Go ahead, ignore those no-sugar/no-white flour New Year's resolutions.
Cocoa & Fig baker Laurie Pyle makes magic with butter and sugar (and chocolate) on a daily basis. Her diet-busting repertoire includes decadent brownielike bouchons, meticulously crafted sandwich cookies (try Pyle's gluten-free version of the Oreo), mood-altering cake lollipops and lovely cupcakes. Oh, and one of the better chocolate-chunk cookies in the seven-county metro area.
651 Nicollet Mall, Mpls., 612-333-1485; and 6807 York Av. S., Edina, 952-926-2764, cocoaandfig.com
Although Cupcake recently shuttered its original Prospect Park location (and its cute Snelling and Selby shop in St. Paul), its popular Mall of America and Eagan locations remain the places for clever, carefully prepared cupcakes of all stripes; don't miss the "Betty Crocker," a basic, beautifully made yellow cake with a lavish swirl of pink icing and a flurry of colorful sprinkles. There are gluten-free and vegan options, too, and baker/owner Kevin VanDeraa also turns out a host of other sweets, including a smile-inducing selection of French macarons.
W384 West Market, Mall of America, Bloomington, 612-760-1200; and 1565 Cliff Road, Eagan, 651-340-6214, cup-cake.com
At Empire Coffee & Pastry, the Sisters Kelsch have it covered, and then some. Chrissy has the coffee program down cold, and baker Amy accentuates the shop's a.m. destination credentials with spectacular bacon/green-onion muffins, buttery coffee cakes, flaky biscuits filled with Cheddar and thick slices of ham, and heavenly quiche in an ever-changing variety of fillings. Drop by in the afternoon for first-rate cookies, bars and pie. Oh, those pies.
451 NE. Stinson Blvd., Mpls., 612-331-3877, empireminneapolis.com
Honey and Rye Bakehouse baker/owner Anne Andrus finds inspiration in her mother's and grandmother's well-worn cookbooks, transforming home-baked favorites with her pastry chef know-how. The brownies? Spectacular. Ditto the chocolate cream pie, and the well-made scones. Two thumbs up on the savory bread pudding, and the beautiful croissants (almond, sigh) speak for themselves. Drop in Sunday, when Andrus shows off her pretzel-making skills.
4501 Excelsior Blvd., St. Louis Park, 612-844-2555, honey-and-rye.com