After a stint as the pastry chef for the Julius Meinl Cafes, Jennifer Templeton decided to stick with what she knew best: mostly sweets, but a few savories as well. Her new bakery GingerSnap Sweets & Such, located in the old Meinl commissary and bakeshop, is now her personal laboratory for any and all things baked.
"Everything I make changes, there's a few things that are staple items but I like to change things regularly and keep it interesting and base it off of, if I find something great, share it with everybody else," said Templeton.
One example: her peanut butter and jelly cake; her answer to the latent cupcake craze.
"I like to make small cakes instead of cupcakes so that they're layered and they have filling and they have frosting, so that every bite you get all of that, as opposed to getting a full bite of frosting and a full bite of cake," she said.
In this case, a yellow cake is split in half, then coated with a layer of raspberry preserves. Topped by the other half, the entire cake is surrounded and engulfed by a peanut butter buttercream.
Other notables from a recent visit: turtle brownies and lots of seasonal touches, like apple walnut cakes. St. Louis-inspired gooey cakes and delicate, layered caramel apple opera cakes. Yet when it came to a chocolate offering, Templeton was initially stumped.
"I needed something chocolate. I wasn't doing anything chocolate for breakfast pastry and I was trying to figure out what to do and I just took some bread dough and threw some chocolate in it and liked how it turned out so I turned it into a Whirlaway," she said.
That pastry is now one of her most popular. It's simply dough that's covered in a thin layer of vanilla custard cream, followed by dark chocolate coins that are carefully laid out among the strips of cut dough. They're then rolled up into spherical domes and baked.
But it's not all sweets here. One of the most surprising items is an excellent rendition of an Upper Michigan staple: the pasty, based on a Cornish or British favorite.
"Traditionally it's a beef stew with root vegetables. Mine change a lot, like everything else in here, so I usually have a meat version and a vegetable version; I'm doing them because they're different," said Templeton.
GingerSnap Sweets & Such
1416 W. Irving Park Rd.