Best of the City 2012: six of Toronto’s best sweet things, from vegan brownies to fior di latte gelato
Il Gelatiere Artigianale
647 Mount Pleasant Rd., 416-488-2663
“Fior di latte” translates as “flower of milk,” and whether it’s made into mozz and dotted on thin-crust pizza or churned into ice cream and scooped into a cone ($4), its whole-milk flavour is unmistakable. This family-run shop makes 90 litres of fior di latte gelato every two days. Most of it is used as a base for other flavours, but about 20 per cent is sold as is—just fresh cow’s milk and touch of sugar. Delicate yet unbelievably rich, it has a simple hint of sweetness that makes even the purest vanilla ice cream seem, well, vanilla by comparison.
3054 Dundas St. W., 647-352-2975
Vegan treats are usually sawdust-dry or fruitcake-heavy—the stuff of food martyrs, not hedonists. Bunners’ owner Ashley Wittig avoids those pitfalls with a blend of gluten-free flours and, as she puts it, “lots and lots of applesauce.” Her phenomenal brownie ($3.25) is, like everything she makes, entirely indulgent. The applesauce binds the batter like eggs and makes the cake incredibly moist, while Fairtrade cocoa and a huge helping of dairy-free chocolate chips provide a deep chocolate hit that will satisfy any sweet tooth, egg-averse or otherwise.
ICE CREAM SANDWICH
2590 Yonge St., 416-483-2590
Fried dough is all the rage, especially at this midtown diner, which procured its showpiece doughnut maker from New York’s famous Dreesen’s Donuts. The machine pumps out piping hot vanilla rings, which are best enjoyed in pairs with a tennis ball–sized scoop of Greg’s famous roasted marshmallow ice cream melting in between. Drizzled with chocolate or caramel and topped with nuts, crushed Skor bars or sprinkles, the sandwiches ($5.50) require a knife and fork, and a free afternoon to recover from the sugar rush.
Trump Tower, 325 Bay St., 416-637-5550
Pastry chef David Chow trained at Le Cordon Bleu and brings a French flourish to even the most homespun desserts. His lemon-lavender gâteau is a Jenga tower of sensational flavours and textures: a featherweight, lavender-flecked citrus cake layered with kapow-packing lemon mousse and a delicate filigree of lavender-pistachio tuile. Alongside, there’s a scoop of tart yogurt sorbet and a pile of lavender pearls that look like tiny bath beads and burst with floral punch. $13.
92–95 Front St. E., St. Lawrence Market, 416-214-0101
Oleg Konashenkov (a former beekeeper) sells raw Tasmanian Leatherwood Honey from a basement stall in the Market. The stuff is almost absurdly artisanal. A team of beekeepers camps out in the Tasmanian rainforest every year between January and March to capture the fleeting blossoms of the leatherwood tree. The nectar is processed using a specialized cold-temperature technique that ensures a super-creamy texture. It’s $23 a tin, and worth every cent. A light floral sweetness and a spicy warmth make it terrific with toast, tea or cheese—or straight from the can.
205 Delaware Ave., 416-901-3500
Rosanne Pezzelli, the city’s most creative cake decorator, was an OCAD student, illustrator and painter before she studied pastry at George Brown and sugar (yes, there’s a whole class for that) at the French Culinary Institute in New York. Her dual education is evident in every eye-popping, wildly detailed cake she creates. For one little boy’s birthday, she crafted a pitch-perfect Fender Telecaster out of cake and pastillage, complete with different gauges of florist wire for the strings and a robin’s-egg-blue paint job ($400). The family was so happy with the guitar that they ordered an Eddie Van Halen Phase 90 effects pedal cake as a follow-up.