Biting into a moist and flavourful carrot cupcake with smooth cream cheese icing from Smoochies Cakery in Bradford West Gwillimbury, I never would have guessed the owners had recently put 66 pounds of grated carrots into their baking.
Melinda Coady and John Da Silva loaded up on carrots — thankfully pre-shredded by Gwillimdale Farms — for the Carrot Fest crowd.
But sourcing the best ingredients for a great product and connecting with the community is all part of how the couple does business.
“We want to feel like family with customers. We really enjoy those relationships,” Coady said.
Supporting the local community and making connections with people is important to the couple, and that is clear the moment you walk into Smoochies.
Coady and Da Silva are welcoming, and the bright, cheerful space has original artwork by local artist Ingrid Schienke, and glass cases packed with delicious treats — lemon meringue cheesecake, maple bacon cheesecake, peanut butter balls, chocolate chip cookie cheesecake bars, and cupcakes across the flavour spectrum, from lemon raspberry, to watermelon, to red velvet, to vanilla and chocolate.
“Our cheesecake is selling. We knew it was good but it’s taken off,” Coady said. “We’ve made jokes, ‘Should we just sell cheesecake now?’”
Smoochies also offer vegan brownies and have branched out into keto desserts, including a strawberry cheesecake.
It also has a coffee bar with beans from Muskoka Roastery Coffee Company, which is based in Huntsville.
Smoochies’ desserts are moist, delicious and not too sweet, and I am not the only fan.
Coady and Da Silva have sold their desserts to people from around the world, including the Greater Toronto Area, Detroit, and one person even took some caramelita squares — a mix of brown sugar, oats, caramel and chocolate — on a plane with them home to Scotland.
For me, getting to see behind the scenes in Smoochies’ kitchen was another kind of treat.
When I arrived, Coady was decorating a birthday cake — smoothing a layer of icing and then piping white icing into a beautiful design that looked effortless.
She has, after all, been baking since she was a kid.
“I’ve been baking with my grandma (since childhood). I used to bake pies. It’s my comfort zone. It’s something I’ve always been happy doing,” she said. “The decorating stuff didn’t come along until much later.”
It was not until Coady and Da Silva’s daughter, Brooklyn, was about to have her first birthday party that Coady wanted to learn how to decorate a really special cake.
As Brooklyn grew up, each year she would draw out a picture of how she wanted her cake, and Coady and Da Silva would try to recreate it for her.
“It just snowballed from there,” she said.
Together, Coady, a former bank customer service representative, and Da Silva, whose experience was in marketing, catering, art, and managing car dealerships, started Smoochies out of their home in 2014. They soon opened their store at 64 Holland St., until they moved to their current location just west of Barrie Street in June.
Smoochies is a family affair, with Brooklyn, Da Silva’s daughter, Baleigh, and Coady’s mom, Bev, helping out from time to time. Coady’s dad is often sitting in the front window and is known to staff as “the little bodyguard.”
The new space also has a lot more room to bake and decorate, Coady said.
“This is much better for us. Someone was baking on one half (of a small table area in the old kitchen), and someone was decorating on the other,” she said.
At the new location, there is also a party room that can be rented for cupcake decorating birthday parties or meetings, and, starting this month, Smoochies will hold paint-night events, said Coady.
But one of the best parts of the job, she added, is seeing the expression on someone’s face when they pick up an order.
“When a little kid says, ‘This is the best cake ever. This is the best party ever,’” Coady said.
Beyond just a bakery, she and Da Silva donate to as many local charities and causes as possible, including cancer funds, DeafBlind Ontario Services, and Blue Door Shelters.
They donate 200 cupcakes each year to the Bradford Board of Trade’s annual appreciation barbecue, have given away cupcakes to retirement homes, and they have sponsored an 18-year-old race car driver and a Bradford Bulldogs player.
And Sundays are particularly good days to hang around Smoochies if you have a sweet tooth. Each week after they shut down, they hand out the leftover cupcakes to local businesses near their shop at 17 Holland St. W. because they are closed Mondays and do not want to keep stale treats.
BWG resident Susana Ostronoff recently paid for 65 cupcakes from Smoochies to be given away one day in June by the bakery for free in honour of her dad, who died of cancer last year. Da Silva and Coady matched that by giving away an additional 65 cupcakes, and all tips earned that day were donated to the Canadian Cancer Society.
The pair are committed to supporting the community, as well as coming up with cool new combinations and flavours of treats for their customers.
“We make really cool, awesome cakes. It’s fun to come to work every day,” Coady said. “We couldn’t have asked for anything better.”
For more information about Smoochies Cakery, visit the website.