Subtle (and Delicious) Pastries at Roselle Desserts

Roselle DessertsLocation: 362 King Street East, Toronto
Websitehttp://www.roselleto.com/

I think “subtle” is the best word to describe what they’re serving at Roselle Desserts, a charming little bakery on King, just around the corner from the Distillery District.

I tried three things: a chocolate chunk cookie, a chocolate souffle cookie, and a raspberry madeleine.

Roselle Desserts

The souffle cookie was the best of the three.  It had a rich, deeply cocoa-infused flavour, with a surprisingly subtle amount of sweetness.  It also had a really satisfying texture: lightly crispy on the outside, and soft and fudgy on the inside.

Roselle Desserts

Lack of sweetness seems to be a theme here; the chocolate chunk cookie was also way more subtle than the norm.  It’s a great quality cookie, with a nice chewy texture and a very generous amount of tasty chocolate chunks.

Roselle Desserts

Unlike the other two, the lack of sweetness felt like a detriment with the madeleine; this one was way too subtle for its own good, with only a vague whisper of raspberry flavour.  The sweetness here was so restrained that I’m not even sure this should be classified as a dessert.

Delicious Chocolate Chip Cookies at Craig’s Cookies

Craig's CookiesLocation: 1537 Queen Street West, Toronto
Websitehttps://www.craigscookies.com/

Though there are a handful of places to get delicious, freshly-baked cookies in the GTA, there are very few dedicated cookie shops.  It’s actually kind of baffling; everybody loves cookies, don’t they?

There’s Felix & Norton in Markham, and apparently there’s a place called Robyn’s Cookies that I literally just discovered on Google moments ago, and… that’s about it.  There used to be Moo Milk Bar near the Beaches; they had amazing cookies, but alas, they went under.

Craig's Cookies

Thankfully, there’s a new contender in Toronto’s very un-crowded cookie shop field: Craig’s Cookies.

They sell nothing but cookies and ice cream cookie sandwiches.  I have a lot of respect for a place that does one thing, and does it well.

Craig's Cookies

And man, does Craig’s Cookies ever do it well.  They have a whole bunch of really delicious-looking cookies; I went with Nutella, which is a standard chocolate chip cookie with a whole bunch of Nutella in the middle.

Pretty much anything with that much Nutella is going to be delicious, but I was actually shocked at how good the cookie itself was.  It had a perfect flavour, a great crispy/chewy contrast, and enough chocolate chips to give it that chocolatey hit, but not so many that it’s all you taste.

Craig's Cookies

It also had a great balance of salt, which I think is the secret with a cookie like this.  You need a little bit of salt to help balance out the cookie’s sweetness, and Craig’s nails this.  There’s just enough salt for it to do its job, but not so much that it stands out.  Perfection.

Terrible Ice Cream at Baskin Robbins

Baskin RobbinsLocation: 855 The Queensway, Etobicoke
Websitehttp://www.baskinrobbins.ca/

This probably won’t come as much of a surprise: it turns out that the ice cream at Baskin Robbins isn’t very good.  I haven’t been there in several years, but I remember it being decent enough.

Either I’ve become pickier in the meantime, or it’s become worse.  Probably a bit of both.

I tried the current flavour of the month, Cookies ‘n Cake: “Cake flavored ice cream, cookie pieces, and a chocolate cake batter flavored ribbon.”

Baskin Robbins

The quality of the ice cream itself was pretty bad; it was slightly better than really bottom-of-the-barrel stuff like Chapman’s, but that’s really not saying much.  The texture was thin and unsatisfying.

The flavour was even worse.  I’ve eaten a lot of cake in my lifetime, and none of it even remotely tasted like the ice cream here.  I’m normally fine with artificial, cake-flavoured junk food, but this stuff was just vile.  I’m having a hard time even figuring out how to describe the flavour — it was acrid and unpleasant and weird.

The cookie chunks were good, at least — they were Oreo pieces, so no surprise there.  But the “chocolate cake batter flavored ribbon” basically just tasted like a sweeter, less chocolatey version of Nesquik chocoalte syrup.  It wasn’t offensive like the ice cream, but it wasn’t particularly good, either.

Delicious Cupcakes and Cookies at Short and Sweet Bakeshop

Short and Sweet BakeshopLocation: 111 Richmond Street West, Toronto (in the Assembly Chef’s Hall)
Websitehttp://shortandsweetcupcakes.ca/

Are you a cake person or a frosting person?  Because the cupcake I had at Short and Sweet is making me doubt myself.  Generally I prefer a cupcake that’s a bit heavier on the cake in the cake-to-frosting ratio, but Short and Sweet goes hard in the other direction.  And yet I quite enjoyed it.

As you can see from the photo of its midsection, between the injected sauce and the icing on top, it’s something like 35 percent cake, and 65 percent sauce and frosting.  It’s pretty intense.

Short and Sweet Bakeshop

I got the Dream Team cupcake, which is a vanilla cupcake that’s been topped with vanilla buttercream and a swirl of caramel and chocolate sauces.  It’s also injected with the aforementioned sauces.   It’s an intense, in-your-face sugar bomb — and yet it somehow isn’t too sweet.  All of the flavours go together so well.

Short and Sweet Bakeshop

It helps that all of the individual components are great — the cake is moist and fluffy, the buttercream is smooth and velvety, and the two sauces are great.  In particular, the rich, dulce-de-leche-esque caramel sauce is absolutely fantastic.  But everything is so sweet, and altogether you’d think it would be way too sweet, but it isn’t.  It works.

Short and Sweet Bakeshop

I also tried the s’mores cookie sandwich, which consists of two above-average chocolate chip cookies encasing a whole bunch of chocolate frosting and marshmallow sauce.

Do I even need to say anything else?  Or does it go without saying that it was delicious?  Because it’s just as good as you’d hope it would be.

Short and Sweet Bakeshop

I should note that it’s incredibly heavy, both figuratively and literally — the thing must weigh like half a pound, so eating this all at once isn’t advisable unless you have a particularly large appetite.  But it’s so, so good.

Felix & Norton Frozen Cookie Disappointment

Felix and NortonI used to love Felix & Norton.  Their Unionville location was in a plaza right across from where I went to high school, so cookies were a regular occurrence.  I remember them being some of the best store-bought cookies around: lightly crispy and chewy, with a really great buttery flavour and high-quality chocolate chunks.

So when I saw unbaked Felix & Norton cookies in the freezer section at a local Loblaws, I couldn’t get them in my cart fast enough.

Felix and Norton

And it’s not a bad deal: nine bucks for a 500 gram bag, which works out to about 20 cookies.  I got Menage a Trois, which features cookies with white, milk, and dark chocolate chunks.

Felix and Norton

Alas, these weren’t the Felix & Norton cookies I remembered.   The chunks were more like tiny chocolate fragments, and barely added any chocolate flavour at all.  The cookies were just blandly sweet.  They were also insanely greasy, and yet had almost zero buttery flavour.

Felix and Norton

They weren’t the worst things ever, I guess — they were certainly better than something like Chips Ahoy, but they’re not even close to being in the same league as what you can get at the store.