For my birthday this year I planned a huge excursion. I grabbed the four closest and sweetest people in my life and headed to five of the sweetest artisanal confectionary shops in Toronto. Since forever I have heard only good things about Cake Opera Co., Bobbette and Belle, For the Love of Cake, Dufflet and The Cupcake Shoppe so I just had to find out for myself. There is nothing like sampling the fine cupcakes of Toronto and discovering the presentation, ambiance and flavours all for yourself.
The first place on the map was Cake Opera Co. and from the awe-inspiring online gallery, it was one not to be missed. Both Alexandria Pellegrino and Jessica Smith have been doing their cake thing for ages now, but it wasn’t until very recently that they opened up shop. Their collective sense of style and taste is covetable and you can’t help but want to take away one of their top of the line cupcakes which they romantically and rightfully refer to as ‘Petits Gateaux’. At $4.25 a pop, their appearance was dazzling and we had no problem shelling out the cash to get four out of their six flavours. All of this is beside the fact of how wonderfully kind and welcoming both Alexandria and Jessica were. Alexandria took the time to chat to me and my little posse for at least 25 minutes. She is sooo down to earth and took the time to explain some of the little experiences she has had through the years. I loved every minute and we all left with our cupcakes beautifully packaged and put them away for later.
Initially the plan was to eat the cupcakes throughout the day, but without seating room at all the locations, we thought it would be a better idea if we took all the cupcakes from each location, brought them all home and divided them equally instead of eating on the run or in the car.
The next stop on the way was The Cupcake Shoppe. Unfortunately, it was closed due to some renovation work so instead we made a pit stop for lunch and had customized burgers…Mmmm….Canadian burgers with a side of poutine fries.
Queen Street was our next district and Bobbette and Belle was our next stop. First impression of this was shop was that it was huge! Like Cake Opera Co., Bobbette and Belle are known first and foremost for cake making. But where you can find a great cake, a great cupcake is lurking not far behind. I forgot the retail price per cupcake but on their website they charge $4.00 per cupcake. Here we purchased two classic flavours, chocolate with a hazelnut flavoured chocolate frosting (mmm, tasted like Nutella) and a classic vanilla cupcake with a chunk of shortbread in the frosting. A great piece of advice I got from Alexandria Pellegrino that day, which I totally agree with, is that the sign of a truly great baker is his/her vanilla recipe. So that I why I decided on buying those flavours.
Bobbette and Belle is huge. I have actually never seen a baked goods shop that large. The space spanned about the size of two retail shops, not just one. The guy behind the counter was uber friendly and since I am a big cupcake fan, I asked all types of questions and he was happy to answer them all. During our chat, business was steady and many people came and went, happy with their purchases of cupcakes and other baked and handmade goods. It was great to see. So after 25 minutes we took our cupcakes and continued to fill up our trunk.
It was getting late quickly so we rushed over to our next location in search of 4D cupcakes from For the Love of Cake. It was definitely out of the way and we were glad we had the car with us. We got there just before they closed so the selection was slim pickens. Nevertheless, we grabbed four cupcakes for $2.50 each. We chose the Red Velvet, the Tiramisu, a Chocolate Covered Banana cupcake and the Rocky Road. All of the cupcakes have four dimensions: the cake itself, the frosting, a filling and a garnish. I was really excited to get a full cupcake experience. We carried yet more goodies to our car.
The last and final stop was Dufflet which is opened until the latest of the stores we visited, until 19:00. They had monster big cupcakes and great customer service. We spoke with the two guys serving the sweet treats and we all chatted away for another 20 minutes. The cupcakes there cost about $2.50 also. We made our decisions (chocolate and vanilla) and loaded up the car one final time. our trunk was full of cupcakes at this point and we drove home to delve into our goodies.
Cupcakes in Review
I don’t usually like to equate price with quality but in our cupcake trial this was the case. The best (and most expensive) enjoyed by ALL of the cupcake testers were those from Cake Opera Co. I have to give the cupcakes credit though. Even when leaving the price out of the equation, the quality and design of flavours was top-notch. The coconut one tasted of coconuts and not like tanning oil, the use of Valhrona chocolate was fantastic and the use of handmade fruit leather with no less than 24k gold specks, as part of the raspberry cupcakes was a raving success.
The second favourite was the Bobbette and Belle cupcakes. In my opinion as well as in Mr. Cupcake’s, the vanilla was fantastic and that’s saying something. The Nutella-like chocolate frosting on the chocolate cupcake was also very delicious and inspired me to try this as a flavour option for my cupcakes. Germans definitely like their Nutella!
The cupcakes from the remaining bakeries, were not as well received. They were liked but there were not raved about. Sometimes you know that the price you pay is just because of a brand name or a market reputation, but here we all agreed the quality was reflected in the price and we’d all go back in the blink of an eye to our cupcake tour winners, Cake Opera Co.!
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