The Final Sweet Morsels of Frosting and Cake Crumbs – Vegan Cupcakes at the Vegetarian Food Fair! Part III

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Have you ever dreamed of walking through a magical cupcake land with tubs of frosting floating around and cupcakes dancing around like heavenly visions of sugar plums?  No?  Okay, well I guess it’s just me then.  If you can believe it, those make-believe cupcake land dreams of mine came true on Saturday at the Vegetarian Food Fair at Harbourfront – sans the fairy wings and all though!  Welcome to the 3rd part of the Vegetarian Food Fair series of 2011, vegan cupcake-style!  Toronto may not be the vegetarian and vegan capital of the world, but I’m really fortunate to live around a city with options and with so many talented, enthusiastic business-owners and entrepreneurs who are constantly keeping things fresh, exciting, and innovative with their vegan creations.

I remember the first time I ate a vegan cupcake: October 2010 at the cafe that used to be in the Blue Banana gift shop in Kensington Market.  What can I say?  My memory is good when it comes to things with frosting!  The cupcakes from Blue Banana were actually ones from Dundas St. West’s very own OMG Baked Goodness and I remember how chocolatey and fudgy they were and how much I loved them.  The frosting was one of the most amazing things that had ever danced on my tastebuds and from that day on, I knew vegan sweets were in a league of their own.   

After going through all my photos from the fair Saturday night, I knew right off the bat that two posts were not going to be enough to showcase all the yumminess, and I knew that there was no chance of me squishing all my cupcake photos into my vegan desserts and sweets Part II post.  So here we are with an entire post dedicated to the vegan cupcakes at the food fest.  I cannot believe how many delicious, beautiful vegan cupcakes were here; I was going bat-apeing crazy!  The first thought that popped into my head as soon as I walked through the first aisle of booths was, “Are you kidding me?!  I can’t eat all this, my tummy’s not big enough!  This is so unfair!”  Cue foot stomping.  And the realization that I was only going to be able to eat one, at best.  Hence the ridiculous amount of photos; I needed some way of ingesting the awesomeness that lay before me.

We’re talking about rows and rows of s’mores cupcakes, mint chocolate, lavender chocolate (Sweets From the Earth), butterscotch pecan (Bloomers Bakery), pumpkin spice, red velvet, cookies and cream, chocolate coffee buttercream with mini donut (I KNOW.  Oh my god to the max), French toast (double oh my god) from Bunner’s Bake Shop, and many others, all from local businesses and bakeries.  I was wading through a cupcake dreamworld, a beautiful world I really didn’t want to leave!  Even though I knew there were great vegan bakeries in the city, I was introduced to businesses I didn’t even know existed.  I had no idea so many of them did cupcakes in that capacity, and it makes me so excited to know there are new flavours waiting for me to try out and new businesses for me to get to know.  The Vegetarian Food Fair was just phenomenal and I’m super happy I have these photos and great memories to look back on.  Because I’m going to need these to tide me over until next year 😉

*****

The Toronto Vegetarian Association (TVA) is located at 17 Baldwin St., 2nd floor (near the corner of Baldwin St. and McCaul St., south of Cecil St.).  To learn more about TVA’s mandate, events, news, and more, click here.  The Harbourfront Centre is located at 235 Queens Quay West.  For more info on their festivals, events, workshops, gallery shows, and more, click here.

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OMG, They’re So Fudgy! Chocolate Vegan Cupcakes at OMG Baked Goodness

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I miss the café at Blue Banana in Kensington Market.  A lot.  When I found out that they packed up their adorable café with some of my favourite chocolate vegan cupcakes, I was crushed.  They had big, soft, moist, and densely chocolatey vegan cupcakes that had thick, amazing frosting in fun colours and edible pearls and sugar crystals.  Not only that, they had carrot cake cupcakes, brownies, giant cookies, and other goodies like Turkish Delight and chocolate covered pretzels.  It was cute and fun and I looked up at the food gods and silently thought, “you are so mean.” 

Thankfully, all of us who adored those cupcakes don’t need to fret because they’re not entirely gone.  Gone from Blue Banana, yes, but not gone from the city.  For those who weren’t aware, Blue Banana’s yummy vegan cupcakes were supplied by the cute and flashy OMG Baked Goodness Ltd. on Dundas Street West and they’re very much alive and kickin’ (and currently supplying to a number of cafés and retailers all over the Toronto) near the intersection of Dundas West and Dufferin St.  I have been meaning to go to OMG for ages, ever since I learned that Blue Banana’s cupcakes came from here.  A cupcake munchie like myself has to visit the mothership, right? 😀  I was so excited to continue my own little personal cupcake tour by coming here because really, the visit was long overdue!

OMG Baked Goodness is beautiful.  If you love pink and colourful brights, it’s it a feast for your eyes.  If you love fluffy cupcakes with frostings in every colour of the rainbow, it will make your cupcake-loving heart swoon.  And if you’re gaga over photo ops, well…be prepared for a few finger spasms!  They have a giant cupcake graffiti painting on their wall!  It makes my heart happy.  OMG isn’t just your resident vegan cupcakery though.  Aside from cupcakes, they bake babycakes (which resemble very large muffins with big tops), brownies (cream cheese ones and walnut ones to name a few), cookies, and savoury eats such as mini quiche pies, spinach and feta turnovers, roasted vegetable turnovers, and stuffed focaccia among many others.  Prices range from $3.25-$4.00 for savoury food items, around $2.15 for babycakes, and $2.75 for brownies. 

 

OMG is totally on the ball with having their baked goods ready to go when they open for business, and even before they actually open!  After getting off the Dundas West streetcar and walking over from College St. (construction in the city = route detours, not to fret), I saw the lights were on and the girls baking inside and got confused because I could have sworn I had arrived there earlier than 10am.  And I did, but there it was with its “Open” sign beckoning me to come in and the nice girls ready to serve me.  Sweet!

Now, I may not be able to describe or comment on any of their baked goods aside from the vegan cupcakes, but give me a month and I’m sure that can be changed 😀  What I love about their chocolate vegan cupcakes is how moist and FUDGY they are.  Oh my goodness, THIS is what chocolate is supposed to taste like.  The chocolate cupcakes taste like fudgy brownies only in cupcake form.  I snatched up two regular-sized cupcakes ($2.75 each, which places them right in the middle price-wise compared to other cupcakeries in Toronto) and two minis with a smattering of rainbow sprinkles!  The minis come in at $1.50 each and the frostings are so cute and colourful.  There was no way in hell that I was going to give up mini cupcakes with rainbow SPRINKLES all over them.  I love sprinkles the way peanut butter loves jelly. 

The minis were awesome.  You know what they tasted like?  A cross between a moist chocolate cupcake and a sprinkled donut with frosted glaze!  Obviously the frosting wasn’t just a glaze, but you get what I mean.  I shoved them in my mouth and loved them dearly.  I do wish though that the frosting on the regular-sized cupcakes was a bit thicker just because it wasn’t as thick as the frosting I remember eating from the ones at Blue Banana.

These are solid, good chocolate vegan cupcakes though and the prices are very reasonable in comparison to other cupcakeries.  At the lower end price-wise, there are a handful of places that sell them for $2.50 (Sweet Escape Patisserie, For the Love of Cake) and $2.65 (The Cupcake Shoppe).  At mid-range we have Short & Sweet Cupcakes coming in at $2.90, Prairie Girl Bakery at $2.95, and of course, OMG Baked Goodness at $2.75.  Rounding out the higher end are Bunner’s Bake Shop ($3.25) and Lollicakes ($3.00).  Granted, there are MANY cupcakeries in Toronto that I haven’t listed here, but you get the idea.  I’m not vegan and I really enjoy their chocolate cupcakes.  When I try out some of their other goodies (I saw a babycake that looked like it has marshmallow in it OMG), I’ll be sure to share some more!  I hope you all like the photos and the scrap layout and if you’re wondering about those cupcakeries that I listed but didn’t link…well, let’s just say some more cupcake blog posts are in order in the near future 😉

*****

OMG Baked Goodness is located at 1561 Dundas Street West, west of Dufferin St. at the corner of Sheridan and Dundas West.  They are open from 10am-7pm Monday-Saturday and from 12pm-5pm on Sunday.  You can view their products on their website here.

Scrapbooking materials used: eggplant purple, lilac, dark pink, buttercup yellow, and mint green cardstock (Recollections, Choco-Mod Patterns by DCWV); pink, green, and brown patterned alphabet stickers (Choco-Mod Patterns by DCWV); “Lollipop” alphabet stickers (Autumn Leaves, Creativity Inc.); baking stickers (Sticko, Jolee’s Boutique); cake and cupcake adhesive embellishments (Michaels); medium scallop circle paper punch (ek success).     

Everything Tastes Amazing Off the Grill: Grilled Vegetables & Pesto, and an Irish Cream Vegan Cupcake at Fresh!

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It’s true, I have a hankering for Fresh.  All I can think about are soba noodle bowls and fruit drinks and quinoa battered onion rings with vegan mayo.  Sigh.  So to tide myself over until my next yummy in the tummy Fresh fest, I scrapbooked my last Fresh outing.  I know, I know, scrapbooking photos of their delicious food can only exacerbate my craving that much more.  But it’s not such a bad thing because it lets me chew on (mentally) what I want to try next and reminisce about past meals.  Not to mention I get to show you all photos of yet another great meal here as well as some dessert! 

So far I’ve only blogged about their mains and their fruit juices, so this will be the first blog post showcasing a few dessert items.  And yes, you guessed it, the dessert items are cupcakes!  Even though this wasn’t my first time having a dessert here, I wanted to blog about two different cupcakes to show somewhat of a comparison between them as one was much better than the other.  Even though I didn’t enjoy the first cupcake I had here as much as I did the second time around, it was important to me to blog about something good alongside something not-so-good because I think it’s important not to swear things off after having only tried one thing.  But I’m getting ahead of myself! 

I enjoyed my last meal at Fresh with my lovely friend Wini, my vegetarian foodie partner in crime!  We went into Fresh with one goal in mind: get that Irish Cream vegan cupcake!  The Irish Cream vegan cupcake at Fresh was a limited time flavour (a flavour they may bring back again in the future) and we didn’t want to miss our chance at noshing on it.  Great minds and tummies think alike because we both ordered the same thing: an Irish Cream vegan cupcake and the grilled vegetable and pesto burrito, menu items neither one of us had tried before.  We enjoyed our yummy food and weren’t disappointed!

Fresh is just one of those places that manages to pair so many of my favourite foods into great combinations in their meals.  I adore grilled vegetables, especially things like peppers, asparagus, zucchini, green beans, and corn.  And pesto?  Hello, it’s pesto!  I could eat this stuff by the spoonful because it’s so delicious.  I love it on pasta, with bread, pitas, crackers, you name it.  The same way I enjoyed my black bean burrito on a bed of greens as opposed to in a tortilla, I enjoyed my grilled vegetables and pesto the same way.  For whatever reason, I just love having the burritos on greens.  I think everything tastes amazing when you can take a huge forkful or chopstickful of burrito filling and stuff it in your mouth with a generous helping of spring mix.  There’s this great balance of textures with the soft fillings (the black burrito filling and this time with the grilled veggies and pesto) and crunchy greens that makes me tastebuds go “ahhhh”. 

The grilled vegetable and pesto burrito is comprised of mountain of grilled red peppers, zucchini, and sweet potato, lots of pesto, some vegan mayo, a layer of alfalfa sprouts, and diced tomatoes, cucumbers, and red onion.  Being the cheese lover that I am, I added a side of goat cheese to it and I love it because the warmth of the dish makes the cheese a bit melty and even softer than it already is.  Creamy, rich, grilled, crunchy.  Awesome.  The grilled vegetables were so soft yet full of body and substance, as opposed to mushy, cooked down and gross.  The pesto had a great grainy texture to it and everything on the plate just worked.  Burrito mains are $9.50 and there is no difference in price between the tortilla and bed of greens.

To end off a great meal, the fabulous Irish Cream vegan cupcake!  This cupcake was MUCH better than the first cupcake I had here.  To clarify, Fresh gets all their desserts and sweets from Sweets From the Earth, a popular Toronto vegan bakery that not only operates and bakes in a shop of their own, but also provides vegan desserts to a number of retailers around the city.  The cupcakes at Fresh are priced at $3.25, which does place them in the higher end of cupcake prices around the city.  They do, however, have a take-out special going on right now where you can get any dessert and drink from the menu for $5.75 between 2:30pm-5:30pm on weekdays, hurray!

The very first cupcake I tried here, the chocolate vanilla cream filled cupcake, just didn’t live up.  It was adorable because it looked like a Hostess cupcake, but it was on the drier side and it ended up falling flat for me.  However, the Irish Cream cupcake was a world of difference.  The chocolate cupcake was very moist and a little fudgy, and the frosting was very light and creamy with hints of vanilla, mocha, chocolate, and cream.  It’s not your typical thick, sweet frosting, it’s much lighter and creamier and airier.  This was a YUMMY cupcake though and it proved that the first dessert wasn’t for me and that there are plenty of others I can enjoy here.

That Fresh hankering of mine will soon be soothed, but in the meantime, it’s nice to refresh my memory and taste buds with these photos and scrapbook pages 😀

*****

Fresh currently serves 3 locations in downtown Toronto:

  1. 326 Bloor St. West (right off the intersection of Spadina Ave. and Bloor St. West, just east of Spadina)
  2. 894 Queen St. West (at the intersection of Crawford St. and Queen St. West, near Trinity Bellwoods Park)
  3. 147 Spadina Ave. (near the intersection of Spadina Ave. and Queen St. West, a block south of Queen)

Scrapbooking materials used: cobalt blue and violet cardstock (Recollections); patterned paper (Choco Mod Patterns by DCWV, Green Pinstripe by Recollections Basics, Purple Daze by Recollections); glitter floral embellishment (Wild Saffron Grand Adhesions by K&Company); pastel spring glitter alphabet stickers (Lion Sleeps Alphabet, Suzi Ultman for K&Company); purple and pink heart stickers (Sticko); coffee cup sticker (Pierre Belvédère); black fine point Sharpie marker; circle paper punch (Marvy Uchida).

Thick, Sweet Frosting & Fudgy Chocolate: Vegan Cupcakes at Blue Banana

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Oh how I’ve missed blogging about cupcakes.  I know it hasn’t been that long, but it’s felt like an eternity because I’ve been so impatient to share more cupcake adventures with you guys!  I was really excited to finally get these pictures developed for this layout and I worked my tooshie off to get this 4-pager all nice and pretty for today 😀  Although I don’t scrapbook a lot of cupcake pictures (sometimes I just like keeping photos in albums; I don’t feel the urge to scrap absolutely everything, ha!), it’s SO much fun when I do because cupcakes themselves are fun and colourful and whimsical, and what I have for you all today are deliciously chocolatey vegan cupcakes from the Blue Banana Market coffee shop in Kensington Market.

I know I toot my horn a lot about this neighbourhood.  Heck, I think I have 2 posts from this past week alone dedicated to it (yesterday’s holiday cookie photos and King’s Café from Christmas eve), but I can’t help it because I simply love it so much.  And Blue Banana is one of my FAVOURITE places to shop in the city.  Located at 250 Augusta Ave. (nearest major intersection is College St. and Spadina Ave., west of Spadina), it’s this giant gift shop with everything from offbeat clothing and jewelry on the 2nd floor, to stationery, candy, kitchen accessories, books, lotion, and toys on the ground floor.  And by the front entrance is the cutesy coffee shop with delightful desserts like cookies, Turkish delight, chocolate covered pretzels, brownies, and carrot cake among other things.

Now, I can’t comment on the java as I’ve never had a cuppa joe there (remember how I mentioned I didn’t like coffee?  I know, go ahead and chuck things at me), but I can tell you how good the cupcakes are.  They are different and in the best way possible.  They are chocolatey moist and denser in texture than your average non-vegan cupcake.  You can taste the richness of the chocolate cake batter and it’s a very well-rounded flavour.  You’re not left with a dry aftertaste and the frosting on these sweet things are just amazing. 

Cupcake frosting is done differently all across the board and  The Cupcake Shoppe by Yonge and Eglinton does theirs buttercream style.  These vegan cupcakes on the other hand are topped with a frosting of a thicker, sugary cream consistency that tastes like spun sugar.  When you take a bite of the cake and frosting together, it is heaven in your mouth.  It’s thick and sweet and SO delicious when you have a mouthful of the frosting with the fudgy cake.  For those are who interested in knowing the ingredients that go into making these cupcakes vegan, I am working on getting this information, so I’ll be sure to let y’all know when I have it!

Now here’s an interesting tidbit to keep in mind: Blue Banana is simply a retailer that sells these cupcakes in their shop on behalf of another cupcakery in the city, OMG Baked Goodness (located at 1561 Dundas St. West) who delivers these sweet treats to Blue Banana every day, so there’s more than one location you can snag these vegan cupcakes!  And yes, you can bet your sweet butt I’ll be paying a visit to OMG Baked Goodness when I get the chance 😀  If you’re curious, thus far I’ve had the cupcake with orange frosting and edible pearl, orange frosting and crystal sprinkles, chocolate frosting with pink crystal sprinkles, and the carrot cake (not pictured or scrapbooked).  My favourites?  The ones with the crystal sprinkles. 

Cupcakes are $2.65 each (before taxes) and you can eat them in the coffee shop or take them to go…like me, in a cup with a fork, haha.  Seriously, if you don’t take it to go in something, you are going to wind up with frosting all over your nose, face, and mouth.  It was cute having my boyfriend Richard lick kiss the frosting off me, but you know…you don’t always have assistance with you *laughs*

*****

Scrapbooking materials used: Neon green, indigo violet, periwinkle, bubble gum pink, and white cardstock (Recollections); “I ❤ Cupcakes” stickers (Sticko); adhesive gems; alphabet stickers (K & Company); circle paper punch; curly whirl paper punch; medium scallop circle paper punch (ek success)

A thank you to my friend Maria who sent me the curly whirl paper punch, and my dear Mindy who sent me the sheet of “I ❤ Cupcakes” stickers.  I ❤ you!