Guest blog post: Amalie’s local fixes

Local writer/blogger Amalie Drury’s guest post takes the carb-overload into high-gear, but it was too mouth-watering not to post immediately after she sent it in. After correctly guessing a Mystery glitz post a couple months ago, she decided to highlight her top five fave fixes around town and even supplied pics of each! She had me at Brett’s fudge brownie and Zodiac popover rolls, and the rest of the treats I have yet to try.. deliciousness ensues below…

Dear Elizabites readers,

Many millennia ago, I was the winner of a guest blog entry on Elizabites. Finally, after stretching my #1 talent (procrastination) to astonishing limits of acceptability, I have produced the text.

I don’t know what took me so long. My chosen topic has been a passion since the days when my mother taught me that the best snack after a grueling Jazzercise class is a mixed mini dozen from My Favorite Muffin. The most essential item on any grocery list is a bag of (gourmet) chocolate chips. And if you’re going to all the trouble of making hot chocolate on a snowy afternoon, please, put away the Hershey’s. Bring on the Droste.

In my family, we are chocolate super-snobs. Cookie monsters. Sugar speed freaks. I was worried when I moved to Chicago eight years ago, as it’s a city known more for hunks of meat than delectable sweet treats. But when I realized there was a chocolate factory mere blocks from my office and I would be breathing cocoa powder as a way of life, I knew this really was my kind of town. And after a trillion calories’ worth of trial and error, I’ve nailed down a list of my favorite fixes (in no particular order):

Brett's Kitchen fudge brownie

Brett's Kitchen fudge brownie

1. Brownies from Brett’s Kitchen in River North. Available only on Fridays, they are tall, cakey and liberally iced, with a smattering of walnuts for intermittent crunch. Take one home in a white paper bag, microwave for 13 seconds, get out a fancy fork, and turn on a Gossip Girl rerun. Yummm. Yum.
Swirlz bittersweet chocolate

Swirlz bittersweet chocolate

2. Bittersweet chocolate cupcakes from Swirlz in Lincoln Park. Moist chocolate cake, light-as-air chocolate buttercream frosting, and a few crispy tendrils sprinkled on top…they are, I assert, the best of the trendy cupcakes.
Zodiac Room popover roll

Zodiac Room popover roll

3. Popovers at The Zodiac, Neiman Marcus, Michigan Avenue. At this ladies-who-lunch spot, they know their crowd well. Forget crusty, mouth-scraping table bread. The Zodiac passes out hot popovers—light, flaky pastries that look like exploded muffins—with silky, spreadable strawberry butter on the side. You will ask for another. I guarantee it.
Sepia cookies (photo by Martha Williams)

Sepia cookies (photo by Martha Williams)

4. Chocolate chip cookies at Sepia. There are specific qualities I require in a chocolate chip cookie, perhaps my favorite food on Earth. A certain not-too-weighty density, the perfect level of doneness, discernable hints of brown sugar and salt, slightly crisp edges, and chips that remain melty at all times. The pastry chef at Sepia only rolls hers out at lunchtime (call ahead to find out when), but They. Are. Freaking. Fantastic. Seriously, perfection.
Vosges caramel marshmallows

Vosges caramel marshmallows

5. Vosges Haut-Chocolate caramel marshmallows. Vosges is a Chicago-based company helmed by the lovely Katrina Markoff, and their packaging alone is enough to induce bliss (purple satin bows!). The items in question—vanilla bean marshmallows topped with caramel, surrounded by dark chocolate and sprinkled with toffee—are impossible to resist. Luckily, at $27 for a box of nine, they are a once-in-a-while situation. Try them if you know what’s good for you.

If you ingest one of these things just because I said so, I hope it’s everything you hoped for and more. In fact, tell me about it sometime.

Extra-sweetly yours,

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