Trick or Sweet? The finest, flakiest, gooiest and grandest treats to eat in T.O. right now.
1. From Bar Isabel to bonbons: Chocolatier Brandon Olsen on opening his shop CXBO
When did you first learn to make chocolates?
I was introduced to the world of bonbons at the French Laundry back in 2005 and was instantaneously hooked! I haven’t had any formal training. Everything I know is self-taught.
What’s your favourite Halloween memory?
As a kid I won the “best costume” award with my twin brother at a contest in a local mall. We dressed up as Chip and Dale. My mom made the costumes complete with papier mâché masks. They were amazing.
What inspired you to open CXBO?
I left Bar Isabel as chef de cuisine to open my own restaurant but couldn’t find the right space, so I opened CXBO instead. CXBO was always meant to start in the restaurant then branch off, but it came first instead. CXBO, 1132 College St.
2. PB and Nutella
The croissant-doughnut hybrid known as the cronut is no longer trending worldwide, but we couldn’t care less — especially when both peanut butter and Nutella are involved. This “kronut” variation of the dessert is flaky and delicious. Bakery & Kaffee Haus, 1921 Yonge St.
3. Tea time
This matcha croissant, baked with a combination of European and Asian techniques, is infused with green tea flavour (and so is the sweet cream in the middle). It’s the perfect combo of soft and flaky on the outside and creamy and delicious on the inside. Bake Code, 4910 Yonge St.
4. Oh lolli–lolli
Papabubble’s multicoloured, fruit-flavoured lollipops are made in-house and can be inscribed with a custom message as you watch. Try the rainbow swirl, and trust us, the picture does not do it justice. This pop is bigger than your hand. Papabubble, 3360 Yonge St.
5. A work of fine art
Auberge du Pommier’s pomelo and poppyseed gateau is a finely wrought work of art. A multi-layered slice of peach- and pomelo-inflected cake is accompanied by hibiscus sorbet, dried rose petals, a sprinkle of poppyseed and a tea crumble for crunch. Find it on the menu as gâteau au pavot et pomelo. Auberge du Pommier, 4150 Yonge St.
6. Cotton candy for adults
If you like your coffee sweet — or if you want a bit of novelty — Initium’s baristas will set a cloud of freshly spun cotton candy atop your latte in flavours such as grape, vanilla or blue raspberry. Initium, 8241 Woodbine Ave., #6-7
7. Cream dream
This go-to dessert is the beze, a sandwich-esque creation with two pieces of light meringue and whipped cream in between. Sweet-o-one, 50 Doncaster Ave., #5
8. Soft as velvet
These cookie sammies have an ardent following. Two scratch-made red velvet cookies with white chocolate chunks encase a generous layer of cream cheese icing. Short and Sweet, 1945 Avenue Rd.
9. Bearing fruit
This dessert is every bit as decadent as you’d expect from a restaurant with Michelin-star pedigree. A frozen grapefruit shell is stuffed with sorbet, Turkish delight and chunks of fresh grapefruit before it’s blowtorched. Cafe Boulud, 60 Yorkville Ave.
10. Them apples
Is it possible to improve the classic candy apple? When it’s coated in strawberry and chocolate and rolled in shortbread cookie crumbs, we’re going with yes. The Golden Apple Confectionery, 171 East Liberty St., #142
11. Stick around
The best way to sample Cutie Pie’s assortment of mini whoopie pies, also known as cakewiches, is to get three on a stick. Because everything is better on a stick. Cutie Pie Cupcakes & Co., 235 Spadina Ave., #2
12. Paleta power
Sweet Jesus draws lineups for its over-the-top soft serve ice cream, but we prefer the Mexican-style Popsicles. The chocolate peanut butter is our fave. Sweet Jesus, 130 Eglinton Ave. E.
13. Towering above
The kinakozuki parfait is a combo of green tea ice cream, cereal and pecans enveloped by a seaweed-and-egg waffle. It’s as Instagram-worthy as it is tasty. Woofles & Cream, 8360 Kennedy Rd., #81
14. Perfect pastry
The intricately layered mille feuille is a gem of classic French desserts, and Amadeus makes one of the best in the GTA. Amadeus, 7380 Bathurst St.
15. On a roll
Thai ice cream rolls are popping up all over Toronto. We love Frosty Roll’s Go Go Mango flavour, which includes chunks of mango and a cookie topping. Frosty Roll, 280 Augusta Ave.
16. Berry-go round
Few pastries pair better with a latte than this raspberry swirl danish, which is filled with house-made raspberry jam and almond cream. Butter Avenue, 3467 Yonge St.
17. Eclair affair
These handcrafted eclairs fuse together French tradition with contemporary flavours. Pictured is the mango passion fruit and Persian pistachio. Nugateau, 717 Queen St. W.
18. Island treat
Feeling blue? The Blue Hawaii cupcake — coconut cake, blue vanilla buttercream and coconut topping — is sure to appease. Cupcakes at Leaside, 85 Laird Dr.
19. Better than butter
At this uptown seafood spot, butter tarts are taken to the next level with a deep-dish version that sells out regularly. Be sure to go early. Smoked & Cracked, 516 Mt. Pleasant Rd.
20. A nostalgic nosh
Zip back to the early 2000s with this favourite after-school snack — except this Pop-Tart is homemade and filled with a blackberry, plum and violet jam. Bake Shoppe, 859 College St.
21. Pecan perfection
This turtle tart takes two days to make and includes milk chocolate mousse, salted caramel, candied pecans and rum-soaked chocolate sponge cake in an almond tart. Roselle, 362 King St. E.
22. Mallow out
These handmade puffs are available in flavours such as raspberry, chocolate and passion fruit and are best in a cup of hot chocolate. Want the recipe? The Bobbette & Belle team is releasing a new
cookbook on Oct. 4. Bobbette & Belle, 3347 Yonge St.
23. Phyllo up
Chef Noureen Feerasta’s must-try “crispy milk” dessert sees cardamom-tinged milk encased with phyllo pastry and fried until crispy. Topped with almond shavings and dehydrated rose petals, it’s surely a dessert like none other you’ve tasted before. Rickshaw Bar, 685 Queen St. W.
24. Shake it
It was only a matter of time before Toronto’s go-big-or-go-home ice cream philosophy made its way to milkshakes. The D.R.E.A.M. is a gluttonous vanilla shake with chocolate chips garnished with sprinkles, a scoop of ice cream and two sugar doughnuts. Peace Treats, 131 Ossington Ave.
25. Sweet solace
Be sure to get these beignets early on Fridays or Saturdays, when they’re still warm from the fryer. Made from scratch and dusted with cinnamon sugar and icing sugar. Charmaine Sweets, 115 Vanderhoof Ave.
26. Purple rain
Purple yam is transformed into vibrant (and delicious) ice cream and waffles. It comes with shredded coconut and Stik-O wafers, a popular Filipino snack. Platito Filipino Soul Food, 35 Baldwin St.
This Taiwanese-Japanese eatery covers toast in coconut custard, roasts it, tops it with marshmallows and roasts it again until it’s golden-brown and gooey-good. Petit Potato, 10 Ravel Rd., #1-2
28. Take the cake
This dulce de leche cheesecake has caramel mixed into it and is topped with more caramel for a flavour-packed double whammy. Phipps Desserts, 1875 Leslie St., #21
29. Nuts about you
Diwan’s Middle Eastern menu includes a lavish walnut-and-pistachio phyllo pastry layered with butter and cinnamon and rolled into cigar-shaped bites. They are baked and then drizzled with lavender blossom syrup and served with a spot of fig gelato. Diwan, 77 Wynford Dr.
30. Mean macarons
Former MasterChef Canada participant Christopher Siu (who goes by the name Baker Siu) is a pharmacist by day and a baker by night. He’s known for blending French techniques with Asian flavours such as yuzu and mandarin peel. This month, he’s creating three Halloween-inspired macarons: a black cat, a jack-o’-lantern and a ghost (in flavours of blackcurrant, pumpkin spice and caramel, respectively). Find them at Bake Code, the east-side Baker’s Market or order them from Daan Go, his online shop.
31. Grown-up treats: Chocolatier David Chow makes chocolate into art
You only use Valrhona chocolate. why is that?
I love that their chocolate are always complex with just the right balance of bitterness and fruitness. Their huge range of dark chocolates are my favourite for snacking out of hand.
How do you paint the bars?
I use edible coloured cocoa butters that I blend to create the colours I want. Decorating the chocolates can go from hand painting with brushes to high-tech air guns and compressors.
Where do you sell your chocolates?
Schmaltz Appetizing, Drake properties, Pusateri’s and Stasis Preserves, to name a few.
Best Halloween candy?
Skor was probably my favourite.