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Zayna Bakes
Anatomy lesson: the inside of a cuffin.

We?re suckers for a sweet love story, and this year has been full of them. First, the doughnut met the croissant. Then, the cake met the truffle. Finally, in a fairy-tale pairing that ranks up there with Darcy and Elizabeth, the cookie has united with the muffin.

The ?cuffin? is the accidental creation of Zayna Salloum, a Chicago woman who cultivated a culinary obsession while working in ad sales at the Food Network and Groupon. ??

While whipping up a batch of cookies one day, Salloum ran out of flat baking sheets and instead poured her remaining dough into a muffin tin. A new dessert was born. ??

We tracked down a box of six Zayna Bakes cuffins ($12) in the bakery at the new Old Town grocery store Plum Market, Salloum?s only retail location thus far. (She also takes catering orders for eight dozen cuffins or more; prices start at $160.)

??They are, in a word, addictive. The outside of the cookies-and-cream cuffin we tried was crumbly, with a satisfying muffin-top crunch. Inside it was like a cakey version of a chocolate brownie, with a dab of cream-cheese icing for textural contrast. 

Cupcakes, you?ve been warned.

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