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Chicago’s Boozy New Dessert Trend

LET ME DRINK CAKE: From Jameson-infused ice cream to chocolate rum balls, these alcohol-laced sweets are the latest trend in dining.

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How do you make the pedestrian chocolate mousse or sponge cake stand out on a menu? For pastry chefs all over town, the answer is simple: throw in a splash of alcohol, which instantly creates a whole new subtext for dessert.

I got to wondering just how stiff these liquor-laced sweets really are. Is it possible to get a buzz from a crème de menthe brûlée? The legal blood alcohol content limit in Illinois is .08 percent, and I weigh 95 pounds dripping wet, so I figured I was the perfect candidate to toss back some tarts. Breathalyzer in purse, I made the rounds of boozy desserts, testing my blood alcohol level immediately after my last bite of each one—admittedly not the most accurate reading, but close enough. See the sobering results below, from mildest to booziest.

Vanilla panna cotta

151 W. Adams St., 312-660-8866
Dessert: Vanilla panna cotta with prosecco-marinated stone fruits, peach purée, and honey ($9)
Peaches and plums are sealed overnight in vacuum bags with prosecco, honey, and thyme. The dish is beautifully composed but minimally boozy. Sous chef James Chilton says he didn’t want too much of an alcohol taste. Each scoop of fruit has a tart and fizzy prosecco flavor, balanced by a smooth, kid-friendly panna cotta. 
Blood alcohol level: .04 (The legal limit is .08)
Verdict: The equivalent of only a couple of sips. You could practically feed this to toddlers.

NEXT: Cape Cod Room’s bread pudding »


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