Aster's Refined Cakes
Aster's Refined Cakes makes custom full and individual-sized cakes, as well as macarons, cheesecake and brownies on sticks and cake pops.
The cake business existed on Instagram for about two and a half years, building a following online for the beautiful mousse cakes by a 27-year-old self-taught baker, before its physical storefront opened in Etobicoke.
Maria Lymarenko used to work as a quality engineer for Bader Ukraine, a company that sews leather seats for BMW, Audi and Mercedes, but had a hard time finding similar work after relocating to Toronto four years ago with her partner.
Lymarenko tried making her very first celestial-themed mirror glaze cake for her friends after a year living in Toronto, and they liked it so much they bought her a KitchenAid mixer.
The cake designer who learned everything she knows from Youtube videos and a few cake courses has gone from whipping up countless creations in her own apartment to a kitchen in the back of the shop. There are 10 flavours to choose from when it comes to Lymarenko's mousse cakes including pistachio and sour cherry, Baileys, caramel latte and blackcurrant lemon, and they range in cost from $30 (2-4 servings) to $165 (20-25 servings).
Each one includes a component of mousse and sponge cake and sits in the freezer for hours to fully solidify. A glaze made with chocolate, condensed milk and simple syrup pours over to give it a glossy finish.
Shape and colour are customized per order and extra-special add-ons like berries, macarons and printed photos on sugar paper are an extra charge.
If you don't have time to place a pre-order or aren't picky on the customizations, 7" round cakes ($45 to $65 for 8-10 servings) are also available in-store every day in each of the flavours.
Small, individual versions of the cakes ($7.50) come just as beautiful and are a great option for those who don't want to commit to a full cake without giving it a try.
A few of the options include a pink rose with mascarpone-white chocolate mousse and a blueberry coulis inside and a glossy red heart filled with strawberry coulis and vanilla mousse.
Not a personal fan of sickly-sweet desserts, Lymarenko doesn't add fondant or sugar paste to her cakes and desserts. The natural fruits and premium chocolate give more than enough sweetness on their own.
Exotic passion is easily Lymarenko's best-seller. The coconut sponge cake has strawberry and mango-passion fruit coulis, white chocolate-coconut mousse and a crunchy bottom layer.
Even more flavours like carrot, mocha, strawberry-yogurt and coconut-almond Raffaello are available when it comes to the rectangle mousse cakes covered in chocolate ($5).
Cake pops ($2.50) come in either birthday cake, chocolate raspberry and chocolate hazelnut and sit beside fresh-made mango, vanilla, pistachio and milk chocolate cherry macarons ($2.95) in the display case.
There are also hazelnut and cream caramel pecan brownies ($5.50) offering an extremely rich and decadent chocolate experience on the end of a stick.
Espressos, americanos, cappuccinos and lattes are available to order.
Lymarenko tells me Aster's was named after the vibrant wildflower, it's extremely popular in Ukraine and always blooming in the garden at her grandmother's house.