The Brightest, Happiest of Decorated Sugar Cookies & Sweets – A Photo Spotlight of Summertime at Le Dolci!

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I have never seen Le Dolci’s studio look this bright and vibrant and happy!  Tropical colours and hanging paper flowers, adorable pink-and-white gingham, new pink-and-white dessert themed window decals, and LOTS of new sweets waiting to be devoured in their retail section!  I got the chance to make a return visit to Icing Sugar Towers (well, since Le Dolci is no longer at their old Portland St. condo, maybe we’ll just call it Icing Sugar Headquarters instead) on Tuesday and I had myself a field day getting new photos of the studio and catching up with Lisa and the gang.

They have a lot going on right now:

  • a gorgeous array of decorated sugar cookies for all sorts of occasions and themes including birthdays, Father’s Day, end-of-the-school-year-teacher thank yous, Pride Toronto, summer fun and fashionista couture
  • new sweets gracing their dessert counter such as tropical macaron flavours for their summer menu, gluten-free muffins and cookies, salted caramel chocolate tarts, brownies, and melty butter tarts
  • a culinary summer camp for kids that runs from July 15 to July 26!  Kids will have the chance to try their hands at cookie baking, styrofoam cake decorating, cake, cupcake and pie baking and decorating, and pizza-making and T-shirt decorating.  Click HERE for more information on class descriptions and pricing.
  • TWO amazing foodie trips in 2013 to San Francisco and Napa Valley, California and Paris, France!
  • having their desserts and sweets showcased at other venues.  Le Dolci has created adorable princess and knight-in-shining armour decorated sugar cookies for Casa Loma and pie-in-a-jar desserts for The Happy Hooker down the street!
  • and last, but certainly not least, a special Canaday Day cupcake decorating class on Saturday, June 29 from 10am-12pm and a Royal Baby cupcake decorating class on Saturday, July 13 from 10am-12pm to honour the lovely Kate Middleton and Prince William and their first born!

Check out their class schedule HERE for all the goods on their macaron, cupcake decorating, cake pop, croissant, pastry, cake, and pie-making classes and their Foodie Trips page HERE for the scoop on culinary jet-setting!

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Le Dolci’s studio and retail shop 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 is open for business 6 days a week.  Operating hours are from 10am-6pm from Tuesday to Saturday and 12pm-5pm on Sundays.

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Adorable Tea Cups, Dishes, & Saucers and Enough Tea Sandwiches & Sweets to Last a Week! Afternoon Tea at Le Dolci!

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I always knew I enjoyed tea (I thank all those weekend dim sum brunch meals growing up for that!), but I never thought I’d love it and engage with it as much as I do now.  I drink tea every morning when I come into work (it’s such a delight rotating between my current 5 loose leaf packets from Steeped & Infused), I keep up with seasonal flavours, I read tea books, I love marrying cupcakes with a cup of hot tea, and I am absolutely amoured by tea time and afternoon teas!  The atmosphere, the food, the beautiful accessories, porcelain and china; the dining experience it affords is in a league of it own.  My dream would be to attend every imaginable afternoon tea in the land – I would be so happy!  I think my obsession with tea is definitely nearing its peak and I really don’t see it waning any time soon.

So I indulged my warm and fuzzy feelings for afternoon tea with a special Sunday afternoon tea at Le Dolci’s sweet studio!  Soft music floating in the background, adorable tea cups, saucers, and dishes, and over 5 different types of decadent desserts among other delectable eats – afternoon tea at Le Dolci is as sweet as it gets!  I was so, so excited when I found out Lisa and the team would be doing afternoon tea sessions at their new studio on Dundas West back in August.  I knew the experience would be really fun, different, and yummy, but I also knew that this was something really personal and special to Lisa.  After living and working in the UK for a decade, the tea bug is bound to bite you one way or another if you haven’t been bitten already!  Lisa, Miya, and I used to drink tea together all the time when I was interning at the studio and we’d always Ooo and ahh over sweet accessories we would find.  Aside from cupcakes and sweets, tea was a common love and it just made everything that much more mellow and relaxed when we took that time to savour it and enjoy it.

I was so excited to see what Lisa would have in store for this tea session.  Afternoon teas, held on Sundays (keep in mind that afternoon teas aren’t held every Sunday at this point though, they just happen to fall on Sundays when they are made available on the class schedule as opposed to Fridays or Saturdays for instance) from 12pm – 2pm, are non-instructional sessions that are open to anyone and everyone with a love for sweets and tea!  Non-instructional simply means that the afternoon tea is purely a “come in and stuff your face while having a lot of fun!” type of session.  There’s no workshop or seminar, no demo or crafting of anything ; it’s just pure enjoyment of food and drink.

Teas are priced at $35/person and spaces must be booked in advance, either by phone or through their website via the class schedule.  Now, I had a brain fart when I first booked my spot because I mixed myself up and thought the entire tea took 2 hours, but the 12pm-2pm tea time is completely flexible!  So long as you’ve booked your spot you’re welcome to start your tea at 12:30pm, 1pm, whatever floats your boat (within reason – obviously if you show up at a quarter to two, that’s not going to fly!) and subsequently, you can finish up any time within those 2 hours.  You simply need to book your spot in advance so Lisa and her team can plan out their tea menu and know exactly how much food to make so nothing goes to waste and so they can make sure everything is ready to go the morning of for the freshest baked goods and eats.

Beautiful sunlight streamed through the studio’s front display window and the big, long, stainless steel worktable was decked out in a white tablecloth with tea cups and saucers, milk and sugar, and small dishes to enjoy our nibbles!  The dishes and accessories were so darn gorgeous.  Enjoying the food on such pretty tableware was half the fun!  Some of these dishes were special antiques and works of art from the UK (that dish featured in the first photo?  Hand-painted!), while others were just nifty pick-ups around town.  The crazy tea accessory lover in me was lapping all this up like an eager puppy!

Okay, so what does afternoon tea at Le Dolci entail?  Hot loose leaf tea from Tealish (4 flavours on hand including Sweetie Pie, Earl Grey Classic, Sencha Organic green tea, and Peppermint!), 4 different kinds of tea sandwiches on multi-grain bread with the crusts cut off (but of course!), and literally enough sweets and baked goods to last you an entire week – no joke!  The awesome thing about the tea specifically is that you can try different kinds!  Lisa will brew a pot of whatever flavour you want at first, but if you decide that you want to try a different one middway through, she can brew another one.  Granted, I wouldn’t start asking for all 4 flavours, but it’s fine if you want to sip on another one later on in the tea.

Another thing I really loved was the sheer volume of food!  All afternoon teas are based on a per person count, but holy bejeebus, after my boyfriend and I polished off our sandwich plate with 8 portions, Lisa came by and plopped another plate of 4 in front of us!  That’s 6 sandwiches in total, 3 per person (each portion is half a sandwich).  I don’t know about you, but I have never eaten 3 sandwiches plus sweets plus a bajillion cups of tea.  I knew there would be leftovers (gut intuition) so I came prepared and brought tupperware.  It came in handy!  That day, we were given an assortment of roast beef with mustard, smoked salmon, ham, and a fantastic egg salad with crunchy green onions!  You all know I love smoked salmon to pieces, but I have to say, I loved the ham and egg salad ones a lot too!  So simple yet so good.

And the sweets.  Oh, the sweets.  Full-size frosted cupcakes (vanilla with coffee frosting and chocolate with vanilla frosting), mini cupcakes (vanilla and coffee), biscotti, little scones (cheddar and dried fruit ones), brownie squares, lemon coconut squares, macarons (coconut and strawberry), and lamingtons, an Australian and New Zealand dessert made of sponge cake and coated in chocolate and rolled in shredded coconut!  Did you get all that?!  It was such a great varied assortment and there were so many different things to try!  I loved the variety and if I had to choose, my favourites would have to be the lemon coconut squares, the cupcakes with coffee frosting, and the macarons!

It was a really fun, sweet afternoon tea and I’m so happy Lisa decided to have it as part of her fun foodie line-up.  I genuinely enjoyed all the food we were given and it’s just nice being in the studio surrounded by yummy smells and great people.  I am no doubt coming back for more – the leftovers are just the icing on the cake!

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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.

A Year in Review – New Classes & Studio, New Sweets, & Memories of Being an Icing Sugar Queen at Le Dolci!

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I don’t think any of us ever need a reason or a celebration to have cupcakes or cake; they are morsels of happiness in and of themselves!  But there is a special sort of anniversary I’m commemorating with these two sweet and decadent posts!  It all began with a cupcake studio, baking pans upon pans of vanilla and chocolate cupcakes, tinting mounds of yummy vanilla frosting in sweet pastels, and working with fondant for the very first time.  The trek to the old studio on King West and Portland, the smell of warm sugar, and the sounds of the oven timer chiming and the Kitchenaid mixer whirring at full speed.  I remember it like it was yesterday: my very first day as an icing sugar queen at Le Dolci! 

It has already been a year since that fateful first day of cupcake baking and frosting making with Lisa and Miya and so much has changed within that time including the introduction of new classes to the lineup and a brand spankin’ new studio across the street from Trinity Bellwoods Park!  I have so many fond memories and I took away so much from my time at the studio with Lisa and the other girls.  I learned how to make cake pops, I learned how to work with fondant, I watched Lisa grow her business from the ground up, and I celebrated Le Dolci’s first Christmas and Valentine’s Day among many other special milestones.  Can you believe that it’s already been a year?  It’s crazy!  Even though it’s been months since my days as Le Dolci icing sugar queen, it holds a special part of my sweet tooth and heart and I love being in the loop and staying up-to-date on all the yummy news.

Along with the retail cupcake space selling accessories and freshly baked cupcakes with a selection of new flavours (lemon, salted caramel, and coffee in addition to the classic Sicilian vanilla and chocoalte cocoa), Lisa and the Le Dolci team have launched a whole rotating menu of sweets available every day including Augie’s gourmet ice pops, and in-house crafted butter tarts, biscotti, eclairs, macarons, cannoli, and more!  And if that’s not enough squee, Lisa has also added a slew of new foodie classes and events to Le Dolci’s offerings!   

Le Dolci has joined forces with Rosewood Estates for wine and cupcakes, and wine, honey, and cheese tastingsLisa Kates (aka. A Food Gypsy) for drop-in soup evenings for soup, fresh bread, and sweets; traditional afternoon tea with sweets, savoury nibbles, and plenty of tea and adorable accessories; Chef Ramza for Lebanese cooking (tabbouleh, fattoush, makloubit chicken and rice and more!); Heather from Knead Bakery for bread and croissant making classes; and pie-making with the Parkdale Pie Princess!  Oh, and did I mention that Le Dolci is hosting their 2nd foodie trip in 2013, this time in San Francisco and Napa Valley, California?!  Sigh.  If only I could attend everything.

Here is Le Dolci’s October line-up of classes and yummies to look forward to!

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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.

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.