In partnership with Tourism Toronto
Any city worth its salt will be able to satisfy every craving for something sweet. Toronto is no exception: Whether you want to risk brain freeze with a towering soft-serve built for Instagram or need to compare the merits of multiple croissants, you’ll be covered.
A cupcake crawl through Leslieville
This east-end neighbourhood was once home to gardeners and brickmakers; it’s since become the stomping grounds for young families navigating brunch spots, antique shops and ample parkettes. Begin your crawl at Leslieville stalwart Sweet Bliss, which has been kicking since 2006. The cupcakes here are as pretty as a picture — vibrant icing; restrained use of sprinkles — and the shop is equally proud of its Americano. Grab one to power you through all the sugar that awaits. sweetblissleslieville.com.
Over at Bobbette & Belle, classic cupcakes like red velvet and vanilla frosted are displayed next to a few tasty wildcards: salted caramel, mango passionfruit, cookies and cream. They’re especially popular for weddings, so if some window-shopping bride-to-be has beaten you to the cupcake punch, grab a macaron (or five) instead. bobbetteandbelle.com.
Detour from Queen Street up Carlaw Avenue to hit Desmond and Beatrice, where the cupcakes come in miniature so it’s easy to rationalize getting a whole bunch. Stock up on unexpected flavours like chai latte or key lime; the egg-less brownies and chocolate chip cookies mean vegans can snack, too. desmondandbeatrice.com.
Admit it: You’re now tired of cupcakes. Swing past Delica Kitchen for an almond butter and chocolate chip cookie, or try the shop’s delicate spin on an Oreo. There are also freshly made sandwiches, if what you require is protein and lettuce instead of more sugar, as well as coffee next door at Mercury Espresso Bar to wash it all down. delicakitchen.ca, @mercuryespresso.
Ridiculous ice cream at Sweet Jesus
Just up the street from the gorgeous TIFF Lightbox complex in the city’s entertainment district is an ice cream experience. Line up next to a gaggle of smart phone-clutching patrons keen to Instagram the crazy frozen concoctions. And Sweet Jesus doesn’t hold back: The Elvis dips banana soft-serve in peanut butter and candied bacon bits; Krusty the Cone comes tufted with blue and pink cotton candy; a strawberry shortcake option comes with hunks of Ontario strawberries and bigger hunks of cake. Start snapping. sweetjesus4life.com.
Award-winning chocolate at Soma
Housed in a former whisky-aging tankhouse that dates to the middle of the 19th century, Soma’s flagship store can be found in the Distillery, Toronto’s cobblestone, pedestrian-only enclave where Victorian factories have been transformed into artist studios, design stores and a microbrewery. And Soma’s sweets are as impressive as the setting. The company has nabbed nearly every imaginable prize for its creations — most recently, top spot at the International Chocolate Awards for a dark-chocolate bar — and its holiday treats are preposterous delights. We’re particular fans of the quizzical Easter bunnies. somachocolate.com.
Ice-cream sandwiches at Bakerbots
A decadent amount of baked goods — pies and profiteroles and tarts stuffed with pecans or fruit or ample butter —magically appear year round out of Bakerbots’ half-sized oven. In the warmer months, though, it’s hard to beat the exceptional ice cream sandwiches. The cookies are of a higher calibre: There’s a spicy ginger one made with Barbados molasses and another one that doubles down with peanut butter and a salted peanut brittle. Wrap them around tart ice cream flavours like pink lemonade, extra-child-friendly options like “frooty loops” or a smooth, classic vanilla bean. bakerbotsbaking.com.
A croissant crawl through Roncesvalles
Roncesvalles crams a lot into a single north-south street in Toronto’s west end: There’s a second-run theatre, a first-rate Cuban restaurant, adorable clothing stores and a handful of Polish butchers and churches. But you’re here for the croissants, and among Cherry Bomb regulars, the almond and the cheddar varieties inspire equal devotion. Coffee, critical for the start of any crawl, is made with beans from Spitfire Roasters, which the owners launched themselves in 2012, three years after opening their west-end shop. cherrybombcoffee.ca.
Co-owned by a former Cherry Bomb employee, Extra Butter offers fresh chocolate croissants whipped up in the baking kitchen in the back. That kitchen is also responsible for a savoury take on the cinnamon roll, with bacon, maple-mustard sauce and cheese. @extrabuttercoffeeto.
The croissants at Mabel’s are baked twice for an extra-flaky texture, and the almond paste boasts a hint of rum for deeper flavour. If they’re gone by the time you make it in (and they often are), the shop also bakes tons of different breads each morning and roughly ten kinds of pies. mabelsbakery.ca.
The mad geniuses at Fantail have devised something called a Cinnful bun, a baked alliance between a croissant and a cinnamon bun. If, however, you’ve come to the end of your crawl looking for a different kind of breakfast, hand-held frittatas are wrapped in white parchment paper for easy gobbling. fantail.biz.
Watch: Make it Fancy: Cupcakes