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Wednesday
Sep172008

Cakewalk Special: a Whirlwind Sugar Rush in the Windy City

Canele, Floriole Bakery, Chicago
The most important lesson learned spending 48 hours in Chicago?

48 hours are not nearly enough to taste all of the fantastic baked goods the city has to offer. Nonetheless, we were armed with suggestions from friends Natalie (of Bake and Destroy), Sandy (the Milwaukee Cupcake Queen) and Claudia Saraniecki--and so we tried our damndest to try all we could in our short time in this gorgeous city. No, we didn't try every bakery--but we certainly did try some good ones:

Ice Cream Cone Cookies, BittersweetChocolate flecked Sable cookie, Bittersweet
Bittersweet Pastry Shop: This pastry shop feels a bit like a Parisian pâtisserie has gotten an American makeover: gorgeous cases full of French treats (sables, tarts, croissants) existing peacefully side by side with American standards (cupcakes, cobblers, muffins). The sables, which were made in a slightly more rustic way than we've seen, were perfect--that is to say, full of butter and completely delicious. Hours: Tues-Fri, 7 a.m.-7 p.m.; Saturday 8 a.m.-7 p.m.; Sunday 8 a.m.-6 p.m. 1114 W Belmont Ave., (773) 929-1100; online at bittersweetpastry.com.

Bleeding HeartCookiesBleeding HeartBleeding Heart

Bleeding Heart Bakery: This small space packs a punch--an amazingly extensive array of cookies, cakes, tarts, bars and more inhabit their cases, with a large variety of vegan choices.It also seems to be a popular spot for kids--on a brief visit, no less than four groups of parents with strollers or small children came in. Having already picked up some cake at nearby Chaos Theory, we settled on a vegan Earl Grey shortbread cookie here, curious to see how that (dairy-heavy) recipe might translate. In one spy's opinion, though it didn't taste like other shortbreads, this was a gorgeous cookie: crumbly, with a subtle tea flavor that managed to avoid being bitter, and a slight saltiness in the afterbite. This is all to say--yum. Hours: Tues-Sat, 6 a.m. - 7 p.m; Sun, 8 a.m. - 6 p.m.; closed Monday. 1955 W Belmont Ave., (773) 327-6934; online at thebleedingheartbakery.com.

Red velvet from Bombon Americano, ChicagoVanilla-chocolate from Bombon Americano
Bombon Americano: This was an extra-special spot because it's here that Head Spy Jessie met Natalie of Bake & Destroy fame! This place is a treasure in a neighborhood full of chain restaurants, with a well-stocked bakery case full of tarts, cupcakes and other assorted treats. We enjoyed a black and white (vanilla-chocolate) and red velvet cupcake respectively--the cake was moist and flavorful, but even more impressive was the silky buttercream, which seemed somehow light and decadent all at once. Hours: Mon-Sat, 7 a.m.-7 p.m.; closed Sunday. 1000 N. Clark St., (312) 787-7717; online at bombonamericano.com.

Chaos Theory, ChicagoChaos Theory, ChicagoChaos Theory, ChicagoCAKE
Chaos Theory: Approaching from the opposite side of the street, the first thing you'll see is a huge, light-up, hot pink sign that says "CAKE". If that doesn't bode well, what does? Chaos Theory is the newest retail spot opened by Michelle Garcia of Bleeding Heart Bakery fame, and walking into the shop is like walking into an alternate universe--neon-toned chairs at funky, mismatched tables, cool graffiti and artwork on the walls, and cake--and cookies, and truffles with Jesus motifs. If this is another planet, we want to stay here: take us to your leader. PS-Desiree, who was working during the Cakespy visit, was awesome! 2961 N. Lincoln Ave., (773) 281-2353; online at chaostheorycakes.com.

Floriole (pictured top): A surprise find! Floriole runs a booth at the Lincoln Park Farmers market, which is where we came across them closing up for the day. Luckily, we were able to snag a Canelé de bordeaux before they shut down completely. What's that, you wonder? Who cares? It's soaked in alcohol and vanilla, and it's a beautiful little bite. 2119 N. Rockwell St., (773) 252-0095, or see there Farmer's Market schedule here; online at floriolebakery.com.

Brownie from Letizia'sLetizia's
Letizia's Natural Bakery: Heavy, rich, decadent, and huge--that pretty much sums up Letizia's. But most importantly, delicious. Sure, it's all natural and organic--but does that make up for the fact that the average pastry here weighs about a pound? Probably not, but with rows of slablike brownies, cookie sandwiches with enough ganache to feed a village, and tiramisu that might make your head spin, you might just stop caring. In fact, our only complaint here was that when we asked the employee what his favorite treat was, he said "I don't care for sweets". Sacrilege! Luckily he came around and described some of the most popular treats for us. Good boy. Hours: Weekdays, 6 a.m.-11 p.m.; Weekends, 6:30 a.m.-11:00 p.m. 2122 W Division St., (773) 342-1011; online at superyummy.com.

Molly's Cupcakes, ChicagoMolly's Cupcakes, Chicago

Molly's Cupcakes: Prepare for cuteness overload as you enter the cheerful orange-and-teal entryway. They have a sprinkle bar! And swings for seating! Even their story is adorable! While some salty old types might be cynical in the face of all this cuteness, not us. The carrot cake was moist, and we tried something a little different and went for the brown butter frosting instead of the classic cream cheese. It was good, but made us realize how much we enjoy that creamy tang--so we'd likely go for the cream cheese next time. A nice array of cookies, brownies, and even ice cream too; overall, a solid stop and a really fun shop to visit. Hours: Mon, 12 p.m.-10 p.m; Tue-Thurs, 8 a.m.-10 p.m.; Fri-Sat, 8 a.m.-12 a.m.; Sun, 8 a.m.-10 p.m. 2536 N Clark St, (773) 883-7220; online at mollyscupcakes.com.

More Cupcakes: This spot opened the day after our departure, but it intrigues us--read more here. Any reader input? Online at morecupcakes.com.

SwirlzSwirlz
Swirlz: The cupcakes here are a little spendy ($3.50 each), but they're impeccably decorated and a bit larger than the average cupcake, so consider it a wash. If we were to make one complaint, and really, it's not so much a complaint as the ramblings of starry eyed dreamer, it would be that though these are good cupcakes--the cake was moist, the frosting was buttery--it somehow felt strange eating such pretty cakes that tasted so relatively normal. Don't let that stop you from going though--all things considered, they're a good normal, and the staff was all super-friendly. Hours: Mon-Sat, 10 a.m.-7 p.m.; closed Sunday. 705 W. Belden, (773) 404-CAKE; online at swirlzcupcakes.com.

Twisted Sister Bakery, Chicago
Twisted Sister: Oh, thumbprint cookie from Twisted Sister. How delicious you were. If only we had you again, we'd take you to the park, we'd whisper sweet nothings in your buttery, nutty little ear...compliment your delicate dollop of sweet jam...and then eat you! Again! ...This is to say...we love the cookies at Twisted Sister. The cakes didn't look so bad either, though we didn't get a chance to try anything else. Hours: Mon-Fri, 10 a.m.-10 p.m.; Sat, 9 a.m.-10 p.m.; Sun, 9 a.m.-9 p.m. 1543 N. Wells St., (312) 932-1128; online at twistedsisterbakery.com.


Bombon Americano
Oh Chicago...we miss you already! (Cupcakes, Bombon Americano)



Reader Comments (27)

Only been to Chicago once, and certainly didn't have the pleasure of seeing all these luscious baked goods! I did see Marshall Fields, tho. That was an experience!

September 22 | Unregistered Commenterkellypea

wonderful wonderful report! I'm going to Chicago (for less than 48 hours too) in August and will try to hit some of the bakeries featured. LOVE the Cake sign at Chaos Theory!

June 26 | Unregistered Commenterby char C

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