Happy Friday, friends – and happy St. Patrick’s Day to those of you who celebrate! I hope you enjoyed my recent post about Peach Coffee Co. – and many thanks to those of you who left kind comments about the cake I made for my dad’s birthday! With three layers and two different types of homemade frosting, it certainly was a labour of love, but it was worth it – I was so happy with how it turned out.
While I love to bake, and nothing beats a homemade dessert made with love, I have to admit that sometimes there’s also something to be said for simply going to a bakery! If you’re in a crunch for time – or just don’t feel like spending hours in the kitchen – then sometimes it’s worth it to pay someone to create a delicious dessert for you. Plus, unless you’re an expert baker (which, despite enjoying baking as a hobby, I’m certainly not!) a professional creation will likely be prettier – and taste better – than anything you could make at home. Living in Toronto for so many years spoiled me: when it comes to top-notch bakeries, the city has something to suit every occasion, palate and price point. Luckily, I still live relatively close to Toronto (and because I work downtown, I’m there at least twice a week) so I still have an excuse to visit all the amazing food places I’ve grown to know and love. On that note, I thought it’d be fun to round up my top ten picks for best dessert shops in Toronto. Whether you’re looking for a fancy cake for a special occasion, a box of exquisitely decorated éclairs to impress a crowd, or simply a comforting slice of pie to satisfy your sweet tooth, I’m confident you’ll find the perfect option on this list! So without further ado, let’s get started…
Carole’s Cheesecake Café – This cozy Yorkville café specializes in – you guessed it – cheesecake! Not just any old cheesecake, mind you, but cheesecake in every flavour you could imagine: from lemon to strawberry to chocolate, and everything in between. One thing that sets Carole’s apart from other dessert shops is that they also serve cocktails, which makes this a great spot for a date night, girls’ night out or just a fun post-dinner treat. Tania and I shared the red velvet and the pistachio cheesecake – I highly recommend them both – paired with a French 75 and an Aperol Spritz. Each cocktail is created using Carole’s yummy house-made syrups, so you really can’t go wrong with anything on their menu!
Daan Go Cake Lab – With locations in downtown Toronto, Mississauga, Richmond Hill and Scarborough, this pastry shop gets my vote for the cutest desserts in the GTA. They’re well-known for their quirky character macarons, which come in a variety of adorable animal shapes. Their other desserts are perfectly on brand with the cute critter theme. My favourite treats are the Tira-Meow-Su (tiramisu served in an edible chocolate cup and topped with a marshmallow cat), the Mr. Carrotail (a bunny-shaped carrot cake with cream cheese mousse and dulce de leche) and the Lucky Duck (lemon curd and pistachio cream, topped with a chocolate duck and served in a mini-bathtub.) If you’re looking for a dessert that’ll make someone smile, this is where to go!
Delysees – Each exquisitely crafted dessert at this luxury bakery is truly a work of art. You can order one of their over-the-top cake creations online, or pop into their boutique (they have locations in Yorkville and Ossington Village) to try one of their individual desserts. From miniature cheesecakes to tiramisus to lemon tarts, I can promise you just one thing: choosing won’t be easy! Tania and I recently treated ourselves to dessert here after our anniversary dinner at Il Covo, and we were blown away. We got a strawberry cheesecake and pistachio tart to share – both were outstanding. These desserts don’t come cheap – each individual cake costs about $10 – but we both felt the prices were reasonable when you consider the ingredients and craftsmanship that goes into each creation. Plus, the portions are deceptively generous – we both had leftovers to take home! Bonus points for super sweet staff and their gorgeous gold flatware (what can I say, I’m a details person…)
Millie Desserts – Have you ever tried a mille crepe cake? If not, you’re seriously missing out! These soft, delicate, lighter-than-air cakes consist of multiple layers of paper-thin crepes, sandwiched together with fluffy pastry cream. Millie specializes in crepe cakes in a variety of delicious flavours, from matcha to earl grey to tiramisu. They also do rotating seasonal flavours – for instance, they’re now offering Sakura cherry blossom crepe cakes for spring! You can order whole cakes online, or stop into their shop in the Entertainment District to grab a slice to go. They also make chocolate smash hearts, cupcakes, hot chocolate bombs, and some other delicious treats – keep an eye on their Instagram to see what they’ve been crafting lately.
Neo Coffee Bar – This Japanese bakery and café is famous for their pretty roll cakes. Also referred to as a Swiss roll, a roll cake is just what it sounds like: it’s rolled-up chiffon cake filled with whipped cream, and often fresh fruit. Neo rotates a few different cake flavours, but I highly recommend their classic strawberry roll cake – it’s light, airy and utterly delicious! They also happen to make a great latte. Neo has two locations: one at Frederick and King and one at Bay and College, with a new location at King and Spadina coming soon. Take a peek at their menu to view their full selection of desserts, which also includes Sakura cherry blossom cheesecake (a seasonal special), basque burnt cheesecake and strawberry shortcake.
Nugateau – If you’re celebrating a special occasion and are looking for a dessert that’ll “wow”, look no further than Nugateau. They were Canada’s first éclair-only patisserie, and while they now offer a variety of other desserts – cakes, macarons, chocolates and candies – they’re still best-known for their éclairs, which are their signature offering. Nugateau’s scrumptious selection of gourmet éclairs are made in-house by their talented pastry chefs, using the highest quality ingredients and no artificial flavours. You could almost say their offerings are too pretty to eat, but I’ve truly never said that and meant it! Just make sure to savour each bite, because these gorgeous desserts are as delicious as they are beautiful. You can order an assorted box of goodies online, or simply pop into their Queen West boutique and pick up a treat to go.
Petite Bouchée Patisserie – Located in the trendy Junction Triangle neighbourhood, this small independent bakery is where we got my dad’s birthday cake last year, and we were so impressed! It’s owned by Nancy Claro, who opened her own bakery – which she called “a dream come true” – after studying Baking Arts at George Brown College and working as a pastry chef at Portuguese restaurant Adega. We ordered the classic chocolate cake, which is truly one of the most beautiful cakes I’ve ever seen. The frosting swirls are so delicate and intricate, and the cake is made with black cocoa powder, which gives it a distinct near-black hue – much darker than you’d expect from a typical chocolate cake. The cake was rich, decadent and oh so delicious. If you’re not in the market for an entire cake, Petite Bouchée Patisserie also sells individual treats like tarts, cupcakes and crème caramels that you can pick up in store.
Roselle Desserts – This adorable bakery’s slogan is “dessert makes you happy”, and I promise you that if you’re ordering one of their desserts, happiness will follow. Like Delysees, they specialize in beautifully crafted individual desserts such as tarts, eclairs and opera cakes. My favourite one of their creations is the Pistachio Honey St. Honore, which consists of light-as-air puff pastry topped with pistachio mousse, fresh whipped cream and crystallized honey. Be sure to stop by Roselle in the summer months, when they sell their signature Earl Grey soft serve – it’s ice cream perfection.
Venezia Bakery – This family-run Portuguese bakery on the Ossington Strip is beloved within the community. It’s been around since 1979, and owners João and Maria Caetano treat all their customers like family, whether you’re a loyal patron or a first-time visitor! In addition to their home-baked artisanal breads, Venezia sells a variety of delightful Portuguese pastries, from classic custard tarts to Sonhos (Portuguese doughnuts). By the way, did you know the literal English translation of “Sonhos” is “dreams”? Seems about right! I love Venezia’s classic coconut-topped custard tarts, but I’ve also been known to enjoy their orange and chocolate tarts. What can I say, I don’t pick favourites!
Wanda’s Pie In The Sky – In my opinion, there are few things better than a delicious slice of fresh fruit pie, so I couldn’t finish this list without including at least one pie shop. And if this list was dedicated to pie shops only, Wanda’s would be number one. This Kensington Market staple has been serving up an extensive selection of sweet and savoury pies since 2007. Owner Wanda Beaver has been baking professionally since the mid-80s, when she was in university and started selling her homemade pies to bring in some extra cash. Today, this cheery and welcoming café is a beloved neighbourhood favourite. Wanda’s offerings range from classic fruit pies like apple and blueberry, to decadent custard pies like pumpkin and pecan, to silky cream pies like banana, coconut and key lime. My personal favourite is the Ontario Sour Cherry, which also happens to be Wanda’s signature pie. You can order whole pies by phone or email, or simply stop in and grab an individual slice to enjoy.
Well, that’s all, folks… I hope you enjoyed this round-up of my favourite dessert spots in Toronto. And if you’re a sweet tooth like me, I apologize for the sugar cravings this post inevitably spiked!
Do you have a favourite dessert spot in (or near) Toronto? Please let me know… I’ll put them on speed dial for the next time I’m needing a sweets fix!
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