LT in the City's Ultimate Guide to Chicago Cupcakes
When it comes to cupcakes, my reputation precedes me. Even before they were trendy, I was a fan of the bite-sized desserts. I mean, it's physically impossible to be upset while eating a cupcake, amirite? Shortly after meeting me, people often ask what's my favorite cupcake. Well, it's a complicated answer that depends on several things: my mood, the season, the city I'm in at the time, etc. For example, in my hometown of Baltimore (not really my hometown, but no one knows where Belcamp is, sooo...), my favorite cupcake is the French Toast one from Flavor Cupcakery. Fun fact: their original pastry chef, Cupcake Wars winner Jason Hinsley of La Cakerie, made the cupcakes for my wedding. Yum!
And now that I'm in Chicago there is a plethora of cupcake options, which brings me to the purpose of this post: my ultimate guide to Chicago cupcakes.
Flirty Cupcakes Dessert Garage: Let's start in Lincoln Square, shall we? This is the first neighborhood I lived in when I moved to Chicago and it's still very near and dear to my heart. It's also home to one of my favorite Chicago cupcakeries: Flirty Cupcakes. Their IHOP cupcake (think pancake batter with a light maple buttercream frosting topped off with candied bacon) is the best of both worlds: sweet and savory. Besides, everyone knows bacon makes everything better. The only thing that saved me from not eating my body weight in cupcakes when I lived there is that it was often closed by the time I'd get home from the gym. Proof that there is a God.
Molly's Cupcakes: Up next, we'll venture down the brown line to my current 'hood, Lincoln Park (these Illinoisans sure do seem to have a think for the 16th president). Molly's is known for their center-filled cupcakes (the Apple Pie and Peach Cobbler flavored are among my fave). The classic carrot cupcake is a must-try as well. And the interior of Molly's is worth the trip alone (it served as the backdrop for our engagement pictures) for an old-school childhood treat kind of vibe.
Sweet Mandy B's: This colorful cupcakery is also located in Lincoln Park. I've only been there once, but I know it's a popular choice and I follow their executive pastry chef, Sherrie Tan, on Instagram. For a classic vanilla or chocolate cupcake, this is the place to go.
Sprinkles Cupcakes: No, it's not indigenous to Chicago but there's a friggin' cupcake ATM, so it belongs on this list. Sprinkles has a lot of fun flavors to choose from. Personally, I'm a fan of the maple bacon complete with a little piggy on top. I told you: bacon makes everything better.
Magnolia Bakery: If I forced to choose a favorite all-time cupcake, I'd probably have to go with the Hummingbird cupcake from Magnolia Bakery. The banana, pineapple and pecan combo with cream cheese icing is the stuff dreams are made of. Similar to Sprinkles, this cupcakery has its roots outside of Chicago. But, unlike Sprinkles, it's essentially single-handedly responsible for the current cupcake trend, thanks to Sex and the City.
Sugar Bliss Cake Boutique: My sole reason for loving this downtown cupcakery is the fact that they carry pumpkin cupcakes year-round. AND they have mini-cupcakes for when you want "just a taste" of deliciousness. Yum!
(Feature image via Kathleen Hertel Photography, all others by yours truly)
What's your favorite cupcake? Let me know in the comments!