Dlish cupcakes, the new West Queen West bakery dedicated solely to the creation of the ubiquitous, individually-sized treat, is offering up these ever-loved confections with a striking amount of care and detail. Sourcing high quality ingredients and using simple, preservative and trans-fat free recipes, the proof is truly in the pudding... or rather, the cupcake.
With 16 different flavours available, rotating any 9 on a given day, there is plenty to choose from, and none disappoint. Look for classics like good old vanilla on vanilla, as well as the less traditional, like dulce de leche or cookies & cream. Dlish offers a fair-trade brewed coffee, but welcomes those passing by, outside-purchased coffee in hand, to come in and enjoy a cupcake in the window seat without so much as a sideways glance.
Owner Verge Manuel, baker and true cupcake enthusiast, explains that the concept of Dlish is to give the cupcake the kind of exalted status it enjoys in other major cities like L.A., New York and Chicago. Manuel saw a hole in the area's baking options, and ventured to bring what he refers to as an 'affordable indulgence' to one of Toronto's trendiest neighborhoods.
An avid baker myself, I was happy that Manuel offers all kinds of interesting tidbits that help give his cupcakes their lovely moistness and excellent flavour. He recommends the coconut macaroon cupcake, a coconut cake base with almond frosting, sprinkled with toasted coconut and melted chocolate, which is immediately my favourite. When I inquire about what gives the cake such pure coconut flavour, he reveals that he actually uses coconut milk in the cake batter rather than dairy, a tip I immediately put in my back pocket.
While devouring one of the best red velvet cupcakes I've had in a long time, my friend makes an interesting observation; these little cakes, though rich in flavour and slathered with silky smooth icing, are not overly sweet, a factor the baker attributes to the use of butter rather than a trans-fat. Butter rather than a generic fat like lard or oil means more flavour; more flavour from the butter means less need for additional sugar to compensate for blandness.
Manuel and his assistants come in early each day, and he explains that making only cupcakes allows for extra attention and detail to go into that specific creation as it's the only thing they offer. There's time to make the batter and frosting fresh each morning, and not rush past important steps like allowing the ingredients to sit until they're at room temperature so that the concoction comes together just right, creating a better product and making small batches with careful attention to quality.
Though the red velvet and coconut strike a specific cord with me, every cake we try, from the nutella or salty caramel to the simple vanilla, is expertly prepared and a pleasure to eat. Little details like the colour-coded garnishes referring to a menu card that explains each item make the experience all the more special. Whether it's to pick up a gift-wrapped treat for a friend or event, or just to get a quick fix to go with a coffee, this is one bakery not to walk by.
Cupcakes $3 each, $17 for a half dozen and $33 for a dozen.
Writing by Meaghan Binstock. Photos by Taralyn Marshall