France’s most beloved sweet is the fo­cus at this new dessert café.

This neigh­bour­hood new­bie is de­voted to France’s great­est dessert

Annex Post - - FOOD - By Karolyne El­la­cott

There’s some­thing so sat­is­fy­ing about crack­ing into a pot of crème brûlée. First one must suss out the best en­try point, then comes a quick and pre­cise tap of a spoon’s edge and fi­nally — crack! — a swoop into the cus­tardy depths. It’s hard to find a dessert that delivers quite the same panache as the French classic. And it wasn’t un­til now that Toron­to­ni­ans had a shop de­voted to the lus­cious caramel-topped cus­tard.

FROM CARS TO CRÈME

Daniel Wong wasn’t exactly on the path to open­ing a crème brûlée café. Orig­i­nally hail­ing from Van­cou­ver, Wong built a ca­reer for him­self paint­ing cars out west. Al­though he’d al­ways had a deep ap­pre­ci­a­tion for food, his cook­ing skills were non-ex­is­tent. But work­ing in an in­dus­try known for its ho­mo­pho­bia even­tu­ally took a toll on Wong, who iden­ti­fies as gay, and he re­al­ized a ca­reer change was in or­der.

“I never knew how to cook, so I de­cided to study culi­nary arts,” Wong says. Jump­ing into a French culi­nary pro­gram, Wong fig­ured that, even if he wasn’t taken with the food in­dus­try, the course wouldn’t be in vain. Instead, the bud­ding chef found him­self ob­sessed with crème brûlée. “I was just fas­ci­nated by it, and the torch­ing part,” Wong says, draw­ing par­al­lels be­tween the two lines of work he’s par­taken in. “It’s a good can­vas to work on. With cars, you cus­tom­ize your own paint, whereas with crème brûlée, you mix the bat­ter and make it into what­ever you want.”

KEEP IT LOCAL

A few years and a move to Toronto later, Wong’s shop can be found just off the main stretch of St. Clair West. In­side, the café is laid-back, with high ceil­ings, cus­tom art­work and plenty of seats. Wong him­self can be found behind the counter, dart­ing back and forth be­tween cus­tomers, scoop­ing Liège waf­fle bat­ter into a hot press and, yes, torch­ing crème brûlées to or­der.

THE COR­NER­STONE

A menu of the avail­able flavours sits next to the cash. Sweet toothed pa­trons can or­der it­er­a­tions of the dessert in ev­ery­thing from white choco­late rose to ly­chee vodka to, of course, a classic vanilla bean.

Al­though the build­ing blocks of the dessert — cream, eggs and su­gar — are sim­ple, the cor­ner­stone re­ally is tem­per­a­ture con­trol. “You can’t rush crème brûlée,” Wong says. “The lower the tem­per­a­ture, the longer the time, the smoother your prod­uct is going to be.” With that silky con­sis­tency per­fected, Wong is able to play with flavours. The Viet­namese cof­fee ver­sion is in­fused with a very in­tense French roast and con­densed milk, whereas the ube option pairs the pur­ple yam with a co­conut milk mix­ture.

“My cus­tomers are usually pretty ex­cited,” Wong says with­out any airs. “It’s a whole ex­pe­ri­ence.”

“It’s life chang­ing!” pipes up a cus­tomer on her way out. And there you have it.

Craque de Crème, 1360 Bathurst St., 647-699-8233

Owner Daniel Wong and his classic vanilla bean crème brûlée

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