Restaurant Review

Sweet treats at Susie's Shortbreads

Cupcakes, cheesecakes and truffles. Oh my!


Susie's classic cupcake, vanilla cake with pink butter cream icing and pink sprinkles, is made for people whose eyes are bigger than their bellies (Photo: Kathryn Walsh)

I walked into Susie's Shortbreads on Dresden Row, eyes wide and full of wonder.

"First time?" the lady at the counter asked. I nodded, and she laughed. "I know; it's pretty overwhelming."

The sheer number and variety of fresh-baked goods, once I got close enough to the counter to see them, is enough to make your head spin.

Susie's specialty is shortbread cookies, but they also have gourmet cupcakes, fudge (with flavours ranging from Belgian chocolate and Canadian maple to cookies 'n' crème and "Skor-nado") and other bonbons.

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Turtle cheesecake baby, Reese's Pieces cupcake truffle and Caramilk cheesecake baby in the background (Photo: Kathryn Walsh)

I'd seen them before at the Halifax Seaport Farmers' Market, so I wanted to check out their shop. (They also have a storefront in Bayers Lake.) I decided that I'd get a couple of different things and bring them home to share.

There were so many options that it was difficult to choose. I guess it made it easier that I was there in mid-afternoon, so they'd already run out of a number of items, which narrowed my options a bit.

Word to the wise: for the freshest products and best selection, go early in the day - even if it means eating cupcakes at 10 a.m. My goodies held up well, so you can always save them for later in the day.

I finally decided on two cheesecake babies (Caramilk and Turtle, $1.25 each), a Reese's Pieces cupcake truffle ($2.25)  and Susie's classic cupcake ($3.00).  If you think three dollars is steep for a cupcake, wait till you see it. It's so big, it comes with its own special carrying case for travelling.

I brought my treats home and split them with two friends. First we tried the cheesecake babies. Essentially, they're bite-sized cheesecakes with a shortbread bottom. The Caramilk cheesecake was smooth and creamy, a piece of Caramilk bar embedded in chocolaty cream with a chocolate shortcake base.

One of my companions summed it up around a mouthful of chocolate: "I need a glass of milk."

The Turtle cheesecake baby was like Turtles candy -- chocolate, caramel and pecans. We all liked the crunchiness of the nut on top, although one friend said he missed the creaminess of the first cheesecake. I thought this one had a sharper and more complex flavour, as opposed to just being sweet.

After trying the cupcake truffle, we were all unsure about it. It literally is cupcake batter, in this case with crushed Reese's Pieces, dipped in chocolate. The texture was strange, especially after the creamy cheese. I didn't think it was peanut buttery enough, and while one friend (also a big peanut butter fan) agreed, the other thought it was a good balance between peanut butter and chocolate.

We left the pièce de résistance for last.  Susie's classic cupcake, vanilla cake with pink vanilla butter cream icing and pink sprinkles, is one of the shop's most popular, according to the woman working at the counter.

Susie's has more than a hundred varieties of cupcakes in its recipe book, with the same dozen or so for sale all the time, plus a few feature flavours each week.

Some of the choices when I was there included lemon zinger, white chocolate raspberry and Death by Chocolate, Susie's other best-seller cupcake. You can order them one at a time, or by the dozen. They also do special orders, if you'd like a flavour that isn't on the day's menu.

We took the cupcake from its little case and laid it gently on the table, wondering how we were going to tackle it. The icing was piped around the top of it at least an inch high. We each practiced a few test bites, just to see if anyone could actually take a proper bite out of it.

"You can't eat that cupcake," one friend said bluntly to me. "It's too big for you."

I decided to go for it anyway, and ended up with a mouthful of sugar and icing all over my nose. This cupcake is extremely sweet. The cake is nice and dense, but the frosting must be made purely of sugar.

"I liked it. It's not full of air," said one companion. "I feel like I got my money's worth."

Still, she said, it's too sweet to eat every day, even if it weren't three dollars.

After four desserts, my friends and I were nearly bouncing off the walls.

We all agreed that desserts from Susie's Shortbreads were a nice treat if you happened to be in the area, although I wouldn't go out of my way for them.

But if you're looking for a sweet treat or a sugar rush, Susie's is the place to go.  


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