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Can’t top Gigi’s Cupcakes

By Jennifer Christman

This article was published November 15, 2012 at 4:05 a.m.

cupcakes-are-tempting-in-display-cases-at-gigis-cupcakes

Cupcakes are tempting in display cases at Gigi’s Cupcakes.

Gigi's Cupcakes

Gigi’s Cupcakes, a Nashville, Tenn.-based chain, recently opened its first Arkansas store at the Park Avenue shopping center, 416 S. University Ave., Little Rock. (By Lisa Burnett)
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— Oh em gee! We have a Gigi’s Cupcakes location!

Cupcake aficionados in central Arkansas have drooled for the day that we’d have a bakery specializing in cupcakes.

Uh, well another bakery specializing in cupcakes. We already have several (and at the rate they’re opening, they could one day hope to outnumber frozen yogurt outlets).

But can there be such a thing as too many cupcakes? Gee whiz, no! (Now, there might be such a thing as too much icing. More on that to come.)

The Little Rock Gigi’s Cupcakes, open now in the Park Avenue shopping center (the Target center — between Radio Shack and the Carter’s kids clothing store), is part of the country’s largest cupcake chain founded by Gigi Butler in Nashville, Tenn., which has expanded to 23 states. And more stores are planned, including one expected to open within the next month at 12800 Chenal Parkway.

What’s on the menu: cupcakes. More cupcakes. And drinks (coffee, milk, apple juice, soda and bottled water). And a few mini cheesecakes. And still more cupcakes.

Some 30 cupcake flavors appear on the full fall/winter 2012-13 menu, with about a dozen available each day. Cost is $3.25 each, $2.75 each per dozen.

One can have a seat at a few outdoor tables, two indoor tables (dressed with faux pink gerbera daisies) or at a counter lining the front windows. But most people get their treasures to go — in girlie greenbrown-and-pink packages that resemble gift boxes and matching shopping bags.

These are no box-of-cakemix-and-can-of-frosting cupcakes. Baked, iced and blinged-out on-site (Miss Princess cupcake: “white cake with fresh strawberries baked in, topped with a cream cheese frosting, pink sugar crystals and a pink fondant crown,” available on Fridays), these are works of edible sculpture.

They’re also big. And rich. And sweet. Really sweet.

A couple forkfuls (there’s really no eating these frosting-full, top-heavy desserts with your hands) into a Chocolate Covered Strawberry cupcake — featuring a dark chocolate cake, a puffy pink fluff of icing then capped with even more chocolate that didn’t have a lot of strawberry flavor, but certainly had a lot of sugar — I knew I’d have to have some help with this assignment.

So I enlisted the palates of co-workers who offered their comments. Here are their impressions:

Birthday Surprise: “The fluffy cloud of pink frosting wasn’t so sweet as to be cloying, despite its volume, and the cake was moist like homebaked. Those were the only surprises.” — Katie Doherty

Blackberry Cobbler:

“Nice flavor, and if not for the seeds, I would have thought it to be a spice cupcake. However, I thought it was a bit on the dry side, instead of moist.” — Paula Robinson

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough: “I liked it a lot. Most of the flavor is in the icing (especially with the cookie dough texture). But the design with the cookie standing in the center is really neat.” — Tiffany Robinson

Chocolate Chip Cheesecake: “Holy cow, that was very rich and so very good. The icing was creamy and the cake very moist. Just wished I had a glass of milk to wash it down.” — Stan Denman

Grasshopper: “The cake itself is moist and rich with dark chocolate and it’s vastly superior to the pouffily excessive icing. That’s a light pastel green that vaguely resembles creme de menthe and very vaguely tastes of mint, with a half an Andes creme de menthe candy on top for accent.” — Eric E. Harrison

Pumpkin White Chocolate: “[It] is as heavy as a baseball, and a fork is truly required. The cake — dotted with nuggets of white chocolate inside — isn’t overly pumpkiny or overly spiced. Even half the amount of frosting would have sufficed, but it’s delicious. And, pleasantly, neither the frosting nor the cake is as overwhelmingly sweet as I would have expected, especially when put together.” — Heidi White

Midnight Magic: “The three-layer mountain of creamy chocolate icing with dark-chocolate dollops challenges but does not overwhelm the cake, making for a one-will-do-it-thank-you epicurean diversion.” — Jack Weatherly

Peanut Butter Cup: “The oversized dark chocolate, devil’s foodlike cupcake in a bright white liner would have been fine all by itself. But nooooo, that wasn’t good enough for Gigi, temptress that she is. Instead, adorning the top was a swirl of beige, creamy whipped peanut butter frosting the size of my fist. But the new girl in town didn’t stop there. Instead, she draped the dessert with drizzles of chocolate and peanut butter syrup. And just in case that hadn’t set the hook, she crowned her sweet creation with a miniature peanut butter cup. Diving in, surprises awaited inside — bits of crunchy toasted chopped peanuts baked within. The only thing that would have made it better? Reducing the frosting by half. Despite the popular belief, there really is such a thing as too much of a good thing.” — Linda S. Caillouet

Raspberry Buckle: “The very pink cupcake is a true delight. The best thing about it is the icing — very ladylike and uber-rich, topped with raspberry spread and sprinkled by an apple-crumblelike crust. However, the cake, interspersed with raspberries, more than satisfies. Fans of multitextured dishes and desserts, this cupcake is for you. A he-man might back off of it because of its very feminine look ... which would be a shame.” — Helaine R. Williams

Wedding Cake: “It was the best cupcake I’ve ever had. It pains me to say it was even better than the ones I used to make. The cake had a perfect crumb and was delicious on its own; not too sweet, so with the frosting I wasn’t overwhelmed. The frosting was plentiful, creamy and buttery. Every bite absolutely delicious.” — Robin Ward

For some reason (because maybe it was the afternoon of Election Day and there would be pizza and cake that evening), there was one lone cupcake left in the box.

So I had it. For breakfast the next day.

Scarlett’s Red Velvet:

“What could be better than red velvet cake with cream cheese frosting? All that plus a vanilla center and topping of red sugar crystals and a candy heart. This Scarlett letter here would be A for Awesome.”

Gigi’s Cupcakes

Address: 416 S. University Ave., Little Rock

Hours: 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Sunday, 9 a.m.-8 p.m. Monday-Thursday, 9 a.m.-9 p.m. Friday-Saturday

Credit cards: V, MC, AE, D

Alcoholic beverages: No

Wheelchair accessible: Yes

Carryout: Yes

(501) 614-7012

gigiscupcakesusa.com

Weekend, Pages 33 on 11/15/2012

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