A Burst of Spring Colour & Sugar – Cupcakes & Adorable Accessories at Flour Studio, Part I

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Spring colours and pastels are out in full force in Toronto’s cupcake bakeries!  I haven’t been able to snag myself anything Easter related yet (I’m currently daydreaming about a chocolate cupcake with robin’s egg blue frosting and chocolate shavings), but I blame that on my “how many macarons can I eat in a day/week” fest a week and a half ago and sadly, I’m still thinking of when I can stage a redo so I can do it all over again.  Hopping around town for macarons was more fun than I expected and for the first time ever, cupcakes were completely off the radar for the week.  Macarons will definitely be making themselves more noticably present on the blog as the weeks and months go on, but they won’t ever eclipse cupcakes – cupcakes will be always be my greatest love!

I’m slowly chipping away at Toronto’s cupcake scene but I have to say, even though it’s so much fun, it’s insanely difficult!  For every one new cupcake shop that I visit (new to me, not necessarily to the city), another one opens up!  Either that, or I find out about an already-existing shop I never even knew existed!  A new patisserie, Bo Bon, just opened up on Bathurst in North York and there are plenty of other shops on Queen East and in the west end that need my attention.  At least I can say with certainty that TO’s cupcake scene is far from boring!

This month I spent a little more time in the Eglinton West neighbourhood and I came away from my walks with some exciting new food prospects and discoveries!  Some patisseries, a jaw-dropping brunch menu from Hotel Gelato, a potentially fab sushi spot, a nice tea place, and so much more.  Being in the neighbourhood obviously, for me, meant a stop at Flour Studio as well!  Flour Studio is one of my favourite spots not only for their soft and delicious cakes, but also for their giftware.

I paid them a visit earlier this month to get some spring and Easter photos (and yes, a cupcake) and I was ecstastic to see brand new accessories and cupcake merchandise on their shelves.  They had a rainbow of ceramic cake and cupcake stands in pastel shades, adorable decorative cupcake boxes (perfect for that single cupcake!), beautifully decorated cupcake shaped sugar cookies (which you can see at the very top of the first photo), and to my utter delight, gorgeous little yellow bird cages!  How cute would it be to house a little cupcake in it like a carrier?!  Or even just as a decorative piece on the table for tea time or beside a vase of spring flowers.

I hope you all enjoy the photos because there’s plenty more waiting in the wings.  Tomorrow’s part II post will be celebrating one cupcake from Flour Studio in particular, one that contains a special cookie that just happens to be blowing out 100 candles this year!

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Flour Studio is located at 883 Eglinton Ave. West, about a block west of Bathurst St.  They are closed on Mondays and Tuesdays (appointments are exceptional), and are open from 10am-6pm Wednesday-Saturday and from 1oam-3pm on Sundays.  In addition to cupcakes, the shop sells baking accessories, cupcake themed items, stationery, and giftware.

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Zesty, Fruity, Creamy,Chocolatey – The Orange Chocolate Chip Cupcake and Its Friends From Short & Sweet, Part II

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For all you chocolate orange fans, this is for you!  And of course, us cupcake lovers 😀  I love the way places keep things new and exciting by changing things up and introducing new products into their menus.  That’s not to say that I don’t enjoy everyday staples, but it’s really nice knowing that businesses make an effort to keep their clientele and patrons engaged and coming back for more.  Whether it’s through seasonal promotions or cooking up new flavours, it keeps the creative juices flowing. 

In addition to maintaining the permanent rotating menu at Short & Sweet Cupcakes, the cupcakery kicks off each month with a brand spankin’ new cupcake flavour known as their “Flavour of the Month”.  This new flavour is available every day for the duration of the entire month and then taken off the cupcake stands temporarily where a new flavour takes its place.  Now, I know what you’re thinking.  ‘But, but…if I love the flavour so much, I’m going to be heartbroken when they take it away!’  I thought the same thing too.  And I’m feeling the pressure.  I feel terrible for not being able to get my photos developed and scrapbooked in time to keep their “Flavour of the Month” timely, but alas, I am a one-woman show and all I can really do is pass along the “Flavour of the Month” through my blog and twitter.  Not to fret though.  They do custom orders and they bring back old favourites and best sellers every so often.  Case in point: their salted caramel was brought back because of popular demand.  So if you LOVE a particular “Flavour of the Month”, let them know!

There are flavour combinations that everyone is familiar with like the back of their hand.  Combinations like raspberry chocolate, chocolate mint, peanut butter and jelly, the list goes on.  I know for a fact that are MANY who are gaga over chocolate orange.  You know who you are.  You’ve been on the Terry’s chocolate orange bandwagon since the beginning of time (or maybe just since it became popular worldwide) and you pound those balls of chocolate like you’re unleashing a fit of hysterical fiery.  I’ve been there.  The kitchen countertops didn’t work for me so I attempted to crack my Terry’s chocolate orange on my kitchen tiles.  My parents were scared shitless that I would crack the ceramic with my animalistic attacking.  So for those of you who fit that description, you will looooove the “Flavour of the Month” Short & Sweet released in April: orange chocolate chip!

Let me tell you, Short & Sweet continuously and consistently delivers with quality.  You are not biting into some artificial pool of flavour when you eat their cupcakes.  Their orange chocolate chip is so full of body and substance.  The cake base is studded with large chocolate chips with the body and volume resembling a chocolate chip muffin, only less crumbly and, well, better.  Their cakes are fantastic because of the way they are able to sustain their own weight.  I’ve had other cupcakes that have tasted fantastic, but teetered on the brink of cupcake suicide as soon as I took the wrapper off!  Taste is exceptionally important in a cupcake (of course it is – who wants to eat a cupcake that’s dry or stale?), but the form of the cake is just as important.  You want to enjoy the cupcake as whole, not in crumbly bits before you’ve even had a chance to take two bites out of it.  And the frosting.  Oh man, the frosting.  You can literally SEE and TASTE the fruity orange zest in the sweet creamy vanilla orange frosting and the whole shebang is topped off with dark chocolate curls.

It lives up to its name and it caters to so many sweet tooths out there.  It caters to those who adore chocolate chip muffins, it caters to the orange chocolate obsessed, and anyone who enjoys a mix of zesty, fruit, creamy, and chocolatey.  Oh, and for those of you who have taken a particular interest in the photos and who might be wondering how I took these considering the fact that the shop doesn’t have seating…well, I’ve learned to be very resourceful as a food photographer.  When in doubt, improvise.  And walk around your surroundings.  My little cupcake photo shoot was actually taken at the nearby Starbucks 😉

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Short & Sweet Cupcakes is located at 399 Old Orchard Grove, right off of Avenue Rd. south of Wilson Ave. and north of Lawrence Ave. West.  It’s actually a little closer to Wilson than it is to Lawrence, and if you’re taking public transit (like me) the easiest way to get here is to get off at Wilson subway station and take the 96 bus to Avenue Rd. and walk south.  Old Orchard Grove is on the east side of Avenue Rd.  You can also get here by getting off at York Mills subway station and walking west to Avenue Rd. from Yonge.

Scrapbooking materials: olive green and buttercup yellow cardstock (Recollections); patterned paper (The Green Tea stack by DCWV); cooking and baking stickers (Studio18 and Recollections); cupcake embellishments (Jolee’s Boutique); orange slice sticker (Sticko); “Lollipop” alphabet stickers (Autumn Leaves at Creativity Inc.); black and white polka dot alphabet stickers (atd by Momenta).