Cookies — the delightful discs that make children squeal and tired adults not want to strangle an office mate. You can get the portable dessert at grocery stores, along with a laundry list of chemical additives, as well as the mall — but that dough is sitting in a corporate vat. Why not treat yourself to the genuine article: handmade mounds shaped by bakers’ hands and made with fresh, seasonal ingredients.
(Photo Credit: Delightful Pastries's Facebook)

(Photo Credit: Delightful Pastries’s Facebook)

Delightful Pastries
131 N. Clinton St
Chicago, IL 60661
(312) 234-9644
www.delightfulpastries.com

The locations in Old Town, Jefferson Park and the Chicago French Market stock hand-made European style pastries and cookies that rival your granny’s. In fact, your Latina, Italian, Scandinavian, Irish, German or Polish grandmother will think she taught you well when you surprise her with Mexican Wedding Cookies, nutty discs that melt in your mouth; delicate, hand-shaped Viennese Almond Crescents (sans eggs); flaky Kolaczki filled with sweet cheese or fruit;  marzipan layered Italian Rainbow Cookies; or Irish shortbread with pistachio, among the many cookie selections. Mention that Delightful Pastries uses only butter from Wisconsin, exceptional vanilla by Nielson Massey, Callebaut Belgian bittersweet chocolate and flavorful seasonal ingredients from Michigan like dried cranberries and sour cherries.

Vanille Patisserie
2108 N Clark St
Chicago, IL 60614
(773) 868-4574
www.vanillepatisserie.com

Vanille’s handmade Parisian macaroons are created with seasonal ingredients so a carrot cake, hazelnut or Boston Creme may appeal to you in the colder months, then it’s time for lemon and tequila lime at another time of the year. Bakers pay close attention to details so your mango, red velvet, green tea or lavender macaroons will not only taste like heaven but look like a million bucks.  The French confections are so popular that Vanille is launching nationwide shipping for the 2015 holiday season. Commuters can take advantage of the outpost in the Chicago French Market, too.

Swedish Bakery
5348 N Clark St
Chicago, IL 60640
(773) 561-8919
www.swedishbakery.com

According to General Manager Eliza Williamson, two words explain the exceptional satisfaction one gets from Swedish Bakery’s cookies — real butter. “We use the finest ingredients to bake all of our cookies from scratch,” she explains.  The Andersonville bakery, circa the 1920s, offers three varieties: butter, fancy and Swedish, however, there are various permutations of each. For example, there are hazelnut and black & white fancy cookies; butter stars dotted with chocolate or a variety of jams; Swedish cookies include Drommar, Brusselkaka, Marble Brusselkaka, Almond Finger and Spritz. Don’t ask — they’re all sinfully good.

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BAKE
2246 W North Ave
Chicago, IL 60647
(773) 384-7655
www.getbakedchicago.com

Husband and wife pastry chefs Eric and Jennifer Estrella turn out luscious macaroons, chocolate chip cookies, Oreo style layered numbers, classic lemon bars, rich peanut butter, hearty oatmeal raisin and Nutella cookies. Jennifer says, “Our cookies are definitely the best in Chicago! We bake them fresh daily and all of them are from family recipes that I have been making since I was a kid. We take pride in baking our cookies with a lot of love!”

Weber’s Bakery
7055 W. Archer Ave.
Chicago, IL 60638
(773) 586-1234
www.webersbakery.com

Among the signature items coming out of the oven since the 1930s at Weber’s Bakery are the flaky, hand-cut Kolacky made with sour cream, resulting in a particularly tender cookie. Try some in each flavor: pineapple, cheese, apricot, strawberry, raspberry, prune and poppyseed. One of the oldest family-owned retail bakeries in the city, the shop was founded by German immigrants, and today the third generation is baking preservative-free six days a week.

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Jacky Runice has been a columnist with the Daily Herald Chicago since grunge music and flannel was the new black. Her fingers and gray matter have been busy as travel editor of Reunions Magazine; penning a column that was syndicated around the nation via Tribune Media Services. Her work can be found at Examiner.com.