A Delicious Butter Tart at Kate’s Town Talk Bakery

Kate's Town Talk Bakery
Location
: 206C Queen Street South, Streetsville
Website: https://www.katestowntalk.ca/

It’s always a good sign when a bakery puts one of their pastries in a paper bag and it becomes translucent with buttery goodness.  If the paper bag looks pristine?  Sorry, that pastry probably sucks.  I don’t make the rules.

Kate's Town Talk Bakery

Though they have an assortment of sweet and savoury pastries, the specialty at Kate’s Town Talk Bakery is clearly the butter tart, which you can get with pecans, raisins, raspberry Nutella, or on its own.

Kate's Town Talk Bakery

I got the pecan variety, and oh man, it’s good.  The sign outside says that the butter tarts here “rival the best you’ve ever tasted,” and you know what?  They’re not wrong.  I wish the filling were a bit gooier, but other than that it’s basically butter tart perfection: the crust is perfectly flaky, the filling has a great toffee-like flavour, and it’s got those great crispy caramelized edges that are pretty much irresistible.

Kate's Town Talk Bakery

I’m not sure that it’s the best best butter tart that I’ve ever had, but it’s right up there, that’s for sure.

Outstanding Pastries at Barbershop Patisserie

Barbershop Patisserie
Location
: 859 College Street, Toronto
Website: https://barbershoppatisserie.square.site/

I’m sorry to have to inform you, but this is one of those “stop whatever you’re doing right now and visit this bakery” moments, so whatever you’re doing right now — even if it’s important — stop it immediately.  Get in your car, or get on public transit, and head over to Barbershop Patisserie.  It’s the real deal.

Barbershop Patisserie

I’ve been there a few times now, and everything is fantastic.  Apparently their most popular pastry is the lemon bichon, which is kind of like a kouign-amann — it features a flaky, croissant-like laminated pastry and an exterior layer of crispy sugar, which has a deep, dark caramelized flavour.  But it’s also filled with a generous amount of creamy, tart lemon curd, which contrasts perfectly with the sweet exterior.  It’s not the most photogenic dessert ever, but man it’s amazing.  It’s probably one of the best pastries I’ve ever had.

Barbershop Patisserie

The chocolate chip cookie isn’t quite as mind-blowing as the lemon bichon (what is?), but it’s a top-notch cookie, with a great contrast between its crispy exterior and chewy interior, and a very generous amount of above average chocolate.  The light sprinkling of salt on top helps to balance things out.

Barbershop Patisserie

I also tried the wild blueberry custard tart, and hey, guess what?  It’s delicious.  It features a great balance between the creamy custard and the sweet blueberries, and of course that buttery pastry is outstanding.

Barbershop Patisserie

But why are you still reading this?  You should be on your way already.

Amazing Pastries at Cho-Kwok-Lat

Cho-Kwok-Lat
Location
: 31 Main Street North, Markham
Website: https://chokwoklat.com/

There are a whole bunch of really good bakeries doing fancy French desserts in the GTA, so if you want to stand out, you’d better be really good.

Cho-Kwok-Lat stands out.

Cho-Kwok-Lat

They have two display counters; one with tasty looking croissants, and the other with fancy cakes.  I wanted to eat everything in both displays immediately.  The woman behind the counter said that the chocolate rum almond croissant is their most popular, so I figured that was probably a good choice.

Cho-Kwok-Lat

It’s immediately clear why it’s so popular.  It’s basically like an almond croissant and a pain au chocolate had a baby, and it’s just the absolute best.  The combination of the tasty almond paste and the great quality chocolate is so good, and the croissant itself is buttery, flaky, and perfect.  I was worried that it might taste overly boozy, but if “rum” weren’t in its name, I don’t think I would have known it was there.

Cho-Kwok-Lat

The woman behind the counter heated it up for me, which I don’t think I’ve ever seen with a croissant like this before, but which is clearly the way to go.  The croissant was just barely warm, but it had been heated up enough to really emphasize the pasty’s exterior crisp-factor, and to make the chocolate nice and gooey.  Good stuff.

Delicious Pastries at Cannoli Crunch

Cannoli Crunch
Location
: I was at the Taste of Little Italy festival, but their permanent location is at 850 King Street West, Toronto
Website: https://www.cannolicrunch.ca/

There was a whole bunch of interesting food at the recent Taste of Little Italy street festival, though Cannoli Crunch — who make various flavours of cannoli and then fill them fresh to order — was one that I couldn’t resist.

(Also: after a couple of years of their absence thanks to you-know-what, it was quite delightful to be back at a street festival.)

Cannoli Crunch

Though some of the other flavours sounded interesting, I went with the classic ricotta-filled cannoli dipped in pistachio.  Hey, it’s a classic for a reason.

It was so good.  It was filled to order, so the shell remained abundantly crispy, as it should.  And the filling was actually quite unique; cannoli filling generally has that slightly grainy texture that you get from ricotta, but the version here was smooth like custard while still retaining its delightful ricotta flavour.

The contrast between the crispy shell and the ultra-creamy filling was really nice, and the whole thing had a perfect level of sweetness — sweet, but not in-your-face sweet.  It was a great dessert.

Sticky Bun Perfection at Sticky Bakery

Sticky Bakery
Location
: 621 Saint Clair Avenue West, Toronto
Website: https://stickybuns.ca/

I was thinking recently about how much I miss the Prairie Girl Bakery, which served the best cupcakes in town for years, and then became a tragic victim of the pandemic.  A quick googling revealed that the owner has subsequently opened a new place which, as you might surmise from its name, specializes in sticky buns.

Sticky Bakery

I’m not sure why it’s not getting more hype, because it’s seriously, seriously good.

They serve a stellar sticky bun.  It’s sweet, saucy, and perfectly moist.  The pastry itself is ultra-fluffy and delightful, and the cinnamon/caramel flavour is right where you want it to be.

Sticky Bakery

I just checked their website and apparently the default version has pecans, which I either didn’t see or they didn’t have when I visited.  Clearly, I’m going to have to go back, because it seems pretty clear that pecans would enhance this thing.

Sticky Bakery

I also tried the version topped with cream cheese frosting, which was very good, though I have to admit that I preferred the plain.  The frosting was tasty, but the sticky bun was already so incredibly delicious on its own that the cream cheese kind of just got in the way.

Seriously though, pecans??  I need to go back ASAP.