries and sweets.  They serve lattes, mocha lattes, cappuccinos, espressos, machiattos, teas, regular coffee, and of course, their hot chocolate work of art.  I don’t know if this hot chocolate is available at their 2nd retail location inside The Bay on Queen Street, but I will find out. 

Their hot chocolate, priced at $4.25, is the chocolatiest beverage I have ever had.  If you love rich and decadent, this hot chocolate has your name written all over it.  This is not your average hot chocolate packaged powder mix with hot water!  A lot of the time, we’re used to hot chocolate that’s a little more diluted.  Bobbette & Belle’s hot chocolate is the exact OPPOSITE of diluted.  It’s thick, it’s roasty, and makes you feel like your drinking luxurious drinking chocolate.  It’s unlike anything I’ve ever had and this hot chocolate drinks like a meal.  It is not for the faint of heart – I couldn’t even finish it all in one sitting because it was so decadent!  If you’re having this, don’t go at it alone because it might be too overwhelming otherwise.  My suggestion is to have it with a “blank canvas” type of dessert, something that isn’t too sweet and that can soak up the richness.  I was dunking my Christmas tree shaped shortbread cookie into it and having an absolute blast!

And the marshmallow.  Oh, the delightful, jumbo, torched marshmallow.  I smiled so big when my hot chocolate was being made.  After one of the nice girls filled my cup with the hot beverage, she crouched down to just below the surface of the counter and sure enough, I heard the “pftshhhh!” sound of the torch doing it’s magic.  Just look at it.  A white and caramelized wintry globe of frothy, gooey, sweet marshmallow floating in the depths of chocolate euphoria.  There are few things in this world that bring giggly joy more than gooey marshmallows.  Every sip was a rich taste of dark chocolate and marshmallow tickling your upper lip and tongue.  And although most of the marshmallow was gooey, sweet, and frothy, you could taste that sweet, crunchy caramelization off the top. 

Bobbette & Belle’s hot chocolate is the liquid embodiment of a s’more and the type of winter treat you envision yourself savouring in front of the fire in a warm and cozy environment after a day of tobogganing and making snow forts and snow angels.  It’s far from a snowy wonderland here in Toronto at the moment (more like a rainy, soggy mess), but with this special hot chocolate, it’s not too hard to daydream and pretend that it is.

 

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Bobbette & Belle is located at 1121 Queen Street East, just east of Jones Ave.  They are open 7 days a week from 7:30am-6:30pm Monday-Friday, 9am-6pm on Saturday, and 9am-5pm on Sunday.  These are their holiday operating hours and they will be closed on the 25th, 26th, and 27th, as well as on January 1st and 2nd.  Visit their website here for product descriptions, information on orders, and photos.

Bright Green Chocolate Candy Cane Macarons & Christmas Tree Shortbread Cookies – Bobbette & Belle, Part I

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If there was a pastry shop, cupcakery, and macaron heaven fit for a princess here in Toronto, Bobbette & Belle would be it!  Ever since I found out about Allyson Bobbitt and Sarah Bell’s queendom of sweets from Where Toronto magazine months and months ago, I’ve been envisioning pastel colours and chocolate cookie biscuits and macarons and pastries and beautiful shop that would render me speechless.  Or at the very least a hushed, “Oooo” and “ahhh”.  And “Oooo” and “ahhh” I did.  After passing by Bobbette & Belle on the Queen streetcar more times than I can count on the fingers of my hand, I made the trip especially for the holidays and I squealed as I stepped inside the beautiful shop.  Wreaths!  A Christmas tree!  Poinsettias!  Edible Christmas gifts!  HOT CHOCOLATE, CUPCAKES, AND MACARONS.  I wanted to sprinkle flower petals while pirouetting around the lovely shop.  Oh, this was going to be fun.

Located in Leslieville, Bobbette & Belle’s pastry shop is beautiful, plain and simple.  The spacious interior oozes romantic, floral, Victorian, cozy, and modern rustic with its plush arm chairs, coffee table, couch, long wooden bench tables, large wooden communal table (perfect for cake order consultations!), stools, and shelves lined with sweets, gifts, and B&B’s gorgeous decorated cakes and wedding cakes.  The space is illuminated by natural light streaming in from the front and side windows and you feel like you’ve walked into a pretty in pink music box fairy land with dainty, feminine framed art on the walls.

Don’t be completely fooled by the flowers and bows though; behind the sweetness lies a subtle touch of fun attitude.  Nothing says “we are bakers and pastry chefs, we love sweets, and we’re damn proud of it!” like the framed criss-crossed whipping whisks!  Aside from those framed whisks, my favourite thing in the shop is a giant framed print listing some of Toronto’s popular neighbourhoods in big block letters on a turquoise background.  It’s bold, it’s punchy, and it makes it known that Toronto is home to B&B.

I know many have been to Bobbette & Belle and I know a number of people who’ve done plenty of press on them, featuring photos of cupcakes, macarons, and other sweet confections.  I never feel contrived though when writing about such popular places such as Bobbette & Belle because the perspective and feeling will always be different.  It doesn’t matter how many people know about them, how many times they’ve been showcased in media outlets, or how many photos I see of their products.  Everyone’s experience is their own and that’s why I don’t mind writing about places that probably seem like old-hat to others because what’s familiar and known to some is exciting and new for me, and vice versa.  Things continously and consistently change and even though I feel like I’m late to the party half the time, I feel like this blog is my way of seeing things with fresh eyes and for Christmas, I finally got to see B&B up close and in person.

Although French macarons are at the heart of Bobbette & Belle’s creation and birth, the shop specializes in professionally decorated cakes and wedding cakes, cupcakes, cookies, meringues, tarts, whoopie pies, and plenty of sweet pastries.  Along one wall you’ll find B&B’s retail section where you can pick up already packaged yummies and gifts including meringues (candy cane ones for the holidays!), marshmallows, cookies, and more.  Their selection of sweet delights include creamy buttercream frosted cupcakes ($2.95) in flavours such as mango passionfruit, apple spice, espresso, pumpkin, and lemon among others. 

They also had cake stands filled with blueberry scones ($3.25), pumpkin tarts ($3.75), toffee pudding ($3.75), Christmas shortbread cookies ($1.00 for small ones, $1.25 for large ones), chocolate peanut butter whoopie pies, vanilla raspberry whoopie pies, custards, tarts, and Christmas cupcakes for holiday orders in the glass display case, and of course, macarons!  Priced at $2 a piece (which is very reasonable and average priced across the board), flavorus include milk chocolate salted caramel, gingerbread, dark chocolate hazelnut, pistachio, and my pick for the day, chocolate candy cane!

I know most of you would have expected me to inhale a cupcake because I love cupcakes and would eat them every day if the opportunity presented itself, but there’s always a time to be unpredictable.  I went against the grain and instead of a cupcake, I had me a Christmas tree shaped shortbread cookie and a bright, vibrant green chocolate candy cane macaron instead!  C’mon, Christmas themed macarons?!  I would be a fool not to introduce one of those to my sweet teeth. 

The chocolate ganache filling was wonderfully thick and fudgy and rich without being overly sweet, overly bitter, or overly anything!  If I had to compare the chocolate filling to anything, I would say it tastes like soft, fudgy brownies.  I absolutely adored the shade of green used for the candy cane flavoured meringue shells and I really appreciated the subtley in candy cane flavour.  The flavour pattern was like a gradient, where it started off subtle and then gradually became stronger as you bit closer to the center of the macaron.

It was a perfect marriage between chocolate and candy cane flavour because the macaron wasn’t overpowered with stingy peppermint and the candy cane flavour had a bit of sweetness to it that I loved.  Some people might like that breathy pepperminty feeling, but I don’t prefer it because it ends up tasting like frozen ginger mixed with mouthwash and all the dessert-like sweetness flys out the window.  And a macaron must be sweet and decadent!  Even when savoury flavours are mixed in, when you eat a macaron it has to feel like you’re eating a dessert, and it has to taste crispy on the outside and airy light just beneath the surface.  The melt-in-your-mouth aspect was bang on and that egg-shell delicacy was definitely there.  I know.  I accidentally nudged the macaron downward with my knuckle (don’t ask!) and heard an egg-shell like crack that reverberated in my ears as I gasped and quickly turned the macaron over to hide the dirty deed.  Sigh.  Anything for a pretty photo.

I have Part II for you all tomorrow and to give you a hint as to what sweet something something I’m showing off, it’s something chocolatey and toasty.  Very toasty 😉  Have a sweet one, everyone.

*****

Bobbette & Belle is located at 1121 Queen Street East, just east of Jones Ave.  They are open 7 days a week from 7:30am-6:30pm Monday-Friday, 9am-6pm on Saturday, and 9am-5pm on Sunday.  These are their holiday operating hours and they will be closed on the 25th, 26th, and 27th, as well as on January 1st and 2nd.  Visit their website here for product descriptions, information on orders, and photos.