Chicago, Illinois, commonly referred to as the Windy City (though perhaps not for the reason you think) is known for different things depending on the person you talk to. People talk about improv comedy, deep dish pizza, formerly-hopeless love of the Cubs. My parents, who lived there for a couple years before retreating to the south, remember how miserable it was to try and open the car door on winter mornings. And some know Chicago for the way it has imprinted on their belly-memories and forever left their sweet tooths in longing. Here are five things every dessert lover would be remiss to skip in Chicago:
White Chocolate Flan from May St. Cafe
Chef Art Smith, a recipient of the James Beard Award, remembers the white chocolate flan from May St. Cafe as one of the best things he’s ever eaten. (I know this because he was on an episode of The Best Thing I Ever Ate talking about it.) The flan—made of cream cheese, mascarpone and creamy white chocolate—is enough to convert any white chocolate skeptic. “Some of you don’t think white chocolate is chocolate,” Smith says. “But it is chocolate, and it’s really, really delicious.”
Next—Basque Cake at The Bristol
Basque Cake from The Bristol
Chef Amanda Rockman created the Basque cake—made up of “golden-brown exterior and a moist, pillowy inside topped with candied almonds and served with raspberry jam and vanilla bourbon ice cream”—and it became something unforgettable. Don’t miss this icon, which has apparently brought tears of joy.
Next—Cake Shake at Portillo’s
Cake Shake at Portillo’s
Portillo’s, which calls itself the spot for “America’s favorite Italian beef, burgers, salads, Chicago-style hot dogs,” may more likely be associated with meat. But their cake shake—a frozen dessert starring chunks of their signature cake blended with ice cream—is the perfect pairing.
Next—Green Frog Marzipan Cakes from Swedish Bakery
Green Frog Marzipan Cakes from Swedish Bakery
Sometimes it’s fun to play with your food. At least, it’s fun to eat food that looks like you might be able to play with it. This small green frog cake is filled with raspberry buttercream and covered in nutty marzipan. Its appearance may be reminiscent of something you would eat as a child, but its taste is sophisticated—enough for a mention on the Food Network.
Next—Pie from Bang Bang Pie
Pie from Bang Bang Pie
Unsurprisingly it is pie, sweet and (not necessarily) simple, that Bang Bang Pie is famous for. (It’s earned mentions in both Eater Chicago and Thrillist.) Their selection changes with the season, but flavors have included chocolate pecan with a maple filling, lemon meringue on a shortbread crust, coffee custard with vanilla bean cream, blueberry peach, chocolate chess, and Key lime.