Don't Try This at Home

The most extravagant cookies in the Twin Cities revealed, devoured

When I was growing up, the idea of buying a cute pink sugar-iced butterfly cookie from a bakery was roughly analogous to the idea of punching a small, club-footed child, taking his money, ripping it up, setting it aflame, and then, in the light of the flickering cash fire, jumping up and down on his whimpering, collapsed body. "What are you, a Rockefeller?" my grandma would mutter, dragging me past the bakery window on our way home to ketchup sandwiches. Thus, I conceived a lifelong idea of Rockefellers, gathered in the marble atrium, lolling on brocade couches, wearing silk top hats, delicately eating cookies shaped like yellow duckies.

I bring this up because I found myself at an all-town garage sale in rural Minnesota a few weeks ago, one of those garage sales that makes you want to crawl into a warm bath with a hot razor. Country Crock tubs lassoed together with rubber bands for only a quarter. Decks of playing cards, nearly intact, for a nickel. Broken things made of plastic and dirt. Threadbare baby clothes from Wal-Mart were as countless as raindrops. My sweetie took one look at this and went to another house to get me a barbecue sandwich. It consisted of a big, sweet bun graced with something from a Crock-Pot, something made mainly of rice and ketchup, with some meat and onions.

When my darling brought it to me, he explained how the woman had placed a ladleful of the mixture on the bun, and then, thinking better of it, scraped it off, and added less. Weighed it thoughtfully in one hand, added more, and then removed it again. The end result was a very meager rice and ketchup sandwich on white bread, which was very much like the ketchup sandwiches we used to have after school at my Grandma Kay's house, where we did our homework beside the window before the sun went down because lights weren't free. Memories flooded back.

Monster cookies: St. Paul's Finnish Bistro's eye-popping pastry case
Allen Beaulieu
Monster cookies: St. Paul's Finnish Bistro's eye-popping pastry case

Location Info

Map

A Piece Of Cake

485 Selby Ave.
St. Paul, MN 55102

Category: Restaurant > Bakery

Region: St. Paul (Downtown)

If I were a normal person, I would probably add some contact information here on how you can help to alleviate rural poverty. Instead, I came back to the Twin Cities, and I went to 18 bakeries looking for fancy cookies. Hell-bent on throwing my money away, setting it afire, and otherwise giving the bird to ketchup sandwiches, for which I have no nostalgia whatsoever.

So, what exactly do I mean by a fancy cookie? I mean the kind of cookie you're not going to make at home, because it's too difficult. I mean the kind of cookie that is definitely not a plain old lumpy cookie, like an oatmeal-raisin, or a good old chocolate-chip--which are wonderful, but lack that element of monstrous decadence and corruption that can, in perhaps only one or two bites, turn an innocent child into a rapacious beast. I mean the kind of cookie you eat in a marble atrium while Rome burns. Did I find it? Boy howdy, did I, plus lots more. So, without further ado, the best places for fancy, fancy, fancy cookies in the Twin Cities.

 

A PIECE OF CAKE

Do you know someone whose favorite word is cute, someone who likes ribbons, bows, sparkles, kittens, ponies, tiaras, and ballerinas? Someone who considers a pink tulle tutu, in shades of both flamingo and bubblegum, not merely the frosting of life, but the very stuff of it? If so, run, don't walk, to A Piece of Cake, the most whimsical of all Twin Cities bakeries, and buy that certain someone something that will make her twirl around holding her skirts while swooning and yelping, "So cute!"

Located in Crocus Hill, this wee bakery is as light and clean as a brand-new playhouse, and stocked with so many cute, cute, cute little treats that you feel like there might be a secret door somewhere leading to Barbie's Dream House. My favorite of their offerings are the "melt-aways," round little white balls of butter cookie wearing festive little hats of white icing topped with bright pink, blue, or orange sugar; they look like cheerful little fantasy creatures, ready to roll off to an Easter picnic. Unlike most jaw-droppingly adorable cookies, however, A Piece of Cake's melt-aways are also very tasty; they literally do seem to melt in the mouth in a pouf of butter and giggles.

When I visited A Piece of Cake, they also had some enchanting sandwich cookies that looked exactly like wee slices of watermelon. They were hot pink, with chocolate-chip seeds and a dark green sugar rind. So cute. Parents with girly daughters, fellows with girly sweethearts, attend: If you've got 85 cents for a melt-away, you will really knock your girly-girl's bright-pink socks off with the gift of a few of these sweetie-pies. East Coasters, please note: A Piece of Cake also sells black and white cookies ($2), those huge half-chocolate, half-white iced cookies found in all East Coast delicatessens. I personally have never been a fan of these super-sweet monsters, but I tried one from A Piece of Cake and it was exactly how it's supposed to be, so, if you care, now you know. (A PIECE OF CAKE, 485 Selby Ave., St Paul, 651.846.0016; www.apieceofcakebakery.net)

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