Tag Archives: Atlanta cupcake

Atlanta Cupcake Factory Forces Me To Break Out The Dictionary

2 Sep

And by “break out the dictionary”, I mean break out the online dictionary (watch out, we can get brainy up in here).  The reasoning behind my dictionary search – to examine the meaning of “factory”.  You see, when I first heard the name “Atlanta Cupcake Factory”, I envisioned this massively old brick building.  That carried a rich and quirky history, like the largest paper clip manufacturer this side of the Atlantic or something.  And now the  industrial, architectural beast of a building was re-purposed to the sweet tune of mass cupcake production.  Can you picture it?  I imagined buying a ticket that got you a tour of the facility.  We’d wear hairnets and white lab coats as we strolled the factory floors and watch freshly baked cupcakes stream down a conveyer belt.  Puffs of colorful frosting would magically drop from some mechanical arm as the cupcakes merrily rolled on by.  We’d get high on the scent of sugar, sample dollops of frosting, then conclude our tour with the all-you-can-eat-cupcake-buffet in the building’s cafeteria.   I see myself emerging the factory at sunset with crumbs in my hair and bellybutton, wearing  a gift shop t-shirt proclaiming “Cupcakes Are The New Paperclips!”.

So, you can understand my surprise when my friend Beatrix first pointed out the Atlanta Cupcake Factory tucked into a small strip of shops called Highland Row.

It’s really charming, but factory it is not.  At least not the factory-type I pictured.  Hence, the need for an official “factory” definition.  Here we go – according to good ol’ Merriam-Webster, a factory =

1. a station where factors reside and trade

2. a building or set of buildings with facilities for manufacturing

3. the seat of some kind of production

So even though their website states that they are “dedicated to handcrafted, small-batch wholesome baking”, Atlanta Cupcake Factory is still the seat of some kind of (–>cupcake) production.  So I guess it’s legit.  I’m just gonna chalk up this whole tangent to my wild imagination, and not a fail in elementary education.  (But now that it’s out there, don’t you think this country needs my visionary cupcake factory!  Surely there’s a sleepy old plant out there some where, just prime for the picking, that we can bestow this sweet endeavor upon.  Let’s make it happen America!)

In terms of the actual Atlanta Cupcake Factory –  it’s a bigwig in the Atlanta cupcake arena and is certainly worth a go-see.  It’s been recommended by Southern Living, has won Creative Loafing’s “Best of” award in 2008, 2009, and 2010, and made National Geographic Traveler’s “25 Cupcakeries We Love” list (um, how have I not seen this list until now?!  I’m so ashamed, I only have like 9 of the cupcakeries from this list on my radar.  This is not a good day for Cupcake Crusader.).

Stepping into the 5-year old, family-owned and operated Atlanta Cupcake Factory is like slipping into a little cupcake-feathered nest with tons of homespun appeal.  At first, you might be caught off guard by the tight quarters but you’ll soon be enveloped by the cozy and intimate vibe to even notice.  There were about 12 flavors to choose from during my Friday afternoon visit with Beatrix (but their online menu sets the mouth-a-watering with lots of flavors like Banana Brown Sugar, Sugar Cookie Vanilla Peach, Strawberry Lemonade, and Chocolate Dolce de Leche.)  Beatrix had her heart set on a Vanilla Salted Caramel (an ACF top-seller) and I went with the Fresh Strawberry…and the Chocolate Almond Raspberry for good measure!  We sat outside with Beatrix’s loveable pup, Schmoo, and enjoyed our sugary sweets!

Since I admire and respect Beatrix’s opinion greatly, I asked her to type up her critique (like we had done here after our visit to Belly General Store).  So without further ado, please join me in welcoming back the words of Beatrix!

The thing I like best about the ACF is that their cupcakes actually taste like their name – i.e. strawberry truly tastes like strawberry, etc.  Some cupcakes really just taste like straight sugar, regardless of what flavoring they profess.  But ACF seems quite genuine.  Another funny anecdote to relate is how much joy they brought my 89 year old grandmother when I took them down for an Easter celebration.  She took that double chocolate cupcake from the box and proceeded to get chocolate frosting all over her from head to tow.  She looked a lot like a kid eating their first birthday cake when all was done.  And Schmoo (the loveable pup I mentioned earlier) dutifully sat under her wheelchair in expectation of the cake crumbs from heaven.

I wholeheartedly agree with Beatrix in that the cupcake flavors are not misleading, but immediately identifiable and rich.  Both Beatrix and I delighted in the bursting freshness of the raspberry puree atop the Chocolate Almond Raspberry.   I instantly detected the warm caramel flavor faintly contrasted by a pinch of salt in my bite of Beatrix’s  Salted Caramel cupcake.  And the Fresh Strawberry, oh now that was a darling of a cupcake.  One of those make-you-feel-like-a-(very lucky!)-kid-again kind of cupcakes.  Maybe a Top 10 contender, I told Beatrix (still deliberating in that department).   Overall – fresh cakes all around (ACF uses no oil and bakes on-site everyday) and standard cake/frosting ratio.

Phew, apologies for my chattiness today (or is it always?)!  But at least it was educational, no?  Let me get to a brief break down and get you on your way!

Atlanta Cupcake Factory / 624 N. Highlands Ave.  Atlanta, GA / www.theatlantacupcakefactory.com

1. Price: $2.50 each

2. Room temperature: Yes!

3.  Size:  Standard

4. Vegan or gluten-free options:  No

5. To-go packaging:  Plastic clamshell.  Ours came in a six-seater.  It’s effective, but I’m not a huge fan of plastic.

6. Milk for sale?:  Yes, along with Coke, Sprite, Diet Coke, H2O, coffee, and cinnamon coffee.

7.  Other treats for non-cupcake enthusiasts you may have in tow: Homemade rice crispy bars (including fruity pebble and chocolate salted caramel varieties) and chocolate espresso brownies.  Oh yeah, you can also buy cute handmade aprons for $30.

8.  Ambiance: It’s a small space with a vintage feel, fun art, and nostalgic flair.  Plus it had two of my favorite elements in a cupcakery – hardwood floors and lots of natural lighting.  No where to sit inside though.  Two patio tables and bench available outside (which is dog friendly!).

9. Service:  Welcoming and down-to-earth.

10.  Three words to describe the Atlanta Cupcake Factory experience (once I got over my reality check):

1) Flavorful 2) Cozy 3) Artsy

Just for fun, here’s a shot of Beatrix’s Pekingese either 1) eagerly anticipating Beatrix’s exit from ACF or 2) longing for her very own cupcake.  I tell ya, that dog has a special place in my heart (and just happens to be my god-dog :))!  Thank you Beatrix and Schmoo for being such trusty crusade companions!

Atlanta Cupcake Factory on Urbanspoon

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Our Southern Spree Begins!

4 Nov

Shortly after my move to Georgia, my good friends Beatrix & Manny* took me on a wonderful outing to explore Atlanta.  It was a great day – strolling through Piedmont Park with their beyond adorable pup, and then lunch at the tasty La Fonda.  Afterwards, they suggested stopping at a place for cupcakes (see, they really are good friends!).   We found ourselves sitting at a time-worn farmhouse table in the sun-filled, Belly General Store, each with a beautiful cupcake in front of us.  What great way to kick off “Cupcake Crusade in Georgia”!

Cupcakes in the sunlight = happiness!

Before we get into it, here are some fun little crumbs of info on Belly:

~Awarded “Best Cupcakes” in Atlanta Magazine 2004. 

~Located in a historic building that once housed a community anchor – Fleeman’s Pharmacy (and soda fountain!).

~Can be seen in the current movie Life As We Know It, starring Katherine Heigle and Josh Duhamel.  In the movie, Belly is converted into “Fraiche”, a gourmet food store/catering company owned by Heigle’s character.

After we enjoyed our dessert and before I headed home, I asked Beatrix and Manny if they would jot down their impressions of the cupcakes and email me later when they had the chance.  They got back to me right away with such well-written descriptions that I just had to paste in their write-up word for word.  (If I ever decide to quit this crusade, I say Beatrix and Manny should take over!)

Beatrix on the Red Velvet Cupcake w/Vanilla Butter Cream Icing — “Though I am not a cake expert, I thought that the cake was a bit dry.  However, on our walk back to the condo after you left, Manny and I discussed the chemistry of cake butter, and decided that any steps to make it more moist may have compromised the structural stability of the cake.  So we decided that it was probably fine.  The icing still remains a mightily impressive part of the experience, and I was profoundly awed by the icing, slowly melting in the sunshine.  You could taste every grain of sugar.  I can also see the advantages of serving a cupcake at room temperature, rather than cold, so that would probably rank as a plus on behalf of the establishment.  Finally, as I said, compared to some of the other cupcakes you have featured on your blog, I felt that these lacked ornamentation.  However, I believe you are 100% correct in your observation that the cupcake matched the ambiance of the establishment, and this is an important part of the experience.”

Manny on the Chocolate Cupcake w/Chocolate Butter Cream Icing — “This German chocolate cake does not disappoint.  The cake and icing had a nice contrast between not overly sweet and sweet, respectively.  The token dark chocolate chip in the base of the cupcake was a welcome surprise.  The cupcake had a generous muffin top (would that be cupcake top?) without the unnecessarily voluminous icing layer to make it considerably easier to eat than cupcakes that are more heavily iced — this was appreciated.  (Nota bene: this is a reference to an experience with a cupcake “cake” that was had at our nephew’s 2nd birthday.  A cake was made out of 2 dozen individual cupcakes and then slathered with an inch and a half of icing to create the flat surface of the cake.  Not only was it too sweet to eat, but a roomful of 2 year olds should not be allowed to eat that much icing!)”

*Beatrix and Manny are the pen names of my friends, which is further evidence of their exceptional writing skills!

Love the contrast of the sweet cupcakes sitting on the rough, wood planks.

Time to break it down

Belly General Store / 772 N. Highland Ave. Atlanta, GA /  www.bellystore.com

  1. Price:  $2.00!  That’s what I’m talkin’ ’bout!

2. Room temperature:  Yes!

3.  Size:  Standard

4. Vegan or gluten-free options:   Not so much.

5. To-go packaging:  Hmm, we dined in so I’m not sure about this.  Beatrix, are you up for a reconnaissance mission?!

6. Milk for sale?:   Yup.  You can also get coffee drinks, organic juices made to order, and even shots of wheatgrass.  I personally believe that taking one shot of wheatgrass will immediately eliminate any cupcake indulgence-related guilt .

7.  Other treats for non-cupcake enthusiasts you may have in tow:   Oh yes, in fact, I highly recommend coming by to check out their other goods.  You’ll discover a “selection of artisan products ranging from local to international” like organic fruits and vegetables, artisan cheeses, fruit juices, jams (I LOVE jam!), and even spaghetti sauce.  THEN, on their menu you’ll find freshly made, olive oil bagels; muffins; Georgia grits; handmade flour tortillas (the scrambled egg, cheddar, house mole & avocado sounds delish!); soups; salads; sandwiches; panninis; and a Nutella & banana panino (I don’t exactly know what that is, but I figure that anything with Nutella in it has got to be good).  Lots of yumminess to be had here!

8.  Ambiance:  Cool!  My kind of place – historic building (2 points!), hard wood floors and colorful soda bottles lining the walls.  Lots of natural light streaming in.  Kind of quirky and nostalgic.  Located in the historic neighborhood, Virginia Highlands.  No shortage on charm, that’s for sure! 

Thank you to Manny for his photography.

9. Service:  Everything was very tidy and the staff was friendly.  A cool feature,which Beatrix pointed out, was the little take-out window on the front of the store.  That way, folks walking through the neighborhood with their dogs can stop, stroll up to the window, and also enjoy Belly’s treats. 

I truly enjoyed my Vanilla Cupcake w/Chocolate Butter Cream Icing for its sweet simplicity, appropriate cake/icing ratio, soft cake and rich frosting.  So much so that I will find room on the Top 10  for this little gem!

~My dear thanks go out to Manny and Beatrix for your great contribution, your fun company, a memorable day, and a warm welcome to Georgia!

Belly General Store on Urbanspoon