Hallowe’en Headquarters – A Spooky & Sweet Cupcake Lover’s Paradise! Lollicakes on Mount Pleasant Road

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Happy Hallowe’en everyone!  I hope everyone’s had a freakishly fun weekend and Hallowe’en day so far!  My Hallowe’en was spent snapping a gazillion photos for the blog today and looking at some of the cutest Hallowe’en treats and paraphernalia!  I may hop around the city on a regular basis, but I don’t think I’ve jumped on and off the subway and streetcar as much as I did today.  I was all over town hitting up some of my favourite places to capture the once-a-year occasion in all its orange-and-black glory.  I promised you all treats for tonight, so I’m here to deliver a nice helping of Hallowe’en posts, just in case you didn’t already fill up on sweet treats!  Kind of like the giddy emptying of a trick-or-treat bag 😀  Let’s get started!

Up first: Hallowe’en at Lollicakes!  Lollicakes is a cupcake bakery and merchandise retail shop located in uptown Toronto on Mount Pleasant Rd. just north of Davisville Ave.  If you’re the type of person who squeals over cupcakeries and the design and retail concept of “the cupcakery”, you will go bananas over Lollicakes because this shop is EVERYTHING CUPCAKE and more!  Do you like to collect cupcake related things?  Is your house or apartment adorned with cute cupcake kitchen tools, accessories, candles, photos, and recipe books?  Does the thought of outfitting your kitchen or room in true cupcake fashion make your heart flutter?  If you said yes to even one of those, you need to come here.  It is a cupcake haven.  Or heaven.  Or both.

Not only does Lollicakes sell fresh baked cupcakes on a daily basis, but they also sell all of the following: cupcake recipe books, wrappers, toppers, stands, trinket boxes, backpacks, makeup bags, picture frames, aprons, oven mitts, wallets, luggage tags, notepads, clipboards, paper stationery, cards, and cupcake and cookie baking tools and equipment.  You can pick your jaw up from off the floor now – it’s a cupcake dream come true.

Hallowe’en is awesome here at Lollicakes.  They have so many cute Hallowe’en related baking accessories and of course, Hallowe’en themed cupcakes and trinkets.  They have pumpkin trinket boxes, Hallowe’en cookie cutters, treat bags, and lots of sweet eats.  By the cash and counter today they had buckets and baskets of frosted cookies decorated like ghosts and jack-o-lanterns, chocolate covered R.I.P. treats on a stick, and plenty of frosted regular and mini cupcakes with Hallowe’en chocolate toppers and sprinkles!  Regular cupcakes are priced at $3 and mini ones come in at $2.  Granted, prices are higher if they come with the giant chocolate toppers, but if we’re talking about base price, those are the prices we’re working with.  This puts Lollicakes in the mid-to-higher range among other cupcakeries in the city.  The low-end (price-wise, not quality!) is around $2.50 and the high-end is about $3.25-$3.50.

Lollicakes is also the type of cupcakery that focus more on the asthetics than on flavour menus.  Every cupcake lover has their preferences.  Some love having 20 different flavours of cake and frosting to choose from while others find that type of system way too fussy and prefer having simple vanilla and chocolate cupcakes that are prettily decorated.  For the record though, Lollicakes does vanilla and chocolate cake and frosting, period.  Their vanilla buttercream frosting comes in a rainbow of colours and their cupcakes are often decorated with different kinds of sprinkles and sometimes fancy chocolate toppers.  For Hallowe’en, they had vanilla and chocolate cupcakes with orange, purple, and bright monster lime green frosting with colour coordinate sprinkles, as well as a cute silver tray of cupcakes with the Hallowe’en chocolate toppers already on them.  Eyeballs, skulls, skeleton hands, spiders and cobwebs, witches’ fingers, the whole shebang!  

My parents (and probably some friends) would be over the moon about Lollicakes because their cupcake confections are not too sweet.  If you’re the type of person who enjoys the idea of cupcakes but shudders at the thought of sickly sweet frosting and/or cake, you would most definitely breathe a sigh of relief when eating these because the sweetness level is a little lower.  With Lollicakes’ cupcakes, think fluffy.  Don’t think dense.  The frosting is thick but with a fluffy texture to it.  The vanilla flavour is subtly sweet and you don’t get any of the “butter” taste which is a good thing in my opinion.  The cake is incredibly soft.  If you prefer a denser cake, these probably aren’t for you but if you “mmm” at the thought of pillow-soft, airy fluffiness, these fit the bill.  I think a lot of cupcake devotees will either love them or hate them.  If you enjoy sugary sweetness with thickness and density and heavy vanilla flavour, you won’t enjoy these.  However, if you’re like my parents and can’t stand that type of texture and strength in sweetness, these are more your speed.

One of the things I really adore about Lollicakes shop is how it isn’t age-specific.  Even though they have cute, kid-friendly items, it’s the type of shop that doesn’t alienate its older cilentele.  There’s something for every type of cupcake lover here: the collector, the interior decorator, the beginner, everyone.  You can find cupcake items in other stores, but to have an entire shop dedicated to cupcake things alone in this capacity with this type of selection is rare.  They have items here I’ve never seen at other places and I think it functions as a fabulous gift shop for birthdays and holidays.  Part of me whimpers every time I leave the shop though because everything is so darn cute and in my opinion, perfect for my own house.  One of these days I’m going to end up living in a house just like Hansel and Gretel and then I’ll really be in trouble.

 

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Lollicakes is located at 559 Mount Pleasant Rd. just north of Davisville Ave.

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Even Better Than a Donut – The Rainbow Bright Sprinkler Cupcake from Short & Sweet Cupcakes!

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“Donuts, is there anything they can’t do?” asks Homer at the end of Marge vs. the Monorail.  I love this Simpsons episode to pieces (who doesn’t?!) and although I enjoy donuts and have quite a few favourites and weaknesses, I have to counter that question and respond with a “yes”.  Because a donut can’t be a cupcake and it certainly can’t be the Sprinkler from Short & Sweet Cupcakes!  You all know that Short & Sweet is my holy grail for cupcakes in Toronto and you all know I have made many a visit since my first one in the spring.  However, there are still cupcakes that I haven’t actually seen in person and this is because their cupcake selection operates on a routine rotating basis.  Wait, routine and rotating in the same sentence?  How does that make sense?  Let me explain.

Short & Sweet has a slightly different selection of cupcakes every day during the week and they go ALL OUT on the weekends, nearly doubling their selection compared to, say, Tuesday.  What you see on Tuesday is what you will see EVERY Tuesday.  And what you see on Thursday, for example, is what you can expect to see the next Thursday.  Followng me so far?  There are certain cupcakes that are available every day and certain ones that only make their appearance once a week or during the weekend. 

Depending on which day(s) you frequent the shop then, there could be cupcakes that you’d miss completely and this has certainly been the case for me.  I’m accumstomed to visiting the shop during the week, most of time in the middle of the week on Tuesday or Wednesday (they’re closed on Mondays).  This is why, on this particular Thursday back in July, I finally saw the Sprinkler up close and in person and there was no way I was going to leave the shop without this pretty little thing.  A cupcake that looks exactly like a rainbow sprinkled, technicolour donut?!  YES PLEASE.

Everyone feels differently about sprinkles though.  My dad, for instance, hates sprinkles with a passion because he has bad teeth.  He’s had issues with his teeth for years now and because of their current condition, things like sprinkles get stuck between them and I think they’re even susceptible to cracking given how crunchy sprinkles are!  Some find them messy and others are kind of indifferent about them.  I, on the other hand, LOVE sprinkles and I always have.  Tubular ones, tiny round balls, crystal sprinkles, cute shapes, I adore them all and I think that they add so much character and fun to desserts.  I get rainbow sprinkles and chocolate sprinkles on my ice cream and soft serve, I adore sprinkles in my shortbread cookies, and I get giddy at the thought of dunking a frosted cupcake into a bowl of sprinkles and having the sprinkles stick all nice and pretty to it.

If you love sprinkles and you’re a fan of sprinkled donuts, this was made for you.  This is like a sprinkled donut only, in my opinion, 10x better!  The vanilla cupcake is soft, moist, and sweet and the frosting with the sprinkles is just out of this world.  You know how sprinkled donuts have that layer of sweet frosted glaze that helps the sprinkles stay on?  Imagine that sweetness but in the form of a thick, super creamy, lickably good frosting.  The kind of frosting that makes you want to dip your finger in it and go to town.  The Sprinkler is like a donut, birthday cake, and whipped frosting straight from the mixing bowl all wrapped in one.  I made an absolute mess of myself with the frosting drooping down my cupcake and some of the sprinkles bouncing away after the first bite, but it was so worth it.  It’s fun, colourful, and so perfect for the kid in all of us.

I know I haven’t posted pictures of the new shop since Short & Sweet moved and I’m sorry for that!  I have new photos, but I just need to formulate a cohesive post dedicated specifically to the new location.  The photos I have of the Sprinkler (and its coordinating scrapbook layout which, by the way, was a blast to make) are the last batch from the days of their old shop, so I am ready and raring to go with new location material!  I’m really excited because this Saturday on the 10th, Short & Sweet will be holding their grand re-opening party to celebrate their successful move to their new location 3 blocks north.  From 1pm-4pm, they’ll be holding a cupcake party with drinks, giveaways, and of course, plenty of their amazing cupcakes!  You can bet I’ll be there 😉

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Short & Sweet Cupcakes is now located at 1945 Avenue Rd., south of Wilson Ave.  If you take 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.  You can also get here by getting off at York Mills subway station and taking the 165 Weston Rd. North bus to Wilson Ave. and Avenue Rd. and walking south, or getting off Yorks Mills subway station and walking west to Avenue Rd. from Yonge.

Scrapbooking materials used: to be added.

The Perfect Milk-and-Cookie Cookie! Rich, Chewy, Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies With Sprinkles!

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The Cookie Monster (aka. ME!) just can’t get enough of cookies and cookie baking.  All I want to do is bake cookies all the live long day.  I feel all sorts of happy envisioning myself in a cheery kitchen whipping up cookie dough with music on in the background and the fresh aroma of cookies coming from the oven.  I rifle through my Joanne Fluke foodie murder mysteries checking off all the ones I want to eventually try (this one comes from Plum Pudding Murder!), I just bought a brand new, super thick cookie cookbook the other day, and I’m “crazy” enough to bake through an oncoming thunderstorm.  I put “crazy” in quotations because only my mother thought I was off my rocker mixing up dough with thunder clapping in the distance.  I, for one, did not.  She took a gasket, told me I was out of my mind, and asked me what I was going to do when the power went out.  I scoffed and continued washing dishes and mixing all by my lonesome because my intuitive sense told me the rain was going to be nothing.  And I am proud to say that the power wasn’t even close to going out (the rain lasted all of 2 minutes) and I ended up with two batches of fresh chocolate oatmeal cookies.

These chocolate oatmeal cookies turned out great!  I was so happy with how these turned out.  I couldn’t believe how great the crackling on the cookies turned out (I had no idea there was supposed to be crackling in the first place so it was a pleasant surprise) and the oatmeal was so apparent on and inside the cookies.  Anyone looking at these cookies would have no doubt in their mind that they’re chocolate oatmeal ones.  The exterior has a lovely crunch to it and the insides are moist, chewy, and chocolatey rich! 

If you’re looking for a great milk-and-cookie type of cookie, this cookie is your ticket.  Milk complements the richness of the chocolate really well and sprinkles taste great with these too!  The recipe is basic enough that you can integrate your own add-on decorations in the cookie dough as you’re rolling them into balls.  I didn’t think of this until after I baked them though, so I simply stuck my thumb in the middle of the cookies to create a little crater for the sprinkles soon after the came out of the oven.

Recipe for Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies (yields 3 dozen chewy, chocolatey cookies)

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup softened butter (1 stick, 4 oz., 1/4 pound)
  • 1 cup white granulated sugar
  • 2 one-oz. squares unsweetened chocolate (*Deb’s note: I didn’t have any squares of chocolate so I used unsweetened chocolate chips instead.  I used around 1/3 cup of chocolate chips)
  • 1 beaten egg (just whip it up with a fork)
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt
  • 3/4 cup of flour (pack it down in the cup when you measure it)
  • 1 and 1/2 cups dry oatmeal (quick cooking oats or old-fashioned will do)

Directions:

  • Preheat the oven to 325°F, rack in the middle position.
  • In a large bowl, mix the softened butter and the sugar until it’s fluffy.
  • Unwrap the squares of unsweetened chocolate and melt them in the microwave (*Deb’s note: I used unsweetened chocolate chips, but I still melted them the same way.  I blast them for 20 seconds at a time, stirring between each blast until it’s smooth and all the chocolate is completely melted).  Add the melted chocolate to the butter and sugar mixture and mix well.
  • Feel the bowl.  If the bowl is cool enough, add the beaten egg, mixing until thoroughly incorporated.
  • Mix in the baking powder and the salt.  Then add the flour, mixing it in thoroughly.  Add the oatmeal and stir until the mixture is completely blended (*Deb’s note: it’s important not to use the electric mixer when you incorporate the oatmeal because the mixture gets thick and stiff and will gummy up the mixing blades/beaters!).
  • Drop my teaspoonfuls onto greased cookies, 12 to a standard-sized cookie sheet (*Deb’s note: I used parchment paper and instead of using the drop method, I rolled the dough into balls with my hands.  It can get a bit messy with the chocolate, but it’s fun nevertheless.  I also fit 15 on each of my cookie sheets).
  • Bake at 325°F for 13 to 15 minutes or until slightly brown (*Deb’s note: my oven runs hot so I only baked mine for 11 minutes, and I left them in the oven for another minute after switching the oven off).  Let the cookies cool on the cookie sheet for 2 minutes and then remove them to a wire rack to cool completely.

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Recipe taken from Joanne Fluke’s Plum Pudding Murder.  New York: Kensington Publishing Corporation, 2009.  Photographs taken by me.  The recipe can be found on page 213.

A Little Bit of Holiday Sweetness in Kensington Market – Christmas Cookies at My Market Bakery

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Cookies, cookies, and more cookies in Kensington Market at My Market Bakery

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My Market Bakery is located at 184 Baldwin St. in Kensington Market.  The bakery is located west of Spadina Ave. and south of Nassau St.