The Top Alcoholic & Creative St. Patrick’s Day Desserts

Whether you’re heading to a St. Patrick’s Day potluck or intending to fawn tipsily over a plate of sweetness at the end of your pub crawl, the mission is clear: you need something sweet and St. Patrick’s-themed. Thankfully, some of NYC’s best dessert spots are offering special treats that lovingly combine not just the green theme, but also alcohol. And here they are:

The Beer Cream Puff at Puddin‘: Soda bread-inspired puff with an orange glaze, cherry compote, and filled with pudding soaked in Brooklyn Brewery’s Dry Irish Stout. Info here

The Black & Tan cupcake at Sweet Revenge: Chocolate cake infused with Young’s Double Chocolate Stout, topped with ChocoVine-laden cream cheese frosting. Info here.

The Banana Bread Pudding at Bounce Sporting Club: Topped with butternut squash ice cream and paired with three homemade Jameson shots: banana, eggnog, coquito. Get it Sunday at their Sunday Funday party, info here.

The Irish Chocolate cupcake at Sprinkles: Belgian dark chocolate cake topped with Bailey’s Irish cream cheese frosting. Info here.

The Leprechaun Milkshake at Melt Shop: Green vanilla milkshake topped with four-leaf clover sprinkles. Info here.

The Guinness Chocolate Cupcake at The Windsor: Guinness-infused chocolate cake with Bailey’s buttercream, served in a jar. Info here.

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Photo: UrbanDaddy

Donuts: Chicago’s New Cupcake

Last summer, the donut god came to Chicago in the form of Sprinkles in the city’s Gold Coast area, and hung around through our first bite of Crumbs, which popped up this past winter. The city has no shortage of trendy dessert options, but as a So Cal native, there’s something about the memory of waking up early on Saturday mornings to beat the dawn patrol surfers to the last apple fritter at V.G. Donuts. Suffice to say, I have a soft spot for the hole-y delights, and Chicago does, too, because they keep raining down on our fair city as if from donut heaven.

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The Doughnut Vault, barely two months old, takes me back to my San Diego days. Not because there’s anything beachy about this pint-size spot, but because people actually line up, dozens deep, at 8 in the morning to sample one (or 5) of its many flavors of cakey, yeasty delights. Only early-risers, or their fortunate friends, can indulge in these amazing deep-fried wonders, which come in such varieties as old-fashioned buttermilk, gingerbread and chocolate, vanilla, or chestnut glazed. The Vault, which, true to its name, actually serves donuts out of an old bank vault, opens around 8:30am Tuesday through Friday and 9:30am on Saturdays, closing approximately 90 minutes later when they sell out. Follow them on Twitter to stay in the know.

If you’d rather not wait it out, consider Dirty Betty’s, the weekday morning alter-ego of Lincoln Park’s Cookie Bar. The cash-only spot offers up ten baked varieties, including the newfangled half-donut, a dough-brownie hybrid that’s all but impossible to resist. Or, kick it old-school and hit up Dat Donut, a South Side establishment with a stamp of approval from Bon Appetit, which labeled the shop one of the top-ten donut spots in the country.

Wherever you end up, you’ll see that Chicago is no longer a donut backwater with only insipid, mass-market offerings. We’re gonna need some coffee here, fast.

Cupcake Wars Redux: While Magnolia Was Sleeping, Sprinkles Was Creeping

Well that didn’t take long. A rep from the new Sprinkles bakery in New York just dropped off two dozen BlackBook-branded red velvet cupcakes at our offices, and within ten minutes every one of those bad boys has found its way into our collective bellies. Every one except for this one, that is, which I set aside for myself and will commence munching … now.

When I see a cupcake, I immediately regress back to childhood, when cupcakes emerged at birthday parties and kids ate only the icing because it was the only good part. But these Sprinkles cupcakes are good all the way through, with a juicy, flavorful, spongey cake and cream cheese-based icing that’s just the right amount of sweet. Paired with a cup of unsweetened coffee, it’s the perfect afternoon pick-me-up. Health, shmealth.

Cupcakes have been a thing in New York since Carrie and Miranda sat in front of the West Village’s Magnolia chatting about boys. Weekend lines still wrap around the corner, spurring a slew of imitators, some more successful than others. But Sprinkles represents some serious competition if this dreamy and rapidly-disappearing number on my desk is any indication. As it happens, Owner Candace Nelson is quite the cupcake Yoda, focusing on nothing but cupcakes in her shop and appearing as a judge on the Food Network’s Cupcake Wars.

The shop, located by Bloomingdale’s on Lexington Avenue between 60th and 61st Streets, boasts more than 50 different flavors, including banana, chai latte, and dark chocolate. They offer vegan cupcakes for those who eschew animal products but still like to get down with sugar, and they’re even sensitive enough to have gluten-free versions as well, a fact much appreciated by my colleague Liz, who gazed upon our gluten-filled cupcakes with a mix of envy and sadness.

If this bold entry into the New York cupcake market sets off another frenzied cupcake war, so be it. Send all the fallen soldiers to our offices at 29 E. 19th Street. We’ll give them a home.

Sprinkles Cupcakes New York opens on Friday, May 13.