If the all-too-vague "pumpkin spice" can monopolize autumn, then cinnamon deserves its own time in the spotlight this winter. And rightfully so, the wonderfully heady, sugar-friendly spice is front-and-center on a number of unique pastries and desserts this season in Chicago.
While trend-spotting foodies lost their minds over Cronuts last year, the Baker Miller crew were quietly dreaming up something even better. Now featured prominently at their Lincoln Square cafe and bakeshop, the "Doughboy" is like a carb-tastic hybrid of doughnut-meets-muffin. It sounds heavy and excessive, but these things are surprisingly light, impossibly fluffy, and all too easy to wolf down with a cup of coffee in the morning. Among the flavors on hand is the cinnamon toast Doughboy, a muffin-sized dome of dough that tastes like a bowl of Cinnamon Toast Crunch.
When one form of cinnamon simply won't do, head to Sprinkles and order the triple-cinnamon cupcake. The most cinnamon-y sweets in Chicago right now are very likely at this Gold Coast cupcake shop, where the spice takes top billing in more than one menu item. Sure there's the cinnamon sugar cupcake, but that's really more like an unfrosted muffin, made with a lightly spiced buttermilk cake and a dome of cinnamon-sugar. What you're really after here is that triple cinnamon. It's a cinnamon-spiced cake with cinnamon-cream cheese frosting and a generous dusting of cinnamon-sugar. If that's not enough, the popular carrot cupcakes also have cinnamon-cream cheese frosting.
Cinnamon and doughnuts go together like peanut butter and jelly. Or more aptly, like apples and fritters. One of the current seasonal specials at Firecakes Donuts is the wildly popular apple-cinnamon fritter, a tender knot of toothsome apple morsels woven together with fluffy fried dough.
If you'd like to drink your cinnamon, newly opened dumpling-centric Packed in Hyde Park has a unique offering on hand this season. One of the special beverages on-tap is an exclusive offering from the West Loop's Harvest Juicery, a wintry rendition of Meyer lemonade made with vanilla bean and cinnamon.