2215 E. NORTH AVE., 3948 N. MARYLAND AVE. | $2.25-$7
Blooming Lotus Bakery’s raison d’être is to craft gluten-free baked goods that are tender, rich, flavorful and satisfying. That used to be a rarity. But Blooming Lotus has cracked the code on texture, often the bane of gluten-free sweets (chewy cookies; cakes that are light and tender, not heavy and tough). And this bakery has an audience – so much so that it recently opened a second location in Shorewood to complement its original East Side spot. Try the whoopie pies (rotating flavors), cupcakes and specialty bars like tiramisu.
2. Sugar Cube
Sugar Cube’s doughnuts are hip to be square. With four corners and a square “hole” in the middle, these vegan, yeast-raised pastries have been available weekends at On the Bus in the Milwaukee Public Market and at Bayshore Town Center. The tender, yeasty marvels with a sweet, come-hither aroma have been selling out in a flash, so I had to pre-order a four pack for pick-up at On the Bus to get my mitts on them. Flavors change monthly and range from simple, sensational glazed to Nutella, with a chocolate hazelnut glaze and crushed hazelnuts.
3840 N. FRATNEY ST. | $8-$26
Burke’s Candy & Ingredients is a 92-year-old, family-run legend. All of their confections are made in the factory/shop on North Fratney Street in Riverwest. Burke’s is especially known for divine butter toffee and buttery chocolate-dipped caramels, but the mint meltaways and Flying Ts (aka turtles) are also outstanding. Put together a box of these treasures for your sweetie.