At Annie's Culinary Creations, Late-Night Cupcakes but (Hopefully) Not for the Drunks

If this corner on Henderson Avenue is known for anything, it's raucous nightlife. Beauty Bar, Gin Mill, Barcadia and others slather young drinkers with alcohol while playing loud music, night after night. But while the young and drunk bump and grind, and giant Jenga towers tumble under the influence, two ladies just down the strand engage in a more wholesome activity: Baking cupcakes.

Annie's Culinary Creations sits in the same strip as Houndstooth, and while the storefront is quite small, there's a lot going on in the bakery behind the counter. This is where owner Annie Hall assembles her wedding cakes -- an activity that frequently consumes her Friday evenings, long after most other bakers have turned in. The more weddings booked for Saturday, the later she works, which is good for Hall's cash register and great for those who find themselves with a late-night sweet tooth. And whenever Hall is baking, Annie's is open, and her counter is filled with cupcakes.

I should have started this article with an important proclamation. I hate cupcakes. I find a properly baked, triple-layer cake infinitely more appealing than these frou-frou, paper-wrapped bastards. Despite this, I polished off four of delicious creations after an evening meal recently, with minimal help from my friends.

We walked through the door sometime after 9 p.m. and Annie's mother came through the two-way door to deliver our sugary sacrament. I'd tell you her name, but she wouldn't oblige. "I'm mother," was all she would offer.

OK, Mother Cupcake, then.

Mother Cupcake walked us through her offering while I peppered her with questions about the bakery. There are no official hours for this late-night cupcake bonanza. They turn out the lights when the last strip of fondant is glued into place. Unless, of course, the bars start to let out and the drunks fill the streets, prompting Mother Cupcake to draw the blinds and lock the door. Red-eyed cupcake zombies aren't welcomed here.

Still, if you call ahead, they'll tell you how late they'll be open that day, and then your own late-night cupcake adventure can begin. I took home carrot cake, champagne, white chocolate chip and chocolate varieties, which I later painted my face with. They were heavy and moist, and poured into baking parchment molded into tins. They gave a little when you picked them up. They were sumptuous.

And they also have other fans. While we paid for our order an officer emerged from the back of the bakery. I was counting the drinks I'd had before making a doughnut joke, but he beat me to it, then disappeared out the door. Cupcakes: the new drunk food, provided you're not too drunk. Cupcakes: the new doughnut. Cupcakes: The new cop joke.

Annie's Culinary Creations, 1908 N. Henderson Ave., (214) 328-2253, anniesculinarycreations.com

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