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As I mentioned last week, Chicago has quite the selection of savory options, especially of the comfort food persuasion, but they also have a plethora of options for the sweet tooth! One such option is Smash Cake, a bakery & party spot from the minds behind the Bleeding Heart Bakery. As always with pastry chef & owner Michelle Garcia involved, the decor is fun & eclectic, the pastries are all organic & the vegan options are plentiful. We decided to go with a Blueberry Tea Cake with a delicate & delicious crumble top, a deep chocolaty Brownie flecked with Walnuts, & a towering piece of Chocolate Cake with Peanut Butter frosting, that was sadly a bit dried out. That being said, Smash Cake is a nice spot to hit if your in the adorable neighborhood is resides in!
Another fun option is iCream, home of ice cream made utilizing molecular gastronomy! First, you pick a base (soy for the vegans), then a flavor, a mix-in, & a topping. They take your combination, add it to a Kitchenaid Mixer, then next thing you know fog is billowing around the mixer as the liquid nitrogen kicks in & freezes your concoction. I went for Caramel ice cream, with Bananas as a mix-in, & Chocolate sauce. One issue I ran in to was they just threw the bananas on top, so when I asked them why it was called a "mix-in" but was thrown on top, they offered to mix it in for me, which resulted in weird gummy chunks of banana & all of my chocolate sauce mixing in & ruining my caramel ice cream! Oh well, next time I'll make sure they get it right!
A new option in Chicago comes from a company called Glazed Donuts, purveyors of unique cake donuts, available in locations throughout the city. Most of the flavors are vegan & their mailing list let's you know what's in store for you weekly, so you can get your donut fix when needed. Natalie from Bake & Destroy & I had the chance to try Mexican Hot Chocolate & the Juniper Spice Cornmeal Orange at Bite Cafe, where the donuts are made. We made a video of us giving the low down on them, so check it out!
Have I mentioned here that I love potlucks? Of course I have! While I was in Chicago, one of the coolest potlucks came together, a mini food party! It's just like it sounds, everyone makes miniature versions of food for everyone to share! The culinary skills of this potluck crew was impressive & we enjoyed Reubens, BLTs, Pizza, Twice Baked Potatoes, Corn Dogs, and two of the best things I've ever eaten, vegan Chicken & Waffles, & Mexican Pizzas, ala Taco Bell, all miniature, of course! On the sweet side was mini versions of Root Beer floats with Temptation ice cream, Strawberry Shortcake Trifles, Coconut Cream Pies, Wedding Cakes, Fruit Pies, Black and White Cookies, & S'mores Pies topped with Dandies Marshmallows & toasted with a torch! One would think smaller portions would reduce your food consumption, but I can safely say everything was so amazing, it was far too easy to justify "just one more" of just about everything!
One final sweet I ate in Chicago was something I have been dreaming of for years. During the holidays, my family always buys an assortment of chocolates from See's Candies. Everyone in my family knew the Scotchmallow, a thick layer of caramel, topped with honey marshmallow, & coated in semi-sweet chocolate was MINE or I would bite your fingers off. Obviously, that hasn't been the case for quite some time, but when I mentioned this to my friend Megan, she set out to veganize this treat. JACKPOT! Using her killer caramel recipe, & Dandies marshmallows turned in to a thicker marshmallow cream, she filled cups with semi-sweet chocolate & the layers of perfection, & churned out a seriously amazing replica! It took all my power not to hoard each & everyone one & it's safe to say I ate more than my fair share of these amazing morsels!
Chicago is a fabulous city for vegans & I can't wait to get back there! If you're considering checking it out, stop resisting & go check it out!