In the season of icy sidewalks and soggy grey skies, there exist only two things which can instantly lift the winter damper from my frostbitten spirits: the prospect of a movie marathon in bed, and a good ol’ fashioned bakery snack. Cakes, puff pastries, cinnamon rolls and pies; I spend much of the year answering to the beckonings of zucchini and tofu blocks, but when the winter blues hit you as hard as they’ve been hitting me, I’d say it’s time to ditch the sprouts and reinvigorate yourself with a pastry or three.
Luckily, the Danforth community is full of bakeries, all of which offer delightful treats at friendly prices. Hansen’s Danish Pastry Shop is such a place—located at 1017 Pape Avenue, just north of Centennial College’s Story Arts Centre, it carries an astoundingly wide selection of baked treats. As this winter has felt particularly dispiriting, I decided to remind myself that there’s still good in this world by indulging in five of Hansen’s treats. Whether you’ve decided to grin and bear the frigid temperatures with or without the aid of dessert, I invite you to give these treats a try. The weather outside may be miserable, but that doesn’t mean our stomachs have to be.
I find custard tarts to be a hybrid of sorts—not only do you get the flakey, buttery shell of a pastry, you’re also treated to a golden, pudding-like centre star. This particular tart pulls together precisely both of those aspects in a way that is sweet, but not overpoweringly so. The custard is soft with a hint of an eggy aftertaste, reminding me all at once of Christmas, Easter, and a summer’s day spent strolling through the streets of Chinatown.
Pair it with: a boundary-breaking Canadian read.
Old Fashioned Butter Tart:
Admittedly, my eyes tend to glaze over the butter tart selection when perusing bakeries, but Hansen’s offers one that is mouthwatering and unforgettable. The filling is syrupy and complemented by a sprinkling of raisins; when I take my first bite, I’m hit with notes of caramel and a wistfulness for golden summer days. The pastry melts easily in my mouth, and it doesn’t take long before I reach for my second bite.
Pair it with: your favourite David Bowie song.
I am perpetually on the lookout for a good brownie, so adding this chocolatey goodness to my basket was an absolute. I normally take the traditional route by adding a glass of milk on the side, but this baked treat is just as enjoyable on its own: the cake is chewy, soft, and indulgently decadent in a satisfyingly subtle way. I’m all for the walnuts—chocolate and nuts are arguably one of the best possible pairings in all things sweet—and the brownie is big enough that I can break it into two and share the treat with my sister.
Pair it with: the love between you and your favourite human.
The holidays may be over, but that doesn’t mean the festive spirit has to fade away just yet. The Linzer is precisely what I envision when I think of a winter cookie. It comes with a sweet-yet-tart jam centre and a dusting of powdered sugar, with hints of spices in the cookie itself. Biting into the Linzer is like taking a mouthful of the best parts of Christmas—I can already imagine these cookies being a huge hit at next year’s holiday parties.
Pair it with: Danforth Music Hall’s nightly jam.
And because no pastry festivity is complete without a savoury component, I of course had to grab a chicken pie to round off my selection. With the weather being as chilly as it is, this pastry is an excellent way of warming your insides without the risk of burning your tongue (I personally like heating it in the oven as to keep the crispiness of the shell). With a creamy filling and hearty chunks of chicken, carrots, and peas, this pie does an excellent—and tasty—job at warding off the winter cold.
Pair it with: a fun personality poll taken on a cozy evening at home.
Craving more treats? Be sure to pick up a copy of our upcoming spring issue, where we’ll take you through the world of chocolate in “Mary’s Brigadeiro: A Sweet Story”!
Featured image and photos by Yoorim Choi