Faced with the challenge of finding a cupcake flavor combination to satisfy even the sweetest tooth, two seventh-graders, Julia Porter and Ella Berry, from Bernard Zell Anshe Emet Day School, came up with their own plan: a taste-test tour of Chicago ‘s most popular cupcake shops. They swore to see a dentist afterwards.
Cupcakes at these bodacious bakeries are small on size but big on everything else: creativity, variety and, of course, taste.
Named after “Chief Egg Cracker” John Nicolaides’ third-gradeteacher, Molly’s produces enough cupcake concoctions to try adifferent flavor every day for two weeks. Molly’s special, the RonBennington, is named after the XM radio comedian, and is achocolate cake, peanut butter filling, butterscotch topping sliceof heaven. (It’s also Julia’s favorite.) So dedicated to childrenis Nicolaides that he donates a portion of profits directly toschools in the community.
2536 N. Clark St. Chicago, 773-883-7220
With cupcakes that look like they’re straight out of a museum,the Gold Coast shop More Cupcakes turns cake-making into an art.It’s standing room only to sample More’s cakes, but adults and kidsalike will find flavors like Oreo and S’more (think homemademarshmallow, toasted with a torch) sweetly satisfying. Even better,More has a roving cupcake truck that will show up at your child’sbirthday party. How sweet.
1 E. Delaware Place Chicago, 312-951-0001
Phoebe’s aims to create “the best gourmet cupcake anywhere.” Forthe kiddos, the “Funfetti” cupcake is just as it sounds-a vanillacupcake with sprinkles in the batter and in the vanilla frosting.Who needs birthday cake? The girls found Phoebe’s cupcakes to bethe “most creative” and favored the breakfast cupcake, apancake-flavored cake invention with a real piece of bacon on top.Just the kind of well-rounded breakfast mama ordered.
Phoebe’s Cupcakes, 3327 N. Broadway Chicago,773-868-4000
Calling itself “the progenitor of the haute cupcake craze,”Beverly Hills-born Sprinkles Cupcakes provides a benchmark for themodern cupcake shop. Sprinkles consistently has a line out thedoor, but the staff was more than happy to serve our needs, albeitquickly. Beat the early crowd for the perfect coffee break and headover to Sprinkles during the week from 9-11 a.m. for a freemini-cupcake for the kids with the purchase of an adultcupcake.
Sprinkles Cupcakes, 50 East Walton St. Chicago,312-573-1600
In the heart of the Loop lies a cupcake oasis filled withfrosted, flower-topped creations to service the random tourist ordaily commuter. Owner Teresa Ging, who’s been whipping up thesesweet treats for three years, makes goodies ranging from thecorporate (think edible logos) to “frosting shots” for the waitingparents of ravenous children. We all loved the way the signatureflower toppings looked, and Ella in particular thought theatmosphere was “really fun.”
Sugar Bilss Cafe, 115 N. Wabash St. Chicago,312-845-9669
You can’t think Chicago cupcake without mentioning Sweet MandyB’s. With its pastel-colored interior, this place is made for thekids. The sugary frosting comes in colors that match the walls andthere’s a separate annex space for sitting or having your owncupcake decorating parties (up to age 10.) “One of the best redvelvets,” Ella said.
Sweet Mandy B’s, 1208 West Webster Ave. Chicago,773-244-1174
Catering to a more sophisticated palette, Swirlz Cupcakes topstheir cakes with authentic Italian whipped buttercream frosting.Owner Pam Rose calls her creations “gourmet fun.” And if you can’tmake it to Lincoln Park , Swirlz cupcakes are in 17 local WholeFoods stores. The girls found the staff to be “very friendly” andthe cupcakes “very natural.”
Swirlz Cupcakes, 705 West Belden Ave.Chicago,773-404-2253
Tucked away behind an alcove of what used to be a jewelry storelies Evanston ‘s newest gem-Tiny Dog Cupcake. More than just acupcake storefront, Tiny Dog offers hot and cold beverages, a realcafé, to quench your thirst after eating. The dark hot chocolatepanache made for a great balance to the Tiny Dog signature flavor,the Dark Chocolate Minty. The girls found Tiny Dog to be “veryroomy” and it is-there’s enough space in one of the alcoves to hostyour own personal cupcake-decorating party.
Tiny Dog Cupcakes 616 Davis St.Evanston,847-563-8680