The Brightest, Happiest of Decorated Sugar Cookies & Sweets – A Photo Spotlight of Summertime at Le Dolci!

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I have never seen Le Dolci’s studio look this bright and vibrant and happy!  Tropical colours and hanging paper flowers, adorable pink-and-white gingham, new pink-and-white dessert themed window decals, and LOTS of new sweets waiting to be devoured in their retail section!  I got the chance to make a return visit to Icing Sugar Towers (well, since Le Dolci is no longer at their old Portland St. condo, maybe we’ll just call it Icing Sugar Headquarters instead) on Tuesday and I had myself a field day getting new photos of the studio and catching up with Lisa and the gang.

They have a lot going on right now:

  • a gorgeous array of decorated sugar cookies for all sorts of occasions and themes including birthdays, Father’s Day, end-of-the-school-year-teacher thank yous, Pride Toronto, summer fun and fashionista couture
  • new sweets gracing their dessert counter such as tropical macaron flavours for their summer menu, gluten-free muffins and cookies, salted caramel chocolate tarts, brownies, and melty butter tarts
  • a culinary summer camp for kids that runs from July 15 to July 26!  Kids will have the chance to try their hands at cookie baking, styrofoam cake decorating, cake, cupcake and pie baking and decorating, and pizza-making and T-shirt decorating.  Click HERE for more information on class descriptions and pricing.
  • TWO amazing foodie trips in 2013 to San Francisco and Napa Valley, California and Paris, France!
  • having their desserts and sweets showcased at other venues.  Le Dolci has created adorable princess and knight-in-shining armour decorated sugar cookies for Casa Loma and pie-in-a-jar desserts for The Happy Hooker down the street!
  • and last, but certainly not least, a special Canaday Day cupcake decorating class on Saturday, June 29 from 10am-12pm and a Royal Baby cupcake decorating class on Saturday, July 13 from 10am-12pm to honour the lovely Kate Middleton and Prince William and their first born!

Check out their class schedule HERE for all the goods on their macaron, cupcake decorating, cake pop, croissant, pastry, cake, and pie-making classes and their Foodie Trips page HERE for the scoop on culinary jet-setting!

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Le Dolci’s studio and retail shop is located at 1006 Dundas Street West, right at the corner of Dundas West and Montrose Ave. The studio is across the street from Trinity Bellwoods Park and is open for business 6 days a week.  Operating hours are from 10am-6pm from Tuesday to Saturday and 12pm-5pm on Sundays.

Hello May! Ate by Ate’s Weekly Food Event Spotlight

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dishcrawl. may 2013

Four Gastronomic Delights In One Spring Night – A Dishcrawl Event, May 7.  7pm.  Meeting spot to be revealed 48 hours prior to the event.  $50 +HST/person.  Do you think you can handle FOUR foodie delights in one night?  This Dishcrawl tour will feed those night cravings with stops at four different restaurants for a fun and unforgettable dining experience!  The restaurant locations are kept secret until the night of the event, but Dishcrawl loves to give out hints on their Twitter leading up to the event, so follow them @DishcrawlSbh if you want to take a stab at the goods!   http://www.dishcrawl.com/gastrodelights/

Pink the Town Couture

Pink the Town Invites You to Cupcakes & Couture: A Cupcake Decorating Event, May 9.  6:30pm-9:30pm.  1006 Dundas Street West.  $25 + $2.49 fee/person; 19+ ONLY as there will be alcohol served.  Walk the runway in true fashionable cupcake style! At this couture cupcake event brought to you by Pink the Town (a Canadian web and event company that connects women to their favourite brands with fun events and promotions) and Le Dolci, sip on drinks, mix and mingle with fellow fashionistas, and create stylish and delicious cupcakes with professional cupcake decorating tools, fondant, and frosting.  It’ll be a haute couture kind of night!  http://pttcupcakescouture.eventbrite.ca/# ,  http://www.ledolci.com/cupcakes-and-couture-at-le-dolci/

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ChocoSol Traders Chocolate Workshop, May 10.  6pm-8pm.  225 Geary Ave. by Dufferin St. and Dupont St.  $25/person (current discounted rate; cash payment only).  Spaces must be reserved in advance; classes are a minimum of 10 people, maximum of 25.  ChocoSol chocolate workshops unveil the magic behind raw cacao and chocolate making with classes being a mix of demos, interactive hands-on fun, and plenty of history and food info.  Learn about raw ingredients, sustainable, fair-trade practices and techniques, taste raw chocolate and drinking chocolate, purchase ChocoSol products and even get a ChocoSol facility tour while you’re there! https://chocosoltraders.wordpress.com/2013/03/22/chocolate-workshops-spring-2013/

depanneur supper club. colombian

Colombian Bandeja Paisa for Mother’s Day by Cookie Martinez: A Rusholme Park Supper Club at The Depanneur, May 11.  7:30pm.  1033 College Street.  $40+HST/person.  What better way to honour your mum than making one of her classic home-cooked dishes that recreates the history, memories, comfort, love and care that went into her cooking in the kitchen?  Cookie Martinez will be doing just that at her special Colombian supper club devoted to her mother’s bandeja paisa, a regional dish in northwest Colombia, with all the fixins!

Enjoy Cookie’s bandeja paisa which includes red beans cooked with pork, white rice, ground beef, chicharon (crispy pork belly), fried egg, plantain, chorizo, arepa, hogao sauce, avocado and lemon, with regional appetizers and desserts to complete the meal.  http://thedepanneur.ca/event/supper-club-colombian-bandeja-paisa-for-mothers-day-by-cookie-martinez/

aphrodite cooks. mother's day brunch

Mother’s Day Portuguese Brunch at Aphrodite Cooks, May 12.  11:30pm-2:30pm.  201 Weston Rd.  $75 +HST/pair.  Enjoy the flavours and dishes of Portugal with mum!  Chef Paula Costa will host this breezy Portuguese brunch class where you and mum will enjoy dishes such as eggs with peas and chourico (Portuguese sausage); Bacalhau con Natas (baked salt cod with onions and potatoes, topped with a Bechemel); salad greens with lemon olive oil dressing; and for dessert, Sonhos (Portuguese mini donuts) served with Port caramel sauce.  https://www.aphroditecooks.com/class.aspx?c_id=7e073bf0-f1b4-4782-9401-7ebfc4cf342e

The Cupcake Connection, Vol.009 – New Places, Spaces & Faces Featuring Prairie Girl Bakery, Cupcakes Leaside & Le Dolci!

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Prairie Girl Bakery in Toronto on King Street East.

Welcome to Part II of this spring’s first Cupcake Connection where we’re talking new places, spaces, and faces!  *NEWS FLASH*: Prairie Girl Bakery is expanding – again!  That’s right folks, the cupcake queen of Toronto’s downtown core with its two existing locations, is opening its 3rd location further up north in YORKVILLE!  Set to open at the end of the month, Prairie Girl will be opening its doors and wafting out the sweet scents of golden buttermilk and dark cocoa cupcakes while rubbing elbows with Louis Vuitton, COACH, Burberry,  and others at BLOOR STREET WEST & AVENUE ROAD!  Can you tell I’m ecstatic?!  Prairie Girl Bakery.  With a 3rd location.  In Yorkville.  You guys know what this means.

I can stuff my face with cupcakes while shopping my heart out at MAC and Sephora and Williams Sonoma and Whole Foods and…and…*catches breath*

BREATHE, DEB.

Prairie Girl Bakery cupcakes, Black Forest and Cherry Cheesecake cupcakes and Treats of the Week

Black Forest on Dark Cocoa and Cherry Cheesecake on Golden Buttermilk. Both on Prairie Girl Bakery’s Treats of the Week menu!

Prairie Girl Bakery mini cupcakes in Chocolate Peppermint and Cookies and Cream

Prairie Girl Bakery mini cupcake heaven – Chocolate Peppermint and Cookies and Cream.

This is so exciting!!  I got the news from Amy at Prairie Girl (thank you, Amy!) and almost started doing the Elaine dance from Seinfeld.  It’s just so perfect.  It’s within the heart of Yorkville, one of the best places to window shop and stroll in the summer, it’s walking distance from Queen’s Park (hello, perfect cupcake picnic area!), and close to so many of my favourite shopping, strolling, and eating destinations (I’m looking at you Annex, Kensington Market, Fresh, and Mela!).  I can’t wait to visit their new location and of course, I’ll report back with photos of the shop and of whichever delightful frosted confection I decide to sink my sweet teeth into on that particular day.  Keep your eyes on the cupcake for more details to come!

While Prairie Girl is set to open their new, 3rd location in the city, one cupcake shop has set up shop for the very first time in Toronto, this time on the east end in Leaside at 85 Laird Drive.  If you haven’t already, give a warm welcome to Cupcakes by Heather & Lori!  Known as The Cupcake Girls on their W network television show, Heather and Lori hail from Vancouver with 6 cupcake shops under their belt in BC alone!  I haven’t paid a visit to the shop yet but I’ve definitely given their site (www.cupcakesonline.com) more than one look-see and there are so many flavours I want to try: Lava Flow (raspberry chocolate with cream cheese frosting and raspberry dollop); Blue Hawaii (blue vanilla frosting and coconut); Raspberry Beret (raspberry filled lemon cake with lemon frosting and raspberry dollop); and Pecan Brownie (pecan brownie cake with caramel and chocolate chips inside and dolloped with cream cheese frosting).

Cupcakes Online. Leaside. website

Cupcakes Leaside and their adorable website!

I’m really looking forward to paying them my first visit not just because it’s a cupcake shop that looks adorable and makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside but because Leaside is an area that I haven’t really explored yet.  With the exception of going to Rahier and Patisserie La Cigogne on Macaron Day, the area is practically unchartered territory for me so there will be so much to see and do when I do end up going.

And since we’re on the topic of brand spankin’ new, our dear Le Dolci has introduced a slew of new classes to their already fab selection!  New to their cupcake class line-up: Cupcake Bouquets!  This class is meant to unleash every ounce of creativity in you as you create edible works of art.  Completely floral-themed, the cupcake bouquet class with have you creating cupcake bouquets for centrepieces, sweet tables, gifts and more as you learn how to pipe floral patterns with buttercream.  If you were to take this class and Le Dolci’s Advanced Piping Techniques class where you practice piping roses, pansies, and daffodils, you’d be a whiz at piping flowers and basically creating cupcake floral arrangements!  The first Cupcake Bouquet Making and Arrangement class is set for May 12 from 12pm-2pm and is priced at $80 +HST/person. 

Flowers and cupcakes at Le Dolci on Dundas Street West in Toronto.

:Le Dolci cupcake studio storefront on Dundas Street West in downtown Toronto.

And so concludes the first Cupcake Connection of the spring and summer seasons.  I can’t wait to see what the next several months bring!

A Sweet Month of Pastry, Cupcake, Truffle, Pie and Macaron Classes at Le Dolci!

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Valentine’s Day Chocolate Truffle Making at Le Dolci, February 8.  7pm-9pm.  1006 Dundas Street West.  $80 +HST/person.  What better way to celebrate love and romance than with chocolate?  Create rich, decadent chocolate ganache truffles and dust and sprinkle your way through luxurious truffle heaven using cocoa, coconut, sprinkles, drizzles and more.  Learn how to use proper hand rolling techniques as well as developing your own recipes and flavourings!  http://ledolci.com/class-schedule/

Valentine’s Day Cupcake Decorating at Le Dolci, February 9.  3pm-5pm.  1006 Dundas Street West.  $80 +HST/person.  Get the creative juices and sweet teeth going as you decorate a dozen delicious vanilla cupcakes to take home!  Use fondant, buttercream frosting, stencils, special cutters and professional tools to create glittery hearts, bows, roses and more!  http://ledolci.com/class-schedule/

Valentine’s Day Cookie Decorating Techniques at Le Dolci, February 10.  12pm-2pm.  1006 Dundas Street West.  $80 +HST/person.  At this class, learn how to work with royal icing and master piping and icing techniques including flooding, flocking, and marbleizing!  Decorate sweet sugar cookies with flourishing hearts, cupid wings, roses, flowers, and more. http://ledolci.com/class-schedule/

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Valentine’s Day Afternoon Tea at Le Dolci, February 10.  3:30pm-5:30pm.  1006 Dundas Street West. $35 +HST/person.  It’s pinkies up at this special afternoon tea and sweets session at Le Dolci!  If you love all things dessert and tea, this is for you.  This afternoon tea will include tea sandwiches, scones, tea, and a boundless array of sweets and nibbles!  http://www.ledolci.com/class-schedule/

Mastering Choux Pastry at Le Dolci, February 13.  7pm-9pm.  1006 Dundas Street West.  $80 +HST/person.  Calling all dessert and pastry lovers!  This sweet class tackles the ins and outs of classic pastries such as eclairs, profiteroles, and cream puffs.  Learn about dough making and baking techniques, and how to create fillings and glazes such as chocolate ganache, cream and more.  http://ledolci.com/class-schedule/

Valentine’s Day Cupcake Decorating with Champagne at Le Dolci, February 14.  6:30pm-8:30pm.  1006 Dundas Street West.  $90 +HST/person. Skip the crazy line-ups and hectic atmospheres and head over to Le Dolci for Valentine’s Day cupcake decorating and champagne instead!  Make it a fun one with a friend or a romantic one with your significant other as you pipe, frosting, and sip the evening away!  http://ledolci.com/class-schedule/

PA Day Fun!  Introduction to Cupcake Decorating at Le Dolci, February 15.  1pm-3pm.  1006 Dundas Street West.  $40 +HST/person.  What better way to enjoy a Friday off from school than to get the creative juices and sweet teeth going as you decorate a dozen delicious vanilla cupcakes to take home!  Use fondant, buttercream frosting, and special cutters and professional tools to create flowers, animals, swirls, and whatever your heart desires!  http://ledolci.com/class-schedule/

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Perfect Parisian Macarons at Le Dolci, February 17.  1pm-3pm.  1006 Dundas Street West.  $80 +HST/person.  Join Le Dolci’s team and other sweet tooths in this introductory class to macaron making heaven.  Learn about macaron ingredients, how to properly mix macaron batter, piping techniques, and bake your very own delicate macaron shells along with mouthwatering fillings!  http://ledolci.com/class-schedule/

Family Day Drop in Decorating Afternoon at Le Dolci, February 18.  1pm-5pm.  1006 Dundas Street West.  $10 +HST/person.  TBA.  http://www.ledolci.com/class-schedule/

Perfect Pies at Le Dolci, February 20.  7pm-9pm.  1006 Dundas Street West.  $55 +HST/person.  Don’t be intimidated by the art of the homemade pie and pie crust – Michelle from the Parkdale Pie Princess teams up with Le Dolci to show you how at this introduction to pie making class!  Learn how to make a great pie crust from scratch, use fresh fruit to make filling, and take home a pie and recipes!  http://www.ledolci.com/class-schedule/

Introduction to Cupcake Decorating at Le Dolci, February 23.  10am-12pm.  1006 Dundas Street West.  $80 +HST/person.  Get the creative juices and sweet teeth going as you decorate a dozen delicious vanilla cupcakes to take home!  Use fondant, buttercream frosting, stencils, special cutters and professional tools to create flowers, animals, bows and more!  http://ledolci.com/class-schedule/

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Introduction to Cupcake Decorating at Le Dolci, February 23.  10am-12pm.  1006 Dundas Street West.  $80 +HST/person.  Get the creative juices and sweet teeth going as you decorate a dozen delicious vanilla cupcakes to take home!  Use fondant, buttercream frosting, stencils, special cutters and professional tools to create flowers, animals, bows and more!  http://ledolci.com/class-schedule/

Sugar Flower Artistry at Le Dolci, February 23.  1pm-3pm.  1006 Dundas Street West.  $80 +HST/person.  Break out your inner intricate artist at this special advanced sugar artistry class!  Learn how to work with mediums such as sugar paste to create gorgeous flowers that you can adorn on cupcakes, cakes, and sweet tables.  http://www.ledolci.com/class-schedule/

Designer Cupcake Decorating at Le Dolci, February 24.  3pm-5pm.  1006 Dundas Street West.  $80 +HST/person.  Walk the runway in true fashionable cupcake style!  In this introduction to cupcake decorating class, learn how to make stylish Louis Vuitton and Chanel handbags, Tiffany jewelry, and more with professional cupcake decorating tools, fondant, and frosting.  Be the sweetest, most stylish fashionista when you walk out of the student with 12 beautifully decorated vanilla cupcakes!  http://ledolci.com/class-schedule/

A Month of Holiday & Christmas Cooking & Baking Around the City! Truffles, Cookies, Traditional Treats & More

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Tis the season for the holiday baking, cooking, and edible gift creating!  There are TONS of fun cooking and baking classes going on as well as some holiday themed workshops so whether you love truffles, pie, cupcakes, or a mix of holiday sweets, there’s definitely something for you here!  My personal picks?  The holiday cookie classes at Aphrodite Cooks and Evergreen Brick Works, the regional and seasonal Niagara-inspired cooking class at EBW, pie-making at Le Dolci, and the Christmas treats baking at Nella Cucina.

I won’t be able to attend any of these but if I could I’d be ALL OVER these like ribbon on wrapping paper.  I’m still plowing away at updating the December Food Calendar so you’ll see some new stuff from The Depanneur and others added to the calendar really soon!  In the meantime, click around the menu bar up top and check out the December Food Calendar, the tastings and classes at Evergreen Brick Works, and all of Le Dolci’s fabulous holiday and Christmas-themed classes!  Oh, and admire the new Christmas photos I took at La Merceria.  Just try not to drool over all the drop-dead gorgeous kitchen accessories and linens.  I know I am.

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Simple Healthy Meals in 30 Minutes at The Chef Upstairs, December 3.  6:30pm-9:30pm.  615 Mount Pleasant Rd.  $99 +HST/person OR $149.50 +HST for two.  Combine fresh and seasonal with fast and quick with these recipes: winter green salad with pine nuts, radicchio, and pear, penne pasta with sausage, fennel, and Pecorino cheese, and fresh fish with tomato sauce with cherry tomato couscous!  http://www.thechefupstairs.com/cooking_classes.html

Introduction to Pie Making at Le Dolci, December 5.  7pm-9pm.  1006 Dundas Street West.  $55 +HST/person.  Don’t be intimidated by the art of the homemade pie and pie crust – Michelle from the Parkdale Pie Princess teams up with Le Dolci to show you how at this introduction to pie making class!  Learn how to make the a great pie crust from scratch, use fresh fruit to make filling, and take home a pie and recipes!  http://www.ledolci.com/class-schedule/

PA Day Fun!  Introduction to Cupcake Decorating at Le Dolci, December 7.  1pm-3pm.  1006 Dundas Street West.  $40 +HST/person.  What better way to enjoy a Friday off from school than to get the creative juices and sweet teeth going as you decorate a dozen delicious vanilla cupcakes to take home!  Use fondant, buttercream frosting, and special cutters and professional tools to create flowers, animals, swirls, and whatever your heart desires!  It’s December, so go for a winter, Christmas or holiday theme with snowflakes, snowmen, candy canes, holly, trees, gingerbread men and more!  http://www.ledolci.com/class-schedule/

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Christmas/Winter Themed – Introduction to Cupcake Decorating at Le Dolci, December 8.  10am-12pm.  1006 Dundas Street West.  $80 +HST/person.  Get the creative juices and sweet teeth going as you decorate a dozen delicious vanilla cupcakes to take home!  Use fondant, buttercream frosting, and special cutters and professional tools to create wreaths, stockings, snowmen, snowflakes, present gift boxes and more!  http://www.ledolci.com/class-schedule/

Designer Cupcake Decorating at Le Dolci, December 8.  2pm-4pm.  1006 Dundas Street West.  $80 +HST/person.  Walk the runway in true fashionable cupcake style!  In this introduction to cupcake decorating class, learn how to make stylish Louis Vuitton and Chanel handbags, Tiffany jewelry, and more with professional cupcake decorating tools, fondant, and frosting.  Be the sweetest, most stylish fashionista when you walk out of the student with 12 beautifully decorated vanilla cupcakes!  http://ledolci.com/class-schedule/

Christmas Themed – Learn to Make Cake Pops at Le Dolci, December 9.  2pm-4pm.  1006 Dundas Street West.  $80 +HST/person.  Use moist, delicious balls of cake and frosting to make holiday inspired cake pops using melted candy melts, sprinkles, icing, and more!  Sprinkle snowflakes and trees and even make reindeer, ornaments, and Christmas tree cake pops!  http://www.ledolci.com/class-schedule/

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Holiday Cookies at Aphrodite Cooks, December 9.  1pm-4pm. 201 Weston Rd., Suite 101.  $65 +HST/person.  This class requires participants to bring piping tips and couplers (Wilton’s #2, #4, or #6 tips and two couplers) which are available at Michaels, Bulk Barn, Wal-Mart, and baking supply stores.  Aphrodite Cooking classes mix both pleasure and education as classes provide participants with an atmosphere to socialize and mingle with others while at the same time enjoying food and obtaining and sharpening cooking skills.

At this class, join Canadian Living test kitchen manager, Adell Shneer, as she guides you through a wintery fairy wonderland of beautiful and delicious holiday cookies and decorating!  Learn how to make royal icing and master piping and icing techniques including flooding, flocking, marbleizing as you make brown sugar citrus cookie dough, double vanilla cookie dough, and gingerbread cookie dough for beautiful cookies!  https://www.aphroditecooks.com/class.aspx?c_id=c6add328-06cf-48aa-ab6b-8400f1eac6f2

GE Café Chefs Series: Celebrating Niagara at Evergreen Brick Works, December 11.  6pm-9pm.  550 Bayview Ave.  $75 each workshop.  Learn tips and techniques from local Toronto and Ontario chefs, discuss and explore food issues over wine and a great meal with other participants!  Funds raised through the series will help support children’s educational food programs at Evergreen Brick Works.

This fall series focuses on the food culture of southern Ontario.  Join executive chef of Hillebrand Estates’ winery restaurant, Frank Dodd, for an exploration of the bounty of fruit, food, and wine in the beautiful Niagara region.  http://ebw.evergreen.ca/whats-on/food/chefs-series#dec11

Green Bites Cooking Workshops – Holiday Baking at Evergreen Brick Works, December 13.  7pm-9pm.  550 Bayview Ave.  $65/person.  Green Bites workshops are back for another exciting round of seasonal classes!  Join chefs, producers, farmers, and food experts for some hands-on cooking workshops that are sure to expand your breadth of food knowledge and technique.  These cooking workshops will allow participants to explore tastes, flavours, and aromas while engaging in food issues that affect communities.

At this workshop, join chef Joshna Maharaj for holiday baking around the world!  Explore holiday baking traditions, bake 5 different types of cookies, and take home a cookie gift box at the end!  http://ebw.evergreen.ca/whats-on/food/green-bites#dec13

Christmas Treats at Nella Cucina, December 15.  12pm-3pm.  876 Bathurst St.  $95/person.  Get your holiday sweet teeth ready for this sugar n’ spice and everything nice cooking class where you’ll bake the afternoon away!  Learn a wealth of baking and candy making techniques and knowledge as you tackle some classic holiday recipes such as salted caramels, fruit jellies, rum sour cream pound cake, spiced nuts and seeds, and chocolate cranberry and pistachio biscotti!  http://www.nellacucina.ca/component/jevents/icalrepeat.detail/2012/11/29/249/-/-.html

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Gingerbread Decorating at Le Dolci, December 15.  1:30pm-3:30pm.  1006 Dundas Street West.  $40 +HST/person.  Break out the icing, candies, and chocolates for some holiday inspired gingerbread cookie decorating!  Learn piping techniques to create yummy cookies to take home for yourself or to give as gifts!  http://www.ledolci.com/class-schedule/

Christmas/Winter Themed – Introduction to Cupcake Decorating at Le Dolci, December 15.  4:30pm-6:30pm.  1006 Dundas Street West.  $80 +HST/person.  Get the creative juices and sweet teeth going as you decorate a dozen delicious vanilla cupcakes to take home!  Use fondant, buttercream frosting, and special cutters and professional tools to create wreaths, stockings, snowmen, snowflakes, present gift boxes and more!  http://www.ledolci.com/class-schedule/

Christmas/Winter Themed – Introduction to Cupcake Decorating at Le Dolci, December 16.  10:30am-12:30pm.  1006 Dundas Street West.  $80 +HST/person.  Get the creative juices and sweet teeth going as you decorate a dozen delicious vanilla cupcakes to take home!  Use fondant, buttercream frosting, and special cutters and professional tools to create wreaths, stockings, snowmen, snowflakes, present gift boxes and more!  http://www.ledolci.com/class-schedule/

Christmas Themed – Introduction to Truffle Making at Le Dolci, December 16.  2pm-4pm.  1006 Dundas Street West.  $80 +HST/person.  Create rich, decadent chocolate ganache truffles and dust and sprinkle your way through luxurious truffle heaven with Christmas sprinkles and holiday flavours!  Learn how to use proper hand rolling techniques as well as developing your own recipes and flavourings!  Create a set of truffles to take home for yourself or to give  as a gift.  http://www.ledolci.com/class-schedule/

Adorable Tea Cups, Dishes, & Saucers and Enough Tea Sandwiches & Sweets to Last a Week! Afternoon Tea at Le Dolci!

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I always knew I enjoyed tea (I thank all those weekend dim sum brunch meals growing up for that!), but I never thought I’d love it and engage with it as much as I do now.  I drink tea every morning when I come into work (it’s such a delight rotating between my current 5 loose leaf packets from Steeped & Infused), I keep up with seasonal flavours, I read tea books, I love marrying cupcakes with a cup of hot tea, and I am absolutely amoured by tea time and afternoon teas!  The atmosphere, the food, the beautiful accessories, porcelain and china; the dining experience it affords is in a league of it own.  My dream would be to attend every imaginable afternoon tea in the land – I would be so happy!  I think my obsession with tea is definitely nearing its peak and I really don’t see it waning any time soon.

So I indulged my warm and fuzzy feelings for afternoon tea with a special Sunday afternoon tea at Le Dolci’s sweet studio!  Soft music floating in the background, adorable tea cups, saucers, and dishes, and over 5 different types of decadent desserts among other delectable eats - afternoon tea at Le Dolci is as sweet as it gets!  I was so, so excited when I found out Lisa and the team would be doing afternoon tea sessions at their new studio on Dundas West back in August.  I knew the experience would be really fun, different, and yummy, but I also knew that this was something really personal and special to Lisa.  After living and working in the UK for a decade, the tea bug is bound to bite you one way or another if you haven’t been bitten already!  Lisa, Miya, and I used to drink tea together all the time when I was interning at the studio and we’d always Ooo and ahh over sweet accessories we would find.  Aside from cupcakes and sweets, tea was a common love and it just made everything that much more mellow and relaxed when we took that time to savour it and enjoy it.

I was so excited to see what Lisa would have in store for this tea session.  Afternoon teas, held on Sundays (keep in mind that afternoon teas aren’t held every Sunday at this point though, they just happen to fall on Sundays when they are made available on the class schedule as opposed to Fridays or Saturdays for instance) from 12pm – 2pm, are non-instructional sessions that are open to anyone and everyone with a love for sweets and tea!  Non-instructional simply means that the afternoon tea is purely a “come in and stuff your face while having a lot of fun!” type of session.  There’s no workshop or seminar, no demo or crafting of anything ; it’s just pure enjoyment of food and drink.

Teas are priced at $35/person and spaces must be booked in advance, either by phone or through their website via the class schedule.  Now, I had a brain fart when I first booked my spot because I mixed myself up and thought the entire tea took 2 hours, but the 12pm-2pm tea time is completely flexible!  So long as you’ve booked your spot you’re welcome to start your tea at 12:30pm, 1pm, whatever floats your boat (within reason – obviously if you show up at a quarter to two, that’s not going to fly!) and subsequently, you can finish up any time within those 2 hours.  You simply need to book your spot in advance so Lisa and her team can plan out their tea menu and know exactly how much food to make so nothing goes to waste and so they can make sure everything is ready to go the morning of for the freshest baked goods and eats.

Beautiful sunlight streamed through the studio’s front display window and the big, long, stainless steel worktable was decked out in a white tablecloth with tea cups and saucers, milk and sugar, and small dishes to enjoy our nibbles!  The dishes and accessories were so darn gorgeous.  Enjoying the food on such pretty tableware was half the fun!  Some of these dishes were special antiques and works of art from the UK (that dish featured in the first photo?  Hand-painted!), while others were just nifty pick-ups around town.  The crazy tea accessory lover in me was lapping all this up like an eager puppy!

Okay, so what does afternoon tea at Le Dolci entail?  Hot loose leaf tea from Tealish (4 flavours on hand including Sweetie Pie, Earl Grey Classic, Sencha Organic green tea, and Peppermint!), 4 different kinds of tea sandwiches on multi-grain bread with the crusts cut off (but of course!), and literally enough sweets and baked goods to last you an entire week - no joke!  The awesome thing about the tea specifically is that you can try different kinds!  Lisa will brew a pot of whatever flavour you want at first, but if you decide that you want to try a different one middway through, she can brew another one.  Granted, I wouldn’t start asking for all 4 flavours, but it’s fine if you want to sip on another one later on in the tea.

Another thing I really loved was the sheer volume of food!  All afternoon teas are based on a per person count, but holy bejeebus, after my boyfriend and I polished off our sandwich plate with 8 portions, Lisa came by and plopped another plate of 4 in front of us!  That’s 6 sandwiches in total, 3 per person (each portion is half a sandwich).  I don’t know about you, but I have never eaten 3 sandwiches plus sweets plus a bajillion cups of tea.  I knew there would be leftovers (gut intuition) so I came prepared and brought tupperware.  It came in handy!  That day, we were given an assortment of roast beef with mustard, smoked salmon, ham, and a fantastic egg salad with crunchy green onions!  You all know I love smoked salmon to pieces, but I have to say, I loved the ham and egg salad ones a lot too!  So simple yet so good.

And the sweets.  Oh, the sweets.  Full-size frosted cupcakes (vanilla with coffee frosting and chocolate with vanilla frosting), mini cupcakes (vanilla and coffee), biscotti, little scones (cheddar and dried fruit ones), brownie squares, lemon coconut squares, macarons (coconut and strawberry), and lamingtons, an Australian and New Zealand dessert made of sponge cake and coated in chocolate and rolled in shredded coconut!  Did you get all that?!  It was such a great varied assortment and there were so many different things to try!  I loved the variety and if I had to choose, my favourites would have to be the lemon coconut squares, the cupcakes with coffee frosting, and the macarons!

It was a really fun, sweet afternoon tea and I’m so happy Lisa decided to have it as part of her fun foodie line-up.  I genuinely enjoyed all the food we were given and it’s just nice being in the studio surrounded by yummy smells and great people.  I am no doubt coming back for more – the leftovers are just the icing on the cake!

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Le Dolci brand new studio is located at 1006 Dundas Street West, right at the corner of Dundas West and Montrose Ave. The studio is across the street from Trinity Bellwoods Park and are open for business 6 days a week.  Operating hours are from 10am-6pm from Tuesday to Saturday and 12pm-5pm on Sundays.

A Year in Review – New Classes & Studio, New Sweets, & Memories of Being an Icing Sugar Queen at Le Dolci!

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I don’t think any of us ever need a reason or a celebration to have cupcakes or cake; they are morsels of happiness in and of themselves!  But there is a special sort of anniversary I’m commemorating with these two sweet and decadent posts!  It all began with a cupcake studio, baking pans upon pans of vanilla and chocolate cupcakes, tinting mounds of yummy vanilla frosting in sweet pastels, and working with fondant for the very first time.  The trek to the old studio on King West and Portland, the smell of warm sugar, and the sounds of the oven timer chiming and the Kitchenaid mixer whirring at full speed.  I remember it like it was yesterday: my very first day as an icing sugar queen at Le Dolci! 

It has already been a year since that fateful first day of cupcake baking and frosting making with Lisa and Miya and so much has changed within that time including the introduction of new classes to the lineup and a brand spankin’ new studio across the street from Trinity Bellwoods Park!  I have so many fond memories and I took away so much from my time at the studio with Lisa and the other girls.  I learned how to make cake pops, I learned how to work with fondant, I watched Lisa grow her business from the ground up, and I celebrated Le Dolci’s first Christmas and Valentine’s Day among many other special milestones.  Can you believe that it’s already been a year?  It’s crazy!  Even though it’s been months since my days as Le Dolci icing sugar queen, it holds a special part of my sweet tooth and heart and I love being in the loop and staying up-to-date on all the yummy news.

Along with the retail cupcake space selling accessories and freshly baked cupcakes with a selection of new flavours (lemon, salted caramel, and coffee in addition to the classic Sicilian vanilla and chocoalte cocoa), Lisa and the Le Dolci team have launched a whole rotating menu of sweets available every day including Augie’s gourmet ice pops, and in-house crafted butter tarts, biscotti, eclairs, macarons, cannoli, and more!  And if that’s not enough squee, Lisa has also added a slew of new foodie classes and events to Le Dolci’s offerings!   

Le Dolci has joined forces with Rosewood Estates for wine and cupcakes, and wine, honey, and cheese tastingsLisa Kates (aka. A Food Gypsy) for drop-in soup evenings for soup, fresh bread, and sweets; traditional afternoon tea with sweets, savoury nibbles, and plenty of tea and adorable accessories; Chef Ramza for Lebanese cooking (tabbouleh, fattoush, makloubit chicken and rice and more!); Heather from Knead Bakery for bread and croissant making classes; and pie-making with the Parkdale Pie Princess!  Oh, and did I mention that Le Dolci is hosting their 2nd foodie trip in 2013, this time in San Francisco and Napa Valley, California?!  Sigh.  If only I could attend everything.

Here is Le Dolci’s October line-up of classes and yummies to look forward to!

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