The cupcake boom was alive and well when I was first in Chicago four years ago. There was Sprinkles, Swirlz, Sugar Bliss…and of course, there was Molly’s. I especially love Molly’s. I truly love Molly’s. Molly’s was a five minute walk away from my apartment when I lived in Chicago and I definitely had a love hate relationship with it. I loved it for the little pick-me-ups whenever I needed (or wanted) one, but of course hated that my then expanding waistline was in no small part attributable to my love of the delectable concoctions at Molly’s Cupcakes.
Now, given the plethora of cupcake shops (in stores, trucks and online) in New York City, making a statement about Molly’s Cupcakes being the best in the world is a big deal. But imagine this: a soft and airy chocolate cupcake sponge that would also be fantastic on its own; topped with a thick substantial dark chocolate ganache, sprinkled with butterscotch crisps and peanut butter chips. And the pièce de résistance: a peanut butter surprise in the middle. Yes, the Ron Bennington, Molly’s signature cupcake is center-filled and delicious, as are many of their cupcakes. For that reason, I eat Molly’s Cupcakes with a fork and I don’t care what purists say about using a fork to eat a cupcake or muffin. Also, if you like the light, whipped frosting at a place like Magnolia Bakery, this is probably not a place for you.
My other favourite cupcake flavour was discovered during my last visit to Chicago, when my friend ordered it: the red velvet cupcake with brown butter frosting. The brown butter frosting was aromatic and lightly grainy with sugar bits and a clear winner over my usual cream cheese frosting choice for red velvet cupcakes. People who love choices will have a field day at Molly’s: you can mix and match certain cupcake flavours with different frostings. This option is not available for the filled cupcakes.
I also love the ambience of Molly’s in Chicago. It is brightly lit with vibrantly coloured cushions on bench chairs and two bench swings near the bar, one with a permanent ‘Do not sit’ sign on it. The swing seats are probably the best in the house (although perhaps not the most comfortable) as you can watch the hustle and bustle of the staff making cappuccinos and swirling on the frosting for the mix and match cupcakes. There is also a stand for extra sprinkles and water. The feel (and the bench swings!) is replicated in their only other location in West Village in New York.
Also worth mentioning is my second favorite cupcake store: Georgetown Cupcake. These cupcakes are made more traditionally unfilled but offer a similarly light sponge cake and an intensely rich frosting that is about half the portion of Molly’s. They also have a facebook fan page where they announce a secret flavour of the day and if you are one of the first 100 at the store who say the secret flavour to the staff, you get one of those cupcakes for free!