Cupcakes in Chattanooga.July 14, 2010
When I moved away almost a year ago, Gigi’s Cupcakes was coming soon on Shallowford Road in Chattanooga. Now, it is one of four places to pick up a cupcake, at least from what I can tell. On my couple day visit, I hit two quite different spots for a cupcake, and will go to at least one more the next time I grace that little city with my presence. (Gigi’s not included, for obvious reasons such as I don’t have to drive 120 miles to get there.)
Custom Couture Cakes by A Bountiful Harvest
This bakery used to be located closer to downtown, but is now in Hixson, not too far from where my parents live. My mom and I were on our way to Sonic when we passed it…yes, Sonic.
Amusing thing about Sonic: it is essentially the closest place to get food to their house. Now, I live nowhere near one. Therefore when my mom mentioned getting something to drink there I freaked out. If I’m going outside of the perimeter for Sonic, I’m apparently REALLY going outside.
So, we drive by it, a rather weird little shopping center with not much parking, and I can’t stop thinking about it to the point we turn around and go back.
I immediately walk up to the cupcake case, and see all the cupcakes are $3+, making me think cupcakes in Chattanooga are seriously backwards and using New York for pricing points.
Turns out, every single baked good Couture Cakes makes is gluten free, contains no refined white sugars, and is nearly entirely organic. Since I don’t have to worry about gluten, I began instead to worry that maybe the cake would taste weird.
Up front is my cupcake: Caramel Dream. It’s a Belgian chocolate cake with caramel inside, caramel mousse on top, and topped with more caramel.
Weird tasting? Hell no. It sure wasn’t the same as a normal flour cake texturally, but nothing tasted funny. They use quinoa and almond flour for the cakes. The cupcake was pretty big, it wouldn’t be worth $3.50 whatsoever if standard ingredients were used.
I really liked that the cupcake was not overly sweet. The mousse tasted like I would imagine caramel ice cream would taste if you made it solid yet not cold.
My mom had a white chocolate strawberry cheesecake cupcake, and we picked out white chocolate peanut butter cup ones for my brother and dad.
Also it’s worth noting that they have a ton of different flavors, the owner told us they have around 200 flavors and they bake throughout the day, so the selection not only changes day by day but could be different hour by hour. They also have chocolates, which additionally come in sugar-free, and cookies which come in gluten-free only, or additionally sugar-free or dairy-free. It’s a very cool shop, and I’m glad that they decided to add cupcakes when they moved locations because I would have never tried a gluten free cupcake otherwise.
Chattanooga Cupcakes: your more typical cupcake bakery, $2.75 a cupcake, which I can deal with I guess. (I suppose you can charge whatever you want when you are one of a few rather than one of several like in Atlanta, where I feel $2.50 is generally charged for the popular spots.)
Again, not an impressive location. It can be cute to have whimsical pastels for a building color, but so far down Broad Street, it just looks kind of odd. The interior wasn’t as cute as the outside painted it out to be, it was kind of cold to be honest.
I took my cupcake home, so I didn’t eat there. I wouldn’t have wanted to though.
There were lots of options even at 8pm at night on a Friday. I decided to go with another chocolate cake.
(as you can see, the lemonade I got to accompany the cupcake didn’t make it home)
This cupcake is the Domino Effect – chocolate cake, topped with “white truffle frosting” (vanilla, for real) and then topped with chocolate specks.
Initially I was also drawn to this cake because LOOK AT THAT FROSTING. IT’S TALLER THAN THE CUPCAKE.
The cupcake seriously was being crushed under its weight, I’m not even kidding. I removed the frosting to try to eat cake AND frosting, and the cake was just entirely stuck to it.
The cake was basic chocolate, nothing special whatsoever. The frosting was awesome. My mom actually came in and ate a piece of it that I had taken off. I was slightly horrified. I also think I dumped out a good third of it.
I liked the cake, but I can make stuff of this quality in my own kitchen. I really liked that their box included an insert to keep the cupcake in place on the drive home, although the cupcake was bigger than the insert, so it was deformed. No big deal, because that’s better than the alternative of cake all over my car.
Not up to the same standards of Atlanta, but a valiant attempt for the city. And in any case bravo to both of them for changing/opening their businesses in the past year and both doing well.
One of my friends mentioned she doesn’t “get” cupcakes, and I told her to just wait for the frozen yogurt explosion. They’ve already got one….