Strawberry Season is Under Way! A Photo Spotlight on the Strawberries n’ Cream from The Cupcake Shoppe

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It’s the first week of June and I think I have full-blown red fever: strawberry season is here!  Call me crazy but for the past few months I’ve been daydreaming about strawberry desserts, strawberry socials, strawberry picking and strawberry themed everything.  Much like apples, lemons, and blueberries, you just can’t go wrong with planning a menu around them.  Strawberry shortcake, strawberry trifle, strawberry mousse, chocolate dipped strawberries – is there anything the awesome strawberry can’t do?!  Generally speaking, our local strawberry season lasts for two months from June through July so I’m excited to see what kinds of strawberry-related goodies I can post about over the next little while.  To kick things off, I’m featuring a photo spotlight on – what else – a strawberry cupcake!  I’m actually surprised that I’ve done 5 posts on strawberry cupcakes from different shops around the city already.  It’s hard to capture the full breadth of what the city has to offer when it comes to a single flavour because some of them are seasonal and/or limited time offerings and some of them exist on rotating menus so it can take a long time to photograph and eat them all!

The Strawberries n’ Cream cupcake ($2.85) from The Cupcake Shoppe is a vanilla cupcake filled with strawberry jam in the centre, topped with vanilla and strawberry swirled buttercream and a dainty and adorable strawberry candy.  It seriously looks like it was plucked straight out of the Strawberry Shortcake cartoon – it’s cute and pink and fluffy!  And the jam-filled centre is a sweet and fruity bonus.

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The Cupcake Shoppe is located in the Yonge and Eglinton neighbourhood at 2417 Yonge St., north of Eglinton on the east side of Yonge St.  Their second location in Vaughan is located by Bathurst St. and Rutherford Road at 9340 Bathurst.  Hurray for more cupcake options in York Region!

They have a rotating menu of cupcake flavours each day and each cupcake is priced at $2.85.  For more Cupcake Shoppe goodness on Ate by Ate, check out The Cupcake Chronicles feature page HERE!  There are write-ups, scrapbook layouts, and tons of photos on The Cupcake Shoppe’s following flavours: Cookie Dough, Eh? (maple), Lemon Drop & Lov’n Lemon (the first one is one of the most amazing lemon cupcakes you will ever eat), Red Velvet, Naughty n’ Spice (fall seasonal), After Ate (mint chocolate), Pretty in Pink (raspberry cupcake with raspberry buttercream), Triple Chocolate Fudge (chocolate cake with chocolate frosting and chocolate chips), Sleepless in Toronto (coffee), Confetti (vanilla cake studded with confetti with gorgeous blue-purple (or in my words, periwinkle) frosting and sprinkles, the holiday seasonal Candy Cane Lane (chocolate cake with candy cane buttercream and candy cane topping), and the delicious summer seasonal Lime n’ Licious.

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The Ooey Gooey Goodness of Marshmallows & Rocky Road – Cupcakes in Scarborough at So Into Cupcakes!

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Here’s a quickie, multiple choice quiz for all of you (not to worry; it’s fun and it’s not hard!).  Take a wild guess and answer the following question: how did I find out about one of Scarborough’s newest, hottest cupcake bakeries, So Into Cupcakes by Markham Rd. and Ellesmere?  A) through a friend, B) from a bus, C) from a magazine, or D) from a local cupcake fairy.  I’ll tell you right now that I wish it could have been D.  How awesome it would be to have cupcake fairies telling me where all the newest and yummiest cake and frosting creations are!  But alas, no cute fairies.  Nope, I discovered So Into Cupcakes from the window of a bus!

I don’t even know where to start with this one!  Cupcakes!  IN SCARBOROUGH!  OH MY LORDY!  I know I wrote about Sugarbuds Bakery & Cafe on Kingston Rd. last Christmas and was over the moon about having a place in Scarborough to get cupcakes.  But this is different.  So different.  We’re not talking about cupcakes within the parameters of an all-rounder bakery.  We’re talking cupcakes and ONLY cupcakes!  Cupcakes under a glass display case.  Sitting pretty like precious artifacts in a museum.  Housed in a cupcake exclusive shop.  Foodies and cupcake lovers – WE HAVE AN HONEST-TO-GOODNESS CUPCAKERY IN SCARBOROUGH!!!  This makes me so happy!  And I don’t even live in Scarborough anymore!  It’s happening everyone – cupcakes are slowly but surely making their way into suburbia and I, for one, am bouncing off the walls with jubilance over it.

I found out about So Into Cupcakes, located at 2060 Ellesmere Rd. at the corner of Dolly Varden Blvd. just west of Markham Rd., by a sheer stroke of luck.  Long story short, I was riding the bus on Ellesmere one afternoon when I dazedily looked out the window, saw the giant shop signage and cupcake imagery from its regal position in the plaza, and almost ran off the bus while it was still moving.  My mind started sputtering and my heart start thudding, “So…Into…Cupcakes…oh my…what the…cupcakes!  New cupcake shop!  When?!  CUPCAAAAKES!”  You get the picture.  When I reached my destination, I walked off the bus in daze, with this as my only thought: “I need to get home and look this place up!”  And I did.  And found out that So Into Cupcakes, as a shop, had only been around for about half a year.  Before setting up shop in Scarborough in a growing plaza with plenty of foodie treasures, So Into Cupcakes was actually an independent home business.  All I can say is that I’m so happy the business grew enough to occupy a lovely little cupcake boutique shop and I know for a fact I’m not the only one!

Backstory: my boyfriend and one of his coworkers were having a fun discussion about the things they’d want to see in Scarborough – services, retail, anything and everything.  My boyfriend cried, “cupcake shops!” to which his coworker replied, “I don’t think there’s a market in Scarborough for cupcakes”.  My response?  “Wanna bet?”  As crazy as it sounds, apparently I was not the only one who found out about So Into Cupcakes from a bus.  While I was stuffing my face with two cupcakes in the shop (one regular-sized, one mini) and taking photos, customers trickled in and one of them mentioned how they had seen the signage from the bus and decided to drop in.  Public transportation sight-seeing works!

And on top of that, So Into Cupcakes sold 30 cupcakes during the brief time I was there.  I know I take my time taking photos and savouring my food (according to my mother, I chew 21 times before I swallow. Go figure.), but still!  30 cupcakes purchased by multiple customers without even the slightest bit of coaxing during the lull period in the afternoon is mighty impressive!  No market by tooshie!  I could go on and discuss the broader context of the socioeconomic status of residents and its relation to luxury goods, but I’ll save that for another day.

Right now we’re going to delve into the world of cupcake flavours, prices, and online connections.  Let me just say that if any of you are interested in checking them out, ditch the main website and follow them on Facebook and Twitter, if you have either account.  Their website is lovely with beautiful photos, but I’m telling you, if you want to get the full monty, you have to keep up with their Facebook page because you get such a better feel for what they have to offer.  Their cupcakes ($2.50 for regular-sized, $1.50 for minis) come in 12 different regular flavours that rotate on a daily basis: vanilla, chocolate, salted caramel, strawberry, lemon, cookies n’ cream, coconut, s’mores, rocky road, red velvet, mocha, and peanut butter.  What makes their selection extra exciting is their constant introduction of monthly flavours which they announce on their Facebook page and Twitter.  We’re talking Boston Cream, maple, spicy chocolate, chocolate cheesecake, pink lemonade, key lime, root beer, blueberry, mint chocolate, and SO MUCH MORE.

For my first foray into the So Into Cupcakes’ goodies, I picked out a strawberry mini and a rocky road regular.  So cute, so yummy, so creamy, so fun!  Remember how I said the strawberry cupcake from Flour Studio tasted just like strawberry Pocky?  I didn’t think I could find one that tasted more like it, but I did!  The strawberry cupcake is strawberry Pocky in cupcake form, bang on!  It’s so creamy and candy sweet.  The strawberry frosting sits on a vanilla cupcake with little sugar sprinkles on top.

And the rocky road?  Oh my gosh.  One of the cutest, funnest cupcakes EVER!  And FINALLY a cupcake that does marshmallow justice!  Their rocky road cupcake is literally ooey, gooey, soft marshmallow “frosting” on top of a chocolate cupcake with chocolate chunks and nuts bits sprinkled on top.  REAL MARSHMALLOW!  I’ve had cupcakes that were supposed to taste like marshmallow but sadly enough, just tasted like vanilla cream, like the kind of filling you’d find in a Hostess cupcake.  Which is fun!  For a Hostess cupcake.  NOT for a cupcake claiming to be marshmallow!  This cupcake is truly one of the funnest things I’ve ever eaten.  The chocolate chunks and nut bits complement the marshmallow topping so well, and while the chocolate cupcake is what you’d expect of any decent chocolate cupcake, I still think it’s mega special simply because it’s moist and fudgy and most importantly, not dry!

I’m so happy this new cupcake bakery is here in Scarborough and I think all the flavours that they’ve been coming out with are so fun and exciting!  And while the bus isn’t the most glamourous or ideal mode of transportation sometimes, it earns brownie points in my book just for allowing me to make this sweet discovery.

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So Into Cupcakes is located at 2060 Ellesmere Rd. in Scarborough, at the corner of Ellesmere Rd. and Dolly Varden Blvd. (by Ellesmere and Markham Rd.).  You can follow them on Facebook HERE and on Twitter @sointocupcakes HERE.

Introducing the Flavour Favourites Series! 5 Great Strawberry Cupcakes

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All good things come with a little time – I’m so excited to FINALLY start my new Flavour Favourites series!  Inspired by Christine’s, “5 Great…”  feature on her beauty blog empire, Temptalia, (and my favourite beauty blog in general!), this new series is completely devoted to sweets and eats grouped together by one common flavour or ingredient denominator: vanilla, chocolate, raspberry, lemon, blueberry, green tea, pesto, cheddar, asparagus, apple – the list is never-ending and I have so many ideas on how to make this series fun and creative!

This first Flavour Favourites post is dedicated to “5 Great Strawberry Cupcakes” but I’d love to do a spin-off of this in the future and feature a “5 Great Strawberry Breakfasts” post, a “5 Great Strawberry Desserts”, or a “5 Great Savoury Dishes with Strawberries” mash-up.  There are so many reasons why I’m so in love with this idea.  For one thing, after 500+ posts, there’s just no way everyone is going to remember when I wrote certain posts or even know these posts exist if I’ve written about them in the past.  Some of you have just started following Ate by Ate within the last few months and some of you have been by my side since the beginning.  Either way, it’ll do one of two things: refresh your memory or introduce you to something brand new!  And posts like these are much more bookmark friendly – I know, I know, I need to get on the Pinterest wagon.  It’ll happen eventually!

Another reason why I’m in love with doing this series?  It’ll be a great way to see, at a glance, what the city has to offer if you love a specific flavour or ingredient to itty bitty pieces and want to know where you can get the goods.  The series will either encapsulate previously written posts into one “bigger picture” post (like today’s), or feature items and dishes not yet published but will be at a later date.  I especially want to focus on these Flavour Favourites to highlight seasonal foods so we can all take advantage of some great dishes and food at their peak of loveliness.  I am going to be one very happy girl when I have enough to create an asparagus one for spring! 

I’ve wanted to do this for over a year but as you can imagine, this series is fantastic in theory, a ton of fun to prepare, but waaaay more difficult to execute in actuality.  First off, there’s the menu ogling.  Then there’s the actual eating and photographing.  And from there we painstakingly rack up the posts.  And this can only happen if I end up loving the items and dishes!  I know it seems like I love everything I eat and think everything is awesome, but there are a number of spots and food things (for lack of a better word) that I haven’t necessarily enjoyed and thus, haven’t written about on the blog.  Regardless, I am beyond ecstatic to start this and can’t wait to really rev it up.

  1. Strawberry “Pinkalicous” – $2.75 at Bakes & Goods, 2523 Yonge Street (Yonge & Eglinton)
  2. Strawberry Vanilla – $3 at Flour Studio, 883 Eglinton Ave. West (Eglinton & Bathurst)
  3. Lady in Red – $2.95 at Short & Sweet Cupcakes (February Flavour of the Month), 1945 Avenue Rd. (Avenue & Wilson)
  4. Strawberry on Grandma’s Dark Cocoa – $2.95 at Prairie Girl Bakery, 18 King Street East (King & Victoria) and First Canadian Place Marketplace (Concourse level)
  5. Summer Strawberry – $2.65 at The Wedding Cake Shoppe, 859 College Street (College & Ossington)     

The Strawberry “Pinkalicious” Cupcake & The Not-Quite-So-New Cupcakery – Bakes & Goods by Yonge & Eglinton!

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I thought I was so savvy.  I thought I was one of the first people to know.  I thought I was on the cutting edge of something totally new, and I couldn’t wait to share the news with all of you!  Then my bubble kind of burst and I felt kind of silly.  So, what eaxctly has gotten me into this topsy-turvy tizzy?  Cupcakes.  I know, I know.  “Oh, Deb, only you would zero in on a cupcake sign on the sidewalk like a honing pigeon, race into the new shop squealing like a fangirl, and leave your friend behind”.  It’s true.  I couldn’t help myself.  Let me explain. 

Last Saturday, I was out and about with my dear friend Wini around the Yonge & Eglinton neighbourhood.  We walked north on Yonge Street, stopping along the way to browse at cute housewares, and to drool over the cupcakes at The Cupcake Shoppe.  And then it happened.  I saw the pink and brown sandwich board sign with its swirly cupcake image, looked up and over to see a cupcake shop I had never seen before, and lost all control.  And I mean all.  My breath caught in my throat (to save face I could tell you it was because of the heat, but we all know the truth), I let out a high-pitched, “ohmygodisthatanewcupcakeshop?!”, and left my dear Wini behind as I raced in.  Call it seeking refuge from the heat, call it cupcake insanity – my body went on autopilot, my eyes were locked in tunnel-vision, and there was no stopping me.

Bakes & Goods, located at 2523 Yonge Street, north of Eglinton Ave. between Sherwood and Keewatin Ave., is bake shop that sells nut-free cookies, cupcakes, cakes, shortbread cookies, and customized foodie gifts.  They create special order cakes for birthdays, baby showers, weddings, and seasonal occasions, as well as special giant, pull-apart cookie pies, cookie bouquets, and and cookie baskets!  They also have an adorable selection of decorated sugar and shortbread cookies available for purchase ($2.99 each, and on a stick!) on their retail shelves by the front of the store, similar to those at Yummy Stuff

Now, I’m always excited when I see cupcakes but I was extra excited because I thought for certain I was seeing and walking into a brand spankin’ new cupcake shop in town.  I thought to myself, “YES!  An honest-to-goodness discovery!”  Little did I know that Bakes & Goods was actually not a brand new cupcake shop but an already-exisiting bakery that had simply relocated. 

While I was perusing the cupcake selection, I eagerly asked them if they were new and I was told that they had just moved in from their Bathurst location.  I smiled and congratulated them on the move but on the inside, I was dying a little.  How.  Embarrassing.  And here I thought I had made some miraculously discovery!  Previously in the Bathurst and Lawrence West vicinity, Bakes & Goods moved into their new Yonge & Eglinton home (with adorable heart shaped exterior to boot) last Saturday and are fitting in quite swimmingly – the gentleman in front of me bought 2 dozen cupcakes on the spot!

Bakes & Goods has about 7 or 8 cupcake flavours to choose from on a daily basis including red velvet, cookie crumble, cafe mocha, choco ganache, and others.  While their selection isn’t particularly kooky-crazy, their flavours encompass many of the classics that cupcake lovers fall back on time and time again.  If you love the unique, the different, and the out-of-this-world, it might not be for you.  However, if you’re a diehard red velvet devotee, a committed chocoholic, or a lemon lover, the shop is definitely worth a looksee. 

To me, if you genuinely love cupcakes, there is absolutely nothing that will deter you from trying out a new shop or a shop you’ve never tried, even if the flavours are ones you’re extremely familiar with and accustomed to.  Much like sushi, everyone has a different interpretation of the classics and it’s worth it to see (and taste!) the differences and to experiment.  I am definitely going back to try their cookie crumble, lemon, mocha, and maybe their red velvet.  I’m not the biggest fan of red velvet (please don’t throw things at me), but like I said, it’s worth it to give it a whirl because you never know when you’ll be unknowingly surprised by something awesome.

At $2.75 a pop, their cupcakes rank mid-range on the cupcakery price ladder and their cupcake sizes are very decent and reasonable for the prices they charge.  Being the strawberry and pink lover that I am, I chose their very special Pinkalicious cupcake!  Their Pinkalicious cupcake is a vanilla cupcake topped with strawberry buttercream and a pretty little hot pink edible candy star. 

Knowing the topping was a buttercream, I anticipated the flavour to be very subtle but I was incredibly and pleasantly surprised at how fruity and sweet (and I don’t mean cloying or disgustingly sweet) and yummy the buttercream frosting was.  The buttercream didn’t leave that greasy film behind that so many people complain about and it definitely lives up to the strawberry flavour.  The whole cupcake from top to bottom was so light and fluffy and it was an absolute joy to eat.  This is such a great cupcake for spring and summer and definitely fit for all of us cupcake princesses out there.

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Bakes & Goods is located at 2523 Yonge Street in the Yonge & Eglinton neighbourhood.  The bake shop is situated on the east side of Yonge Street between Sherwood and Keewatin Ave., several blocks north of Eglinton Ave.  They have recently moved into this new home from their original Bathurst and Ranee location (around the Lawrence West area) and are open 6 days a week (Monday-Saturday) at 11am.