Back in December, my twelve year old daughter found a coupon for The Cupcake Tour of Chicago in her Christmas stocking (I believe Santa used a groupon). Why did we wait until March to go? Because even the promise of a treat at each stop on this walking tour was not enough to lure Molly out into the cold of our long, long Chicago winter. We waited until the weather warmed up a bit, then scheduled our tour for a sunny March afternoo. Our guide Jason led our group of twenty to five bakeries where we stopped, heard a bit about what made that place special, then enjoyed a small sample treat. Molly brought her friend Catherine and the girls had a great time, their giggles becoming more frequent and louder as their sugar highs increased. Here are the highlights from each stop.
We were offered a choice of salted caramel or red velvet mini cupcakes. The girls loved the dense cake, but please bear in mind that, with the exception of the bacon cupcake at our last stop, the girls loved everything on the tour. Not in the mood for a cupcake? West Town Bakery has plenty of tempting, award winning pastries, for example a beer and pretzel donut stuffed with cookie butter. Jason assured us it was absolutely delicious.
Crumbs Bakery in Water Tower
Crumbs in the largest cupcake chain in the United States with three locations in downtown Chicago. Crumbs offers more types of cupcakes (50-75 different varieties each day) and bakes their treats at offsite at a central location. For our sample, Jason set out a try of mini-cupcakes, which were gone in a flash. The girls had the vanilla and M&M cupcakes and loved them, declaring that they had plenty of frosting and a light, fluffy cake.
We walked from Water Tower over to L’appetito by the John Hancock building. It was time for gelato. The girls had fifteen flavors to choose from and were given generous samples of Burnt Caramel and Chocolate (described by my little counisseurs as “super chocolately) gelato.
If you are a fan of Cupcake Wars, you know all about Sprinkles. There was a huge line outside of the store, but Jason brought our samples of Lemon Meringue and Raspberry Vanilla mini cupcakes to us. Cupcakes are baked fresh on-site every day.
The puff of meringue was a sweet, sticky compliment to the dense lemon cake. The raspberry Italian buttercream was light and fruity. The highlight of Sprinkles was their vending machine. This large pink machine dispenses holds 300 cupcakes. Choose your flavor, slide your credit card, then open a tiny hot pink door to find your little brown-boxed cupcake inside.
There is only one More Cupcakes and this elegant store was my personal favorite. Cupcakes float on tall glass sheves. As with Sprinkles, their cupcakes are baked on-site. More's signature dessert is a sophisticated take on a Hostess Cupcake - dark chocolate cake, creamy filling, chocolate ganache. In addition to the array of sweet treatss, More offers savory and cocktail inspired cakes as well. For their cocktail cupcakes, they incorporate alcohol into the buttercream
The girls turned their nose up at the BLT cupcakes (bacon bits dotted the mini-cakes which were topped with ranch buttercream and sliced cherry tomatoes), but it was very good. Sweet samples included salted caramel and double chocolate – both amazing. The salted caramel cake had a small dollop of golden, sweet caramel just under the mound of silky caramel Italian buttercream.