Sweet Summer Indulgences – Lemon Meringue Ice Cream & Birthday Cookie Sandwiches at Bakerbots, Part II!

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Power on…initiating dessert assembly…all sweet systems go.  Brace yourself because Bakerbots is set to invade and take over your heart and sweet tooth!  Cakes, pies, tarts, macarons, cupcakes, biscotti, cookies, ice cream, ice cream cookie sandwiches; THIS is the place to eat your weight in sugar!  I have wanted to make a Bakerbots post for so long but I wanted to wait until I had something a little more substantial than a bowl of burnt marshmallow ice cream to show you all!  I honestly don’t even remember how I found out about Bakerbots.  All I remember is, I found about this glorious dessert haven soon after it opened a little more than a year ago at the beginning of last summer and was living vicariously through my friend Wini who had already been there several times before I had even made my first visit! 

When Bakerbots first opened its bakery doors last year in 2011 in Bloorcourt Village on Delaware Ave., their hours were strictly weekends only and evening hours during the latter part of the week.  And given how my schedule at the time still followed a very regimented daytime weekday routine, I never got around to trying any of their amazing desserts until many months later.  Now that my schedule has done a complete 180 (weekdays are pretty much a write-off now!), I can skip on over to Bakerbots whenever I want and it feels amazing! 

There is so much to love about Bakerbots Baking: their selection, their quality of desserts, their aesthetic, and their niche.  First off, I think Bakerbots fills a much-needed void in our city.  We have cupcakeries.  We have ice cream parlours.  Heck, we even have some teahouses and dessert sit-down spots.  But aside from Wanda’s Pie in the Sky and Sweet Bliss Baking Company, there aren’t very many spots that offer this type of homemade, from-scratch selection. 

Sometimes you just feel like a slice of pie.  Or a piece of cake with some ice cream.  Sometimes you just want to go to a place where you know there’s going to be something to suit your every mood, your every craving.  A place where you don’t have to dine-in and have a server wait on you.  A place that has a little picnic table out front and a little bench and a table inside in case you do want to stay and enjoy your treat.  A place that’s sunny and bright and fun and happy.  And while they don’t focus on things like donuts or truffles, they cover such a wide spectrum of dessert you don’t even have the heart to care, not when the sweets are as good as theirs and not when the menu and selection are constantly evolving, keeping things fresh and interesting all the time.  

Bakerbots is the place to be if you want to throw caution to the wind and have yourself a dessert meal.  Have you ever blown off the usual savoury lunch or dinner in favour of a dessert meal?  You know, instead of having soup and sandwiches or pasta and veggies or meat and potatoes, you go out and opt for a nice big ice cream sundae or a plate of dessert crepes and waffles or a slice of cake with ice cream and treat it as your meal.  I have and it is always SO MUCH FUN when I do.  As much as I love the idea of it though, I don’t do it often.  I want to, but I just don’t because it’s just not healthy on a regular basis!  But when I do go for it maybe once or twice a year?  Bakerbots is what I would want at my beck and call. 

Their prices are reasonable (very typical for both small and large desserts, coming at around $1.50-$3 for smaller items like single giant cookies and cupcakes, and $3-$5 for larger items like their giant ice cream cookie sandwiches, cake and pie slices, and more), their portions are big (monstrous is the only word that is adequate enough to describe their ice cream cookie sandwiches), and there are so many different flavours of everything!

Their ice cream is courtesy of Ed’s Real Scoop and they rotate what they have on hand on a regular basis, based on the types of desserts they bake every day, seasonal flavours, and the types of flavours that mesh really well together.  The big ticket at Bakerbots is the giant ice cream cookie sandwiches ($4-$6 based on whether you get a half or a whole) and on their big menu chalkboard, they always list the ice cream flavours that are available for the day (espresso,dark chocolate, French mint, cinnamon, burnt marshmallow, raspberry, sweet cream, burnt toffee, and lemon meringue just to rattle off a handful!), the types of cookies that are figuratively in the cookie jar (The Evertything Birthday, ginger molasses, peanut butter, fudgy cocoa), and the pairings that the staff thinks would kick butt. 

  The great thing about the ice cream cookie sandwiches at Bakerbots is that you can either have a whole one or a half and you can also choose a staff-pick combination or go all out and combine whatever ice cream you want with whatever cookie you want!  I opted for a half (and no, I wasn’t being a dessert wimp – I was here after weekend brunch!) using an Everything Birthday cookie (nothing wrong with continuing the birthday festivities in my book!) with lemon meringue-a-tang ice cream!              

Holy mother of pearl.  I now know why everyone goes bat apeing crazy over Bakerbots’ ice cream cookie sandwiches; they are beyond huge and they are fantastic!  My half sandwich was the size of a brick, it was so super thick, and it was so, so yummy.  The lemon meringue ice cream is so fruity and citrusy and creamy with a hint of vanilla with lots of punchy lemon flavour and the Evertything Birthday is such a fun cookie.  It’s sweet like warm vanilla and it’s exactly what you would expect of an aweome chewy sugar cookie with sprinkles!

And the other amazing thing about the ice cream cookie sandwich?  It doesn’t melt into a goopy mess!  I mean, yes, it’s ice cream and it does melt eventually, but it’s made in such a way that it stays frozen for a good portion of time so that you can actually enjoy the body of it and the taste of cookie with ice cream without having to rush through it for fear of it melting all over the place.  The cookies, while chewy, are so nice and sturdy so you don’t have to worry about it crumbling or getting soggy because of the ice cream.  It’s remarkable!  And this is only the beginning, everyone.  I have a scrapbook layout all planned out for Bakerbots, I’m already looking forward to my next visit, and we’ll see how many different types of dessert I’ll have posted from here by the end of the year! 

*****

Bakerbots is located at 205 Delaware Ave by Ossington subway station, nearest major intersection being Bloor Street West and Ossington Ave. in Bloorcourt Village.  Bakerbots specializes in all things sweet with desserts and baked goods being churned out by the truckload!  They are part bakery, part design studio, part ice cream parlour, and full on dessert emporium!  Their hours of operation: Tuesday-Thursday, 6pm-10pm (ice cream treats only); Friday, 4pm-11pm; Saturday, 11am-11pm; Sunday, 11am-10pm.  You can visit their site HERE.

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The Cupcakes, Cookies, & Cakes in the Hat – A Photo Spotlight on Dessert Oasis, Bakerbots, in Bloorcourt Village, Part I!

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*****

Bakerbots is located at 205 Delaware Ave by Ossington subway station, nearest major intersection being Bloor Street West and Ossington Ave. in Bloorcourt Village.  Bakerbots specializes in all things sweet with desserts and baked goods being churned out by the truckload!  They are part bakery, part design studio, part ice cream parlour, and full on dessert emporium!  Their hours of operation: Tuesday-Thursday, 6pm-10pm (ice cream treats only); Friday, 4pm-11pm; Saturday, 11am-11pm; Sunday, 11am-10pm.  You can visit their site HERE.  Part II full write-up post coming tomorrow!

Country Sweet Chic – Jams, Cupcakes, Tarts, Whoopie Pies and More at Sweet Bliss Baking Company, Part I

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*****

Sweet Bliss Baking Company is located at 1304 Queen Street East in Leslieville, two blocks east of Leslie St.  Sweet Bliss Baking Company offers an assortment of sweet treats including cupcakes, tarts, cookies, and brownies, as well as coffee drinks, gifts, and more.  Hours and days of operation to be posted!

Cupcake Heaven in My Mouth – Sweets, Fillings, and Boston Cream & Lemon Cupcakes at Yummy Stuff, Part II!

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You know a cupcake and dessert shop has you in the palm of their hand when it makes you weak in the knees and abnormally impulsive.  A minute after I walked into Yummy Stuff, I was piecing together a scrapbook layout in my mind’s eye even before I had even taken my camera out to start snapping and immediately after I enjoyed the heavenly blissfulness of their cupcakes, I wanted to hightail it on back to the shop!  You’d think that one cupcake shop trip would suffice for the day, but I was thisclose to disrupting my afternoon errands for the purposes of going back and let me tell you, the cupcake fanatic in me was fuming when I walked the other way and ultimately decided to save the second trip for another day.  Willpower, my lovelies, WILLPOWER.

Yummy Stuff, with their iconic bright green mixing whisk logo, is located in a neighbourhood that is surprisingly accessible.  It wasn’t until I started walking around and getting my geographical barings that I realized how easy it was to connect the dots around the city.  First off, it’s on Queen Street West so you have the Queen streetcar at your service to and from the sweet shop.  Second of all, it’s a hop, skip, and step away from Roncesvalles Ave. which is an open door to exploring the revitalized foodielicious Roncesvalles neighbourhood (remember my post about Seventh Sister Bakery?), a neighbourhood that holds so much Polish history and culture among many other gems.

And given how walkable the “downtown core” streets are northbound and southbound (basically, everything south of Bloor and on) you can easily walk south to Liberty Village, and northeast to Dundas West (Brockton Village and Little Portugal), Little Italy and the west end of College Street, and Dufferin Mall and Bloordale/Bloorcourt Village.  The exploration options are endless!  Sometimes my cupcake trips are spontaneous (the hankering never really goes away), but most of the time, they’re planned and if you want in on a little secret, it’s acually how I plan my days.  That’s right.  I plan my activities and routes around what cupcake shop I want to visit on that particular day.  Crazy?  Maybe a little.  Effective?  Very.  Madly in love with cupcakes?  Totally.

Yummy Stuff is a space that is similar to that of The Wedding Cake Shoppe in that their workspace, station, and design studio is somewhat visible from behind the counter.  They are purely walk-in and take-out only though – no tables and chairs here, so be prepared to eat your treats elsewhere.  And they have MANY treats!  In addition to their custom designed cakes, cupcakes, and decorated sugar cookies, they have canisters full of giant cookies (snickerdoodles, chocolate ginger, chocolate chip, and peanut butter among others), lemon squares and tarts, brownies, peanut butter chocolate squares, and other special cookies including shortbread, lintzer cookies, and chocolate toffee butter cookies! 

Selection will vary daily and weekly, but rest assured that there will never be a shortage of options!  Prices range from $1-$4 for most treats.  I want to go back as soon as I can so I can try one of their chocolate ginger cookies, a decorated sugar cookie (they have sugar cookies decorated and in the shape of cupcakes and ice cream cones, oh my god), and of course, many more cupcakes!

Cupcakes come in two sizes: regular ($2.75 each, $15 for half a dozen) and mini ($1 each) and on the day I went, they had 8 flavours to choose from.  Like many other cupcake shops, their cupcakes operate on a rotating system which means what you see one day may not be there the next.  Classics such as vanilla, chocolate, and red velvet would be present on a daily basis but all other flavours are fair game on any given day.  Their menu (taken straight off their website) includes banana, carrot, chocolate, coconut, lemon, mango, vanilla, raspberry, red velvet, and a special flavour of the month.  This month’s decadent treat?  BOSTON CREAM!

I picked up a lemon cupcake and a Boston Cream (wouldn’t you?!) and oh my goodness, they were both heavenly, especially the lemon one!  Both cupcakes had a vanilla cake bottom and while the lemon cupcake was swirled with frosting, the Boston Cream was covered in a chocolate ganache with chocolate sprinkles.  AND they both had fillings!  Not all bakeries make their cupcakes with fillings.  Some might have a few with fillings for special occasions, but off the top of my head, For the Love of Cake in Liberty Village is the only cupcake shop who bakes every single one of their cupcakes with fillings in them. 

The Boston Cream cupcake was filled with creamy custard and had a moist, vanilla sponge-cake like texture to it.  Even though it sounds extremely rich, it’s really not and it’s actually relatively light in comparison to the donut!  It’s not heavy at all and I think it’s a great cupcake that would appeal to people who want something decadent but who don’t necessarily want to feel heavy or gluttonous afterward.

And the lemon.  OH MY GOD THE LEMON.  Off the bat, this belongs in the Top 5 (possibly even Top 3) Most Amazing Lemon Cupcakes in Toronto.  My first goes to The Cupcake Shoppe’s Lemon Drop (read: the Lemon Drop, NOT the Lov’n Lemon!), then it’s just a kerfluffle of scrumptiousness that I can’t figure out.  There’s the lemon meringue cupcake from For the Love of Cake, the lemon one from Bake Sale on the Kingsway, and this one from Yummy Stuff.  This was SO.DAMN.GOOD.  A sweet, fruity, tangy frosting (read: frosting, not whippy buttercream or mousse) swirled on top of vanilla cake with a lemon curd filling inside.  The texture of the frosting is perfect (not gritty, not thin and watery, and not thick and cracking) and the flavour and taste is bang on.  It’s not cloyingingly or artificially sweet, but it packs BIG flavour that left my friends and I taken aback in the best way possible.  It it truly one of the best tasting cupcakes EVER and I would come back to one a million times over. 

I was curious when I saw Yummy Stuff’s website had a blog so I clicked on their link and happily found out about their special cupcakes of the month!  They have monthly entries on their blog providing updates on seasonal goodies, dessert projects, and new cupcake flavours and I’m really happy they have this as it gives everyone a more personal connection to them and a heads up about new and delicious treats!  I only wish I had come during Christmas because their dessert line-up looked amazing!  Sigh.  You have to start somewhere though and at least now I know how delicious their cupcakes really are and can look forward to eleventy billion more visits to come.   

*****

Yummy Stuff is located at 1660 Queen Street West in the west end Parkdale neighbourhood, east of Roncesvalles Ave.  They are open Tuesday-Sunday, from 10am-7pm from Tuesday-Friday, 9am-6pm on Saturdays, and 12pm noon-5pm on Sundays.  They are closed on Mondays.  Visit their official website here.

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.     

It’s Pedestrian Sunday in Kensington Market Tomorrow! Head On Over to Wanda’s Pie the Sky, Part I

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Given how tomorrow marks August’s Pedestrian Sunday in Kensington Market, I thought it would be super appropriate to crank out my posts on Wanda’s Pie in the Sky and a new scrapbook layout to go with it!  I love Pedestrian Sundays and I only wish Sundays were a little more convenient for me transportation-wise because if they were, you can bet I’d make it to the market for this at the end of every month!  In a nutshell, the last Sunday of every month from May to October is Pedestrian Sunday.  The roads are completely blocked off in Kensington to motor traffic so you can skip and twirl in the middle of the streets with your delicious food and cute purchases swinging about to your heart’s content.  There’s often live music out on the streets, vendors and shop owners bring out all their wares, and there’s always some really cute activity happening in the market.  Case in point: giant, larger-than-life Scrabble on the street with square foot tiles!  Anyone who hasn’t been should skip on over, stat!  And while you’re there, check out Wanda’s Pie in the Sky.

Wanda’s Pie in the Sky is one of my favourite spots in Kensington and for the longest time, I always thought it was a dessert place exclusively selling pies, cakes, and the like.  I was so wrong.  And I don’t often say this, but I’m so happy I was wrong.  Wanda’s is, quite possibly, one of the BEST lunch spots in the city for a lunch date and I say this not only because of the sheer volume of food available, but also because Wanda’s is vegetarian and vegan-friendly, which makes it PERFECT for carnies and veggies alike. 

I was gobsmacked when I walked in and discovered just how much delicious food was inside those pastel brick walls.  Pasta salads, vegetarian sandwiches, soups, pizza flatbreads, quiche pies, vegan cupcakes, soft-serve ice cream, cookies, macarons, tarts, cakes, and yes, lots and lots of PIE!  It is incredible and because I like to tease you all, this is a teaser post to tide you over until tomorrow’s big fat Part II, complete with scrapbook layout and the prettiest, coolest, most awesomet cake you’ll ever lay your eyes – and possibly teeth – on.  Hint: look at my header image 😉  Enjoy!

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Wanda’s Pie in the Sky is located at 287 Augusta Ave. in Kensington Market.  Wanda’s Pie in the Sky is located in between Nassau and College St.  They are open every day from 8am-9pm.  For more info on placing orders, attending classes, and dessert items they serve, check out their website here.