The Cupcake Connection, Vol.009 – New Places, Spaces & Faces Featuring Prairie Girl Bakery, Cupcakes Leaside & Le Dolci!

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Prairie Girl Bakery in Toronto on King Street East.

Welcome to Part II of this spring’s first Cupcake Connection where we’re talking new places, spaces, and faces!  *NEWS FLASH*: Prairie Girl Bakery is expanding – again!  That’s right folks, the cupcake queen of Toronto’s downtown core with its two existing locations, is opening its 3rd location further up north in YORKVILLE!  Set to open at the end of the month, Prairie Girl will be opening its doors and wafting out the sweet scents of golden buttermilk and dark cocoa cupcakes while rubbing elbows with Louis Vuitton, COACH, Burberry,  and others at BLOOR STREET WEST & AVENUE ROAD!  Can you tell I’m ecstatic?!  Prairie Girl Bakery.  With a 3rd location.  In Yorkville.  You guys know what this means.

I can stuff my face with cupcakes while shopping my heart out at MAC and Sephora and Williams Sonoma and Whole Foods and…and…*catches breath*

BREATHE, DEB.

Prairie Girl Bakery cupcakes, Black Forest and Cherry Cheesecake cupcakes and Treats of the Week

Black Forest on Dark Cocoa and Cherry Cheesecake on Golden Buttermilk. Both on Prairie Girl Bakery’s Treats of the Week menu!

Prairie Girl Bakery mini cupcakes in Chocolate Peppermint and Cookies and Cream

Prairie Girl Bakery mini cupcake heaven – Chocolate Peppermint and Cookies and Cream.

This is so exciting!!  I got the news from Amy at Prairie Girl (thank you, Amy!) and almost started doing the Elaine dance from Seinfeld.  It’s just so perfect.  It’s within the heart of Yorkville, one of the best places to window shop and stroll in the summer, it’s walking distance from Queen’s Park (hello, perfect cupcake picnic area!), and close to so many of my favourite shopping, strolling, and eating destinations (I’m looking at you Annex, Kensington Market, Fresh, and Mela!).  I can’t wait to visit their new location and of course, I’ll report back with photos of the shop and of whichever delightful frosted confection I decide to sink my sweet teeth into on that particular day.  Keep your eyes on the cupcake for more details to come!

While Prairie Girl is set to open their new, 3rd location in the city, one cupcake shop has set up shop for the very first time in Toronto, this time on the east end in Leaside at 85 Laird Drive.  If you haven’t already, give a warm welcome to Cupcakes by Heather & Lori!  Known as The Cupcake Girls on their W network television show, Heather and Lori hail from Vancouver with 6 cupcake shops under their belt in BC alone!  I haven’t paid a visit to the shop yet but I’ve definitely given their site (www.cupcakesonline.com) more than one look-see and there are so many flavours I want to try: Lava Flow (raspberry chocolate with cream cheese frosting and raspberry dollop); Blue Hawaii (blue vanilla frosting and coconut); Raspberry Beret (raspberry filled lemon cake with lemon frosting and raspberry dollop); and Pecan Brownie (pecan brownie cake with caramel and chocolate chips inside and dolloped with cream cheese frosting).

Cupcakes Online. Leaside. website

Cupcakes Leaside and their adorable website!

I’m really looking forward to paying them my first visit not just because it’s a cupcake shop that looks adorable and makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside but because Leaside is an area that I haven’t really explored yet.  With the exception of going to Rahier and Patisserie La Cigogne on Macaron Day, the area is practically unchartered territory for me so there will be so much to see and do when I do end up going.

And since we’re on the topic of brand spankin’ new, our dear Le Dolci has introduced a slew of new classes to their already fab selection!  New to their cupcake class line-up: Cupcake Bouquets!  This class is meant to unleash every ounce of creativity in you as you create edible works of art.  Completely floral-themed, the cupcake bouquet class with have you creating cupcake bouquets for centrepieces, sweet tables, gifts and more as you learn how to pipe floral patterns with buttercream.  If you were to take this class and Le Dolci’s Advanced Piping Techniques class where you practice piping roses, pansies, and daffodils, you’d be a whiz at piping flowers and basically creating cupcake floral arrangements!  The first Cupcake Bouquet Making and Arrangement class is set for May 12 from 12pm-2pm and is priced at $80 +HST/person. 

Flowers and cupcakes at Le Dolci on Dundas Street West in Toronto.

:Le Dolci cupcake studio storefront on Dundas Street West in downtown Toronto.

And so concludes the first Cupcake Connection of the spring and summer seasons.  I can’t wait to see what the next several months bring!

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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! 

*****

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.