New Vegan Baker, Fresh From Toronto

So Neil and I went to the new Preston St. farmer’s market last weekend. It’s a very little affair – maybe 12 or so vendors. Mostly veggies. Joel’s coffee (not organic, but Fair Trade and good – and the vendor gives samples, just like with wine!). Moksha Yoga was there too, looking vaguely out of place as they did upward dogs and sun salutations, but good on them anyway.

Jacqui O at Lansdowne Farmer's Market

What we were quite shocked to find at the market, however, was a new vegan bakery. It’s called “Jacqui O’s Sweet Temptations,” and it offers a variety of cupcakes, muffins, and cookies, as well as baklava, brownies, focaccia and sticky buns. I’d say at least half of its offerings were gluten free, and some were sugar free as well.

In the interest of doing a thorough review, I bought several items: sticky bun, brownie, cupcake, baklava and a cookie.

My expectations were pretty high. As a holder of many university degrees of varying usefulness, I get excited by credentials and Jacqui was trained at the George Brown Culinary Institute.

I can, in general, say that I was pretty impressed. The chocolate peanut butter pillow cookie represented the best execution of that recipe I’ve tasted so far (except for Neil’s, but I suspect I’m biased). The cinnamon buns were GOOD. I’ve never had a vegan cinnamon bun that was good before. Other than mine, but again I’m probably biased. And in fairness I’ve never tried either Pamela’s or Auntie Loo’s.

The lime-coconut cupcake was also the best execution of a citrus-based cupcake that I’ve had. Aw crap, except for my orange one, of course. And her frosting is actually better than Aunti Loo’s and Thimble Cakes’. Very lime-y without being runny – how’d she do it?

The baklava, which I bought based on raves from Jacqui’s other customers, was really good too. But honestly I think all baklava tastes the same.

I wasn’t wildly impressed by the brownie at first. The texture was good but it was a little on the bland side. It lacked the rich fabulousness of  – dare I say it? – “The World’s Best Fudge Brownie.” It grew on me as time went on however. Largely, I think, because the ganache topping tastes like Smartie chocolate. Yes, that’s right. The chocolate inside of those little candies that vegans can’t eat. Once I ate all that off the top, I was in a fine mood and the bottom somehow just seemed tastier.

Anyway, she’s on Preston St. on Saturdays, Lansdowne on Sundays. Check her out there and visit her facebook page. It looks like she does way more than what she sells at the farmer’s markets, and from the looks of the pictures, the other stuff is amazing!

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