I met Pam (one of the owners of Swirlz) at a Glossed and Found event earlier this summer and naturally the conversation turned to food. When I found out she was apart of Swirlz I asked her a million questions about her cupcakes. The creative process that Swirlz goes through (over 500 flavors and counting) is very interesting. They encourage all their staff members to actively come up and share their ideas. I thought I was dreaming when Pam invited me to a private tasting for some new flavors they were putting together with Pinnacle Vodka!
I set up a time to come in with Jamie, manager of Social Media and Events, and anxiously awaited the tasting. I “managed” to find a friend to come with me and we headed to the Lincoln Park shop. Warm and inviting is how I would describe the vibe just like Pam and Jamie.
Jamie walked us through the Swirlz history (Chicago’s oldest “All Cupcake” shop) and how the day-to-day operations run. Over 90% of the ingredients are made in-house and on site fresh daily. They make morning deliveries to Whole Foods as well as catered events. Making the cupcakes fresh daily ensures you won’t get a dried out product that I am sure you have experienced before. Using quality ingredients keeps the cakes from tasting greasy or too heavy. They also have at least one gluten-free option every day.
Jamie gave us A LOT of cupcakes to try. They were all exceptionally good but I am going to focus on my favorites. Swirlz does the staples as well or better than everyone else: red velvet and vanilla. But they also do their unique creations even better so if you want something different this is your place.
Banana Nutella – Gluten-free banana cake, layer of Nutella (chocolate-hazelnut), Nutella buttercream (chocolate-hazelnut). What can I say, obviously anything with Nutella is going to be good but this exceeded my expectations. Luscious (I hate the word moist so I won’t be using that) and creamy. You won’t go wrong with this one.
Limoncello – This was my favorite cupcake of the bunch. I am a Limoncello fan but that doesn’t necessarily translate into a good cupcake. This was heaven. The lemon curd inside was mixed with the vodka and there was a hint of vodka in the frosting. After I took my first bite I said to my friend that it almost tasted light. The lemon was refreshing almost lemon zesty. I’m pretty sure I could have eaten about 5 of them (they were mini-cupcakes!). I still think about that cupcake to this day.
Cherry Chip – Pinnacle vodka creation, cherries soaked in vodka, need I say more? This was a veeery close second to the Limoncello. There was the perfect balance of vodka, sweetness and tartness of the cherries.
Drumstick – Malted buttermilk cake, layer of chocolate peanut crunch, vanilla buttercream dipped in praline chocolate glaze. This cupcake was not apart of the tasting but Jamie brought after he found out this was the first cupcake I had at Swirlz. When I am in the mood for chocolate this is the go-to cupcake. It’s the Swirlz take on the drumstick ice-cream cone and it just may be better than the real thing. Crunchy outside before you hit the buttercream and cake.
A huge thank you for their time and hospitality to Pam and Jamie. Swirlz hosts tastings so go and try for yourself, you won’t regret it!