Sweet of the Week: Italian Ho-Ho at Rosie's West Town Deli
The best part about childhood was snack cakes. The best part about adulthood is being able to eat snack cakes without asking permission first. Or even better, we have the wherewithal to seek out snack cake-inspired desserts that capture the best of both worlds: childhood nostalgia without any of those pesky preservatives that want to kill us. From newfangled Twinkies at the now defunct Angel Food Bakery (RIP) to Hostess-inspired cupcakes at More, Chicago is filled with snack cake nostalgia. The latest lunchbox-friendly dessert I found is the Italian Ho-Ho at Rosie's West Town Deli, a darling modern sandwich shop in Ukrainian Village with a penchant for sandwiches, meats, olives, pan pizza, and Italian desserts both timeworn and contemporary. The Ho-Ho falls handily into the latter.
Nestled next to cannoli and tiramisu, two Italian standbys indicative of any and all Italian delis and bakeries, you'll find something that sets Rosie's West Town Deli apart. Italian Ho-Hos look sorta like a chocolate-covered cannoli, but in fact tastes a helluva lot more like those beloved snack cakes of yore. Beneath the crackly chocolate shell you'll find a custardy, cakey interior erupting with flavor. You'll sink your teeth through layers of cake rolled around a creamy filling, much like classic boxed confections, but fresher and more pronounced, with notes of cherry and pistachio flecked throughout. Each end of the cake is rolled in crushed nuts as well, the perfect exclamation point to punctuate such a dessert.
- Matt Kirouac