WHY DID I WAIT????

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Why have I never tried this sweet baby angel cousin of Ferrero Rocher until JUST NOW?? Was it the grandmaesque packaging reminiscent of sofa slipcovers? The fact that they were omnipresent next to checkout line Whitman’s? Whatever the reason, today (and every day) I needed to treat myself, so I bought a box of 15 and am now down to 4.

F.R. calls the Raffaello “ a surprising taste experience,” and I 10,000% agree. This is coconut dreams come true. This is heaven. And it’s available at Walgreens.
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Never too cold for pie

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Hi Chicago. In case you’re thinking it’s too cold for ice cream (it isn’t – IT NEVER IS), let me tell you about Spumoni PIE. Yes. Spumoni in pie form. From Bang Bang.

Graham crust topped with pistachio pastry cream, then dark chocolate ganache, then cherry whipped cream, then candied pistachios, then into my mouth. SO GOOD. All the layers in one bite instead of hunting around to get a bit of each à la reg spumoni.

Get it now!!

And overheard while pieing:

7 year old to her parents: “What do you love more, comics or pie?”
Parents in unison: “PIE.”

7 year old: “The whole point of this place is pie. You want to get pie, get pie. Pie gets you feeling relaxed.”

They’re raising her right.

Honorable mention: Coco-nana pie – coconut pastry cream with roasted banana caramel and whipped cream. Instant transport away from icy sidewalks.

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Sunday Sundae: have it your way

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When it’s 65 degrees in FEBRUARY in ILLINOIS what do you do? You get a banana split. When a traditional banana split comes with the traditional chocolate/strawberry/vanilla combo and you hate vanilla ice cream what do you do? You swap in coconut. Everyone’s happy, traditionalists are none the wiser.

(like, I am all about empty calories, but what’s the point if it doesn’t taste good? no point. and why am I paying for it if I’m not going to eat it. I’m not. take that, Vanilla. don’t even look at me.)

The perfect substitute for such a tropical afternoon – the perfect substitute any time vanilla is forced your way. Even better when the coconut ice cream is made in-house using fresh coconut.

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eating for a cause

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old fashioned or raised? glazed or filled? big or small? fancy or simple? for yourself or to share? donut decisionzzzzzz

Firecakes has you covered no matter your donut mood, and that last question is a relatively easy one: ALWAYS something for yourself! #duh #treatyoself #qualitycontrol But for the month of October (aka Breast Cancer Awareness Month) they are making it even easier. They have turned their classic pearl-topped Tahitian vanilla donut pink, and a portion of each pink vanilla purchase will go towards research funding. This is basically guilt-free donuting at its finest. Donut sharing at its most sharey.

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And in case you needed another reason to run over to Firecakes ASAP, might I mention their current specialty fritter, made with 3 hr roasted grapes and Taleggio. Yes, you read correctly: stinky cheese in your donut. Trust me, or rather, trust Firecakes! (and also get yourself at least one coconut cream donut bc you’re worth it)

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Chinese paper cupcakes

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Maybe not their official name, I’ve called these “paper cupcakes” my entire life. (I think they may technically be called 紙包蛋糕 , and who am I to argue?)  If you stop in a Chinese bakery and mention “the cake baked in paper” you should be ok. 

Instead of colorful, patterned, pleated and possibly foil-lined baking cups, these cakes appear to be baked in some leftover Xerox paper. I’m sure the paper is culinary-grade, but there’s still a certain endearing whimsy to the possibility of sending out an office memo on the wrapper once you’re done. (ATTN: All Personnel: I’m eating cake again, please restock the supplies ASAP.)

All that aside, these are lighter, fluffier, eggier, and taller than a regular cupcake. They’re similar to a sponge cake or a chiffon cake, and you can get them at most Chinese bakeries. I go to Chiu Quon Bakery in Chicago’s Chinatown, where on this past Sunday morning, I snagged the LAST ONE!! (truth be told, had there been more, I would have bought about 4 of them and eaten them all….)

*everything at Chiu Quon is lighter/less dense than you would expect – the coconut tart, egg tart and the buns are all fantastic especially paired with a cup of coffee or tea, and ps: everything is about $1, so don’t be afraid to try them all!

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Chiu Quon Bakery Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Voodoo Doughnut saves the day!

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Voodoo Doughnut is from Portland. I was in Denver. Glazed and Confused is in Denver. It was Monday. Glazed and Confused is closed on Monday. Thank the donut angels that Voodoo is now also in Denver (and open 24/7). And so the story continues…..

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The hype is real. With a rotating donut case (next time I’ll be smarter and take a video), merch plastered on the walls, and a laminated “Top 10” list of best sellers next to the (cash only) register, maybe I was a bit worried that these donuts wouldn’t stand up to all the lore.

Oh but fear not! Not only does Voodoo dazzle with crazy enormous specimens like the cock-n-balls and Tex-Ass challenge (both so so big…. too big? maybe. maybe best to have a three-way with those cock-n-balls), and have exciting flavors like the Bubble (finished with bubblegum dust and a piece of Dubble Bubble) and the Memphis Mafia (a fritter with banana chunks and cinnamon covered in chocolate frosting and peanut butter), they also have the classics: cruellers, old fashioneds and buttermilk bars. Both the crazies and the regs are well-executed with delicious attention to detail (so your grandma doesn’t have to order an Old Dirty Bastard donut to go along with her morning coffee – oh but what if she did?? yesssss). In short, Voodoo is worth a stop.

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Back to Monday: Planes needed to be caught. Breakfast had to be eaten. A difficult decision had to be made.

Decision: one enormous peach fritter, a maple bacon bar (bc breakfast, and bc that bacon was perfect), a Portland cream (pouring one out for the original), a buttermilk bar (hot tip from cashier girl), a maple blunt (good for more than just a photo op!), a chocolate coconut cake (bc chocolate, bc coconut, bc duh), and, but of course, a Voodoo doll (with a pretzel “pin” and raspberry jam guts!).

I’ll be returning for the Mexican hot chocolate doughnut and some dirty snowballs some day, but until the next Denver/Portland trip, I will have my pink box memories to keep me full.

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Voodoo Doughnut Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Sweet Sweet Mandy B’s

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You guys: remember when it was 2002 and the world was just discovering that you didn’t have to be in 3rd grade to profess your love for cupcakes? (nor did you have to be at a 3rd grader’s bday party to eat cupcakes?? however, 1 cupcake IS technically a 3rd grader-sized serving = 1/2 a piece of reg cake, so if you are over age 12, please eat 2 cupcakes. nutritionist’s orders.)

Cupcakes took the dessert world by storm and soon this lil baby cake was gussying itself up in all kinds of crazy gourmet outfits and even getting invited to weddings. Ah but it was not to last because bandwagon jumper-on-ers got gross and lazy and started letting sub-par cakes onto the shelves. (i’m looking at you, mile-high dyed frosting facade. for shame.) Thank god for Dessert Darwinism and the shuttering of poser cupcakeries just looking to cash in on the latest trendy treat. And thank god that the leaders of the cupcake revolution stood the taste test of time, because when you see that glowing cupcake stained glass window, you know you have safely arrived at Sweet Mandy B’s and everything is going to be good.

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Away from the bustling Lincoln Park traffic of honking car horns and stroller gangs, Sweet Mandy B’s offers sugary respite for adults and kids alike. Calming mantras of “eat your dessert first” and “the best things in life are sweet” float overhead, and the cases are stocked with anything anyone could ever want. Seriously.

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Cupcakes, cookies, pies, cakes, bars, puddings, caramel apples, meringues, and more and more. All made with old-fashioned, simple ingredients. All ready to take you back to a time when cupcakes were enjoyed without worry and dessert was celebrated, not calorie-counted. Normally, I shy away from slathers of pastel buttercream, but Sweet Mandy B’s does buttercream right – not overly sugary in itself, and not overly dominant on top of any cake/cookie. Just how buttercream was meant to be!

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Treats to note:

  • the aforementioned cupcakes (any flavor, any color)
  • molasses cookies (iced or not, your choice)
  • lemon meringue cheesecake
  • anything cabinet pudding (kind of like a bread pudding, but less bready. and ask for to be it heated up!)

Along with all the classics, there will probably be a few new creations too. Today, for the sake of dessert exploration, I present Pete’s coconut cloud cookie – which is the fortunate result of a macaroon calling up a meringue for a good time. Ta da!

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Sweet Mandy B's Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato