Food on a stick is an instant win for kids — especially when it’s cake. Drop the silverware and pick up a cake pop. These three-bite wonders are easily transportable, totally flavorful and, for those of us that care, nearly half the calories of a five-layer. Follow us around these six top spots for cake pops and get your nibble on.
Sugar Bliss Cake Boutique
Why We’re Tempted: When Le Cordon Blue Patisserie graduate Teresa Ging opened up shop, she spent eight months testing cupcake flavors. We’re happy to see her diligence paid off. With a storefront in the Loop, Ging offers what very few bakeries can: delicious cakes (she specializes in cake pops, cupcakes and mini six-inch cakes) and easy access (she’ll deliver via courier if you’re really antsy).
The Pops: Bakery shelves are lined with countless cake pop variations inspired by the plethora of cupcakes on offer. Flavors include the ingenious chocolate-covered strawberry and vanilla coconut, along with fan favorites like cinnamon carrot and rocky road. Stop in for a token pop ($2.50) or order a bunch ($28/dozen). Sugar Bliss will do gift boxes and cake pop bouquets for your nearest and dearest.
115 N. Wabash St.
Alliance Bakery & Cafe
Why We’re Tempted: Chef Peter Rios makes your head spin with the decadent creations served at this sweet hangout. Inspired by the years he spent creating signature desserts for the Art Institute of Chicago and the Sofitel and Fairmont hotels, he now has a big neighborhood following. Pick up cakes, cookies, croissants, macaroons and more. And be sure to check out the elaborate seasonal window displays.
The Pops: Sold in-house daily and via custom orders, Alliance’s cake pops come in flavors like chocolate, vanilla, red velvet, coconut and hazelnut, along with seasonal options such as pumpkin spice. They’re available in any shape, color or flavor for custom orders. Noticeably larger than the average pop, they’re sold individually ($2.50/each) and are wrapped in cellophane for the trip home — or at the very least, the trip to your car.
1736 W. Division St.
Lizzie’s Bake Shoppe
Why We’re Tempted: Elizabeth Isaacs, a mom of three and former apprentice at Food and Wine and The Food Network, promises a peanut- and tree nut-free assortment — something she was determined to offer after seeing so many of her children’s friends affected by allergies. With a kid-centric focus (evident in the formica tables, vibrant paintings by Sara Solomon, and friendly and approachable vibe), the bakery is colorful kitsch at its best.
The Pops: While Lizzie’s sells cake pops on a stick, it’s best known for “cruffles” — one-bite desserts without a stick. Thankfully, any cake pop can be made from a cruffle creation, which includes s’mores, cookie dough, caramel, birthday cake and blueberry buckle, to name a few. This fall, expect French apple pie and pumpkin to go with your spiced apple cider. Pops are $1.99 each and $3.50 for custom shapes.
2136 W. Chicago Ave.
Baked the Bakery
Why We’re Tempted: Opened in December 2012 by Pure Kitchen Catering, Baked the Bakery is the Willy Wonka of cake pops — meaning it’s as colorful and creative as they come. Of course it doesn’t hurt that it specializes in other fancy treats; we recently spotted strawberry St. Germain macaroons and matcha tea truffles.
The Pops: Flavors are endless. Indulge in chocolate peanut butter cookie and apple cinnamon, or custom flavors like key lime, Fruit Loops, and peanut butter and jelly. The variety stands out, but decorations are minimal — simple nuts or drizzles are the most embellishments you’ll find. Pops are $3.25 each or $39 per dozen.
451 N. Elizabeth St.
Bent Fork Bakery
Why We’re Tempted: This small-batch bakery is known for its handmade goodies — all sweet, no savory — made entirely with real butter. Owners Mike and Liz Bearwald bake each item daily from scratch, be it pies, cookies, cakes or throwbacks like snowballs and Ho-Hos. What was once a quaint, little bakery nestled in Highwood is now a full-blown sensation that includes a cafe and make-your-own s’mores bar.
The Pops: Your sweet tooth will appreciate classics like yellow and chocolate cake dipped in chocolate with sprinkles. But you’ll really beg for the custom concoctions. Imagine lemon, strawberry and carrot cake in the shape of flowers, monkeys, dogs, cats, mummies and pumpkins. Pops are $1.50 each and $18 per dozen.
335 Waukegan Ave.
Why It’s Tempting: As the lines can attest, Kirschbaum’s is the place to be on a Saturday morning in the western ‘burbs. Opened in 1953 by Lester and Cele Kirschbaum, the bakery is now run by their third-generation grandkids. It’s the kind of place that you dream about long after you’ve left. And no wonder: It has sumptuous cake pops, Italian butter cookies, coffee cakes, peanut brittle, donuts, streussels and smiley face cookies that will have your kid grinning ear to ear.
The Pops: Made from a signature cake recipe and available only in chocolate flavor, Kirschbaum’s pops are classics. Poured over with chocolate or white chocolate, they’re decorated with seasonal sprinkles (you’ll find orange and brown this fall) for a homemade look. Custom orders can be taken. Just don’t ask for shapes; you can choose your sprinkles but that’s about it. Pops are $1.89 each or $1.99 with custom sprinkles.
825 Burlington Ave.
What is your favorite local bakery? Let us know in the Comments section below.
— Taryn Bickley
Photos: Courtesy of Sugar Bliss Cake Boutique, Lizzie’s Bake Shoppe, Bent Fork Bakery