When the concept of carpooling crossed my mind, I was eager to propose it to my potential co-commuter. It was received with some hesitation at first, but we discussed quickly to narrow down plausible logistics.
Slipping by the party of eco bag-carrying street civilians, into the only McDonald's in the two-kilometre radius, a Cranberry Orange Muffin was secured.
I had the option of continuing west on Blythwood then retracing my steps along Yonge, but took to the calmer, single driveway neighbourhood on Mt Pleasant instead.
The stars seemed to align when my carpooling partner informed an unexpected lateness. I jumped at the opportunity and hopped on Line 1 towards Finch.
The interior was packed and reeked of grease, despite typically oily foods not having a place on the menu.
Within the display case was a limited selection of baked goods - items exhibiting lifeless, day-old appearances. Gazing at the menu above the drink preparation counter, I attempted to locate a beverage to suit my mood; there wasn't one. The café's signature latte art was reserved for dine-in visits only, and the steep price of points of Blue Matcha, Hojicha, and the standard array of espresso-based beverages simply couldn't be justified.
Lured by its vivid orange storefront, I popped into Nu Bagel. Single bagels were a hefty two dollars each, while those with spreads even higher. Discounts did not apply to purchases of twelve bagels or less, for a half-dozen rang in at the linearly proportional rate of $12. A dozen bagels would set me back $18, and would include a freezer bag and two additional bonus bagels. The shop's variety was quite scarce though, so I merely took to three singles (Rosemary, Coconut, and Multigrain) and a Pumpernickel with Dill Cream Cheese to go.
Upon unveiling the $6.50 purchase later, I found Dill Cream Cheese to ooze from every corner - a ridiculously generous amount had been spread between the two charcoal-toned rounds. It was a delightfully herby formula, however too rich and too satiating for my needs. Following its consumption, my stomach was rendered queasy for the remainder of the day.
But baking at the low temperature of 320 F was insufficient for cookies of such size. While the edges were crunchy, the core was tender - an inevitable turnout despite my delayed attempts at raising the oven temperature to 340 F.
Amusingly enough, I would not be employing matcha in this project. The components were varied and my last jar of matcha had expired. Instead, I ripped open my new bag of Paragon Genmaicha, acquired from my Vancouver travels earlier this year.
Instead of one 12 cm diameter cake, I used a smaller ring mold, allowing me to achieve a total of six sponge rounds. Undeniable is the significance in removing sheet cakes from their parchment backing once chilled. From prior experiences, cake sheets that are left to cool while affixed to their parchment backing emerge friable and crumbly - in other words, tragic for use in layered cakes.
- Mulled Wine was my first pick from the box: it was silky, and embodied the very essence of the Toronto Christmas Market in a truffle!
- Speculoos boasted an impressive potency - a complexity unlike any other seasonal treat I've tasted bearing the spice-laced description.
- Peppermint Oreo was pleasantly pepperminty, but too sweet in its white chocolate shell. Housemade Oreo cookie crumbles offered a nice textural component that was indeed reminiscent of the Hershey's Cookies 'N' Creme bar the creators had paid homage towards.
- Rum & Chestnut incorporated classic Christmas flavours into a bite-sized, cocoa-dusted sphere. Often are truffles rolled in cocoa powder soft to taste, but this one was encased a rigid dark chocolate shell, inducing an element of surprise. That said, the specimen found itself towards the middle of my ranking list - neither in the top nor the bottom.
- Rosemary Caramel was a fantastic combination of herbiness and sophistication; the aromatics were unlike that of roasted lamb chops, slotting itself in a distinct league of its own. The contrast of a dark chocolate shell and sweet caramel was fabulous.
- Coffee Baileys was quick to earn its title of a fan favourite, though the milkiness of this variation was not quite to my liking. Creamy as it was, the combination was too sugary, especially utilizing a milk chocolate shell.