pit stops: Chi > Cle >FLks > Mont > Queb > Mich > Chi

Dear Dessert Oasis,
Your recent posting about your yummy cross country road trip bakery stop in Lincoln, NE made me think I should do some advance planning for my own upcoming road trip. Any tips on wish list dessert stops between Chicago-Cleveland-Finger Lakes region, NY-Montreal-Quebec City- Toronto-and back to Chicago (via Michigan)? Whew! It’ll be a long adventure and we could use some delicious car snacks.
Thanks!
Road Trippin’ Rover


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Dear Road Trippin’,
Having a few known dessert stops on your map will definitely save you from an overload of gas station candy bars and hot pockets – way to think ahead!! That being said, it can be tricky to find great stop offs that don’t veer too far away from the beaten path. (like, unfortch, much of the Ohio turnpike is a bland stretch of oasis pits.)
And so, I’ve outlined a few standouts near each of your destinations, and recommend you stock up as you approach/leave each locale. Be sure to bring a cooler, some extra tupperware, and a roll of paper towels!
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Munster, IN: Munster Donuts (get a sour creme donut or twelve)
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Cleveland: Presti’s Bakery (cannoli), Jack Frost Donuts (including a donut that looks like a hot dog! GET IT.), Sweet Moses (ice cream)
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Finger Lakes: Seneca Farms (banana splits – have to eat your fruits and veggies while you’re on the road), Colonial Inn (ice cream with historic charm)
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Montreal: Mamie Clafoutis (bakery – tarts and croissants and cream puffs, oh my!), Wild Willy’s (ice cream), Les Givres (a lil bit of everything)
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Quebec CityÉrico (chocolate everything, including a chocolate museum to stretch your road-weary legs!)
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and to really savor the last leg of your journey, Michigan! Sister Pie (Detroit – pie, duh), Hinkley Bakery (Jackson – for donuts), Whistle Stop Grocery (Union Pier – cakes, pastries, and maybe some provisions for your fridge back home)


Happy travels and happy eats!!
– Dessert Oasis


*photo creds to many IG travelers: @foodchristinaeats, @whistlestopgrocery, @deeedoyle, @sarhuzarski, @stephyaklin, @terrellm, @tastymorocco, @jenn_pearce, @nadiawasti


Have a dessert question?  Email me at courtneysconza@gmail.com – from funnel cakes to fondue fountains, if it has sugar, I’ve probably eaten it.

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Dessert Detour: Blue’s Cafe

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If I described a place that made strawberry pie, strawberry silk pie, strawberry rhubarb pie, coconut cream pie, coconut meringue pie, peanut butter pie, triple berry pie, peach pie, blueberry pie, raisin pie, key lime pie, pecan pie, cherry pie, butterscotch meringue pie, custard pie, Hawaiian pie, apple pie and lemon meringue pie DAILY, you’d probably guess that I was describing a pie shop. If I told you that over half of these pies sold out by 3pm, you’d probably guess that this pie shop was located on a busy street in a major city. You probably would not guess that this is all going down in an unassuming diner on a quiet road in Kankakee. NO JOKE.

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When I called ahead to be sure they had the butterscotch meringue, I was on the phone for about 5 minutes while all pie varieties were rambled off. Who would have guessed, with all those options, that when I arrived a few hours later, the beloved butterscotch would be sold out?!? Where are all these crazy pie eaters coming from?? Do all Kankakee citizens have pie filling running through their veins?

Blue’s Cafe is about 10 min west of I-57, and has been around since maybe 1954 – or at least that’s what an old photo on the wall says. They have all the usual diner fare: good coffee, sandwiches, soups, omelets, etc., but to be honest, I didn’t even look at a regular menu. I came for the pie. I sat down, ordered a cup of coffee, and said, “I’ll be having a lot of pie.”

And when my three slices arrived on the table, they created a bit of a stir. Like everyone stared and shouted and beamed with pride and amazement.

“You go girl!”
“You should take a picture!”
“That’s my kind of meal.”
“I shoulda got that!”
“Are you a taste tester?”
“Even Trish can only do two slices (with ice cream).”
“I thought she was kidding when she said she was getting three slices.”

On the table:

blueberry – warm with a flaky, buttery crust

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strawberry silk – (because what is that?? it’s like what Strawberry Shortcake would bring to an afternoon tea if she made pies instead of cakes) – with a graham cracker crust and fresh strawberries

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coconut cream loaded with tons of coconut and piled high with whipped cream

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For the record, I didn’t not finish all of these in one sitting. I brought some samplings home with me much to the delight of my tasting assistants who – ahem –  literally drooled on the floor while they were devouring.

ps: three slices and a bottomless coffee cost $10
!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

WLW: Goldenrod Pastries

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It has recently come to my attention that Nebraska has more than just corn and cornhuskers. Gone are the days of just passing through, because about two years ago a baking blog became an actual bakery, and Goldenrod Pastries became a reason to stop in Lincoln.

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Basically, it looks like they have it all. Cardamom or lavender poundcake, sour cherry or honey turmeric macarons, lemon curd or rhubarb crumble buns, lime sherbet or raspberry rose or peanut butter/cashew brittle cupcakes, turtle cheesecake made with goat’s milk caramel and local pecans, cosmic brownies with fancy sprinkles. Dairy-free, gluten-free, paleo, whatever dietary situation you endure, you will not be restricted here. And whatever you want to write on a custom cake, you will not be restricted either.

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I generally like a wandering road trip where I have the ability to stop and see the world’s largest ball of twine or pick blueberries at a roadside farm. But the next time I’m making a cross-country trip, I’ll have to be a bit more precise with my schedule. Because I either need to call ahead for my custom cake order (prob a reasonable 6″ round confetti cake with mocha frosting, fresh fruit and glitter that says HERE FOR IT) and/or stay at least a night in ol’ Nebrasky in order to maximize the quantity of pastries I’ll be able to put away. I mean, really, f a Sbarro’s oasis and canisters of Pringles. Imma need some fancy fuel to keep me awake and happy on my next car trip through the plains. And this colorful, crazy, sassy bakery has now been added to my road atlas.

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*all photos by: @goldenrodpastries

 

at Jennivee’s, I’m the girl with the most cake

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If you’re driving near Sheffield/Roscoe in June, you’re probably looking for Cubs parking/cursing yourself that you’re in the neighborhood on a game day. Well while you’re navigating one-ways and praying for a win, please kindly drop me off at 3301 N. Sheffield and just text me when you’ve found a spot. Because my new pre-game (preferably NOT on a game day) is eating all the cake at Jennivee’s Bakery.

Located somewhat surprisingly where it’s located, Jennivee’s is a delicious cake mecca in an ocean of Old Style and peanuts, street fests and strollers. I love these cakes so much I will fight my way past ZZ Top cover band groupies and spilly frat boys to get a slice or 3.

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This Filipino bakery is open latelate. They continue to bake throughout the day. The slices are BIG (and – IMO – are preferable to the cupcakes). You will be caught off-guard by how light and fresh and not dense everything is. You’ll want to faceplant, but let’s keep it classy – there are floor-to-ceiling windows in this bakery and they don’t need that kind of advertising.

After much deliberation, I, along with my hardworking assistant, got:

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a slice of mango cakesupermoist mango chiffon with mango mousse and a layer of fresh mango slices. Can cake be refreshing? It can. This was like a cake version of a mango lassi.

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a slice of blackout cake – dark chocolate cake with chocolate pudding layers. Deep cocoa-y intense but not overly rich. Like, no prob, let’s eat the whole thing.

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a slice of purple velvet – ube chiffon cake with ube mousse with fresh coconut strings mixed into the mousse layer. Like a goddamn springy cloud. If you’ve never had ube and are thinking “WTF is this, a potato loaf?,” do yourself a favor and learn about it and then get this cake for your gateway slice. There’s no going back.

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We also had a pistachio cupcake and a citrusy tres leches cupcake – whipped cream NOT buttercream frostings, thank the heavens, bc Jennivee knows what’s up. I will be going back for a slice of spumoni cake, a slice of red velvet, a slice of caramel cake, a slice of Nutella cake, a slice of Sansrival cashew cake, a slice of EVERYTHING.

 

 

breakfast box:

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Portillo’s Lemon Cake: a modern love story

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Oh the power of the internet…… Forget about match.com, eharmony or even Tinder, because thanks to a plea on Reddit, Ben and his true love, Portillo’s Lemon Cake, are back together again after a loooong 10 years of separation. And we can all share in his joy because, well, we can all share in some lemon cake.

Basically Ben was just sitting around missing Lemon Cake one day (no judging, we’ve all been there), so he took to the interwebs to see what could be done. He promised to pay $300 to anyone who could obtain the recipe. And Portillo’s heard his desperate cry.

From today (June 13) until July 31 (and for much less than $300), all Portillo’s across the land are bringing back their long lost dessert. Available by the slice or by the whole cake (call ahead a few hrs if you want a whole cake), the legendary Lemon Cake tastes like if a kid in your 3rd grade class brought lemon cupcakes to school for his bday. Maybe the kid’s name was Ben?

*side note: as I took my first bite of cake “What a Wonderful World” came on over the loud speaker. Well said, Louis. Well done, Ben. #faithinhumanityrestored

 

Mr. Holmes: get baked, get messy, get it

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A new Mr. Holmes just opened in Larchmont. Really. This is real life. Two Holmes’ in LA! Considered yourself #blessed. You now live in a reality where you can eat your weight in sprouted probiotic brown rice topped with adzuki beans and sea vegetables, and a mere 5 min walk later find yourself covered in pastry cream and laminated flakes. #whatatimetobealive

Whether you’re in Larchmont, Highland Park, San Fran, the OC, or Seoul, Mr. Holmes Bakehouse should definitely be a stopping point to pick up a box of all things pastry. The hype is to be believed. Croissants, donuts, danishes, cookies, and the all-famous cruffin.

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Some flavors are always (like the Churro Croissant filled with dulce de leche and dusted with cinn sug, or the California Croissant filled with smoked salmon, wasabi, ginger, sesame and served with a packet of soy sauce – decidedly not desserty but GET IT). Some flavors change daily (upcoming June standouts include: root beer float cruffins, horchata cruffins, grilled nectarine and rosemary jam donuts, caraway/coffee/fig donuts). On the day I visited, Arnold Palmer cruffins and strawberry rose donuts were obv menu choices.

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There is no denying that Mr. Holmes is IG heaven. Beautiful pastries, neon signs, lettered tiling, rows upon rows of freshly baked goods…..

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…..but let’s be real. As in: real life is more than a highlight reel of perfect snaps. I would be remiss if I didn’t at least mention that this is what Mr. Holmes actually looks like once the feasting has begun:

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And this is the work of a well-seasoned professional! So let me throw a few crumbs of Holmesy wisdom your way to help get you up to speed: 1) let the staff cut your treats in half for you – they know what’s up. 2) gather lots of napkins. 3) go in with clean hands – you don’t want to be licking who knows what along with cascading cream. 4) own it – channel your inner Mrs. Teevee palming that whipped creamy mushroom in Wonka’s candy room.

 

 

National Donut Day 2017: something to crow about

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I am not a morning person. If I’m going on a vacation, I might be excited to wake up early to catch my flight. If it’s Christmas and I’m 7 years old, I might be excited to wake up early and reap the rewards of being nice vs. naughty. All other mornings, you will catch me snoozing and dreaming of an afternoon nap.

On the rare occasion that I am up and about in the morning (like on National Donut Day), I recognize my place as an outsider as I marvel at the calm other-worldliness of it all. Who are these early risers? These dog walkers, these stroller pushers, these I’ll-have-my-ususal coffee drinkers…..do they all know each other? Do they have a secret nod? Can they tell that I’m not really one of them? I bet they can. Just the way I can tell that 90% of the people standing in donut lines today are not really donut eaters.

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Much like the night before Thanksgiving when a bunch of non-cooks are bumbling around clogging up grocery store aisles, National Donut Day has become a national cheat day with early bird weight watchers coming out of the woodwork to get their yearly serving of frosted fried dough. You’d think donut shops would be the natural habitat of the single digit o’clock crew, but they aren’t quite.

If you joke that honey lavender is a candle scent and not a donut flavor, this day is not for you. If you are normally slurping protein smoothies or plain oatmeal or gnawing on carrot sticks and giving me dirty looks while I order a half dozen with a fork, I will see you later. If you change your single donut order 3 times at the cash register, please move to the back of the line. Or better yet, there should be two lines similar to the TSA: one for frequent donut eaters and another for those who are wearing lace up boots and toting full-size bottles of shampoo. Because NEWSFLASH: donut amateurs are causing donut shops to sell out by 9:15AM. The gall. Where have they been for the other 364 days? And now it’s NINE FIFTEEN IN THE GD MORNING AND THE DONUTS ARE GONE.

Since this is the reality that we now live in, let me give you a few tips:

1) Get there early – there will be lines, even at Dunkin’. Come on.

2) Support local. Even better if it’s locals supporting locals, as in Pandamonium Doughnuts’ newest flavor Honey Lavender using honey from Campbell Apiaries.

3) When in doubt, let your fingers do the walking. I’ll be seeing you on a non-holiday, Daylight Donuts, and I will obvs be getting a “Something To Crow About” shirt since donuts are one of my top crowing topics.

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(featured above: free donut with any bev at DD. maple bacon apple fritter, strawberry basil, honey lavender, saigon cinnamon sugar from Pandamonium. all purchased before 8:30 in the morning and now I’m going back to bed.)