If you think dessert is the most important meal of the day, raise your hand. (Oh, good, we’re not alone.) Now get out there and try these four new sweets shops, which just flung open their sugary doors in Chicago and the ‘burbs. From gourmet lollipops to gelato to ginormous candy bars, the treats will have your kids hooked.
photo: Lolli & Pops
Lolli & Pops
What it is: This small family of candy and chocolate stores has just set up shop in the Chicago French Market. Fitting, considering one of their claims to fame is the fact they source sweets from across the world. Let your mouth do the globe-trotting as you dig into chocolate from Madagascar, sourbelts from Spain, sodas from Japan and all matter of yummy indulgences from local artisans. The experience is like paying a visit to an old-world candy shoppe, where the treats are carefully displayed in wooden cabinets, and on glass shelves and marble counters.
What to snap up: The French Market location is particularly strong in truffles (try the strawberry ones), and also hawks everything from amaretto cookies to craft chocolate bars.
photo: Dylan’s Candy Bar
Dylan’s Candy Bar Chicago
What it is: This place has serious buzz — and it’s only beginning. Maybe you’ve heard of its founder, Dylan Lauren, daughter of fashion icon Ralph Lauren and author Ricky Lauren. She’s opened the first Midwest location of her blow-your-mind candy shop in a historic converted museum space in Tribune Tower. So far, the retail area is open, with plans for a full-service cafe and bar opening this spring (they’ll do birthday parties!). Our favorite part of this space is the floor-to-ceiling lollipop tree.
What to snap up: Gummies. Hands down, the gummies. You’ll find all kinds of wild and wonderful varieties, from good ol’ bears to centipedes. It’s also known for chocolate bars and candy bark that give you just the right sugar buzz.
445 N. Michigan Ave.
photo: Frost / Kelly Aiglon
Frost: A Gelato Shop
What it is: There are two things you should know right away about this ice-tastic gelato shop: They make gelato fresh daily in their store and all of the ingredients come straight from Italy. (All of the equipment has been sourced from Italy, too, so you know you’re going to taste the real deal.) It might seem like a chilly time of year to open a gelato shop in the Midwest, but the Naperville location is hopping. The attractive gelato case has dozens of varieties of the cool treat, artfully presented with fresh fruit. Trust us: Your kids won’t be able to peel their eyes away.
What to snap up: If you like to stick to old favorites, try the chocolate gelato (there is also a dietetic chocolate with no sugar added) or, for a fruity twist, the raspberry or lemon sorbet. More adventurous eaters should go for the green tea, panna cotta and rum raisin. Oh, and did we mention the Nutella flavor?
50 S. Main St.
photo: Bon Macaron
What it is: Used to be, you needed an appointment to drop by this neighborhood treasure — the first macaron specialty shop in Chicago. Now, swing by on a designated “Retail Saturday” to ogle the sweets and, of course, buy a few to take home. Upcoming Retail Saturdays are February 14 and 28, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.; more will be announced soon on the shop’s Facebook page. Founder and chef Catherine Cooper is a Chicago native and trained in Paris at Ecole Ferrandi. Her macarons are gluten-free and made with almond meal. Bon Macaron is an actual kitchen, where Catherine makes everything by hand, and it’s fun to take a peek around.
What to snap up: If you haven’t introduced your kiddo yet to the joy of macarons, this is a good place to start. Not only are the sandwich-like cookie treats perfectly sized for tiny hands, but they come in every color of the rainbow. Flavors are another scrumptious story altogether and include dark chocolate, pistachio, salted caramel, PB&J and candy bar.
1407 W. Grand Ave.
What is your favorite spot to stop for dessert? Let us know in the Comments!
— Kelly Aiglon