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Cupcake Crawl

From their humble beginnings at children's birthday party to their recent dominance of the gourmet bakery scene, cupcakes are always a welcome addition to any festivity.  Who can resist a dessert that fits perfectly in your hand, comes in all sorts of delish flavors, and reminds you of a more wholesome, innocent era?  Without further ado, let's embark upon our calorie-filled cupcake crawl!  Sorry, I have already reserved a wheelbarrow to roll me home after our indulgent journey, so at the end of this sugar-infused excursion, you're on your own.

1.  Alliance Bakery
     1736 W. Division
     (773) 278-0366

One of Wicker Park's most loved landmarks, the Alliance Bakery has been cranking out scrumptious desserts since the 1920's.  The blue line or 70 Division bus will put you within striking distance of this cupcake heaven, where a cozy storefront full of baked goodness greets you.  Cupcakes here are delightfully whimsical; prepare to enjoy sweets such as bananacake topped with whipped cream cheese frosting topped with milk chocolate shavings or passionfruit filled with meringue frosting.  Prices are between $3 and $3.75 depending on flavor and filling.  Be sure to take your cupcake stash to the next door lounge where you can devour them while people watching as you gaze onto Division.  Note that the people walking by are not eating cupcakes and you are.  Ha ha!

2.  The Goddess and Grocer
     1646 N Damen
     (773) 342-3200

Our crawl now heads west to Damen and then north of the main intersection to arrive at The Goddess and Grocer, a darling deli and bakery in the heart of the neighborhood.  The cupcake offerings here are simple and satisfying:  chocolate and vanilla with buttercream frosting, or red velvet with creamcheese frosting.  Other flavors of the "Goddess Gourmet cupcake" change at whim -- it's like a little cupcake mystery!  The red velvets are rich and heavy and moist and dense and the frosting is gooey and not too sweet and...oh, pardon, did you say something to me?  My red velvet reverie overtook my senses for a second there. Cupcakes are priced at two minis for $3.75, or anywhere between $3 and $3.50 for the larger sizes or more premium flavors.
3.  Milk and Honey
     1920 W Division
     (773) 395-9434

Now that more cupcakes have been put down, make your way back south on Damen until you arrive at Division.  Go juuuust a block east and head into Milk and Honey. A bustling space with open floor cafe seating, this neighborhood spot is a perfect go-to for all sorts of decadent baked goods. Cupcake flavors here change often and range from the drool-worthy devil's food with Nutella cream cheese frosting to the exotic match green tea with vanilla bean frosting.  (In case anyone has read this far, OMG NUTELLA CREAM CHEESE FROSTING.)  Customers can choose size of cupcakes --small for $1.25/large for $2.75 -- and further indulge in any number of diet-killing coffee cakes, muffins, and breads.

Copyright 2011. Written by Stephanie Sack, owner of vive la femme, a Bucktown-based agency dedicated to colorful culture, exceptional events, and sparkling marketing for Chicago's small businesses.  Oh, and she is also a plus-size fashion expert, personal stylist, and curvy closet remixer.