Tag Archives: best cupcakes in atlanta

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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Piece of Cake Takes a Piece of My Heart

19 Jul

We’ve got a top contender for Atlanta’s best cupcake (in my book, at least)!  The recommendations, high ratings, and online accolades did not go unnoticed, and I finally made it to sweet, PIECE OF CAKE (you can read of my failed, first attempt here)!  And let me just tell you, everything I read was true.  Heavens to Betsy,  their cupcakes rock the house!

I met up with a friend of mine, who had the beautiful idea of a mid-week, mid-day sugar snack.  Which couldn’t have come at a better time, seeing as I was suffering from an acute case of cupcake withdraw.  Two and a half weeks I went without cupcakes!  May be a new record…that I’m not at all proud of.  Another record breaker that day – the weather.  Lord Almighty, I’m pretty sure Wednesday July 13, 2011 was the hottest day of my life.  Turns out it only hit 96, but I can now say that whole Hotlanta thing is no myth.  You’d think that a popsicle, frozen yogurt, ice cream, what have you, would’ve hit the spot, but oh no!  A half-dozen of Piece of Cake’s small cupcakes put a skippy skip in my step.

Piece of Cake is a bakery veteran.  They’ve been around 26 years and that time has served them well.  They’ve perfected cake consistency to a T.  We’re talking soft, spongy, fresh, moist, flavorful cake that doesn’t crumble apart in your hand – that’s a piece of art.  Their cake/frosting ratio is respectable.  It’s as, I believe, cupcakes were intended to be.  No risk of frosting shock found here.  But boy of boy, there’s just the right amount of sugar stirred (and love, I’m guessing) into those cupcake creations to make any sweet tooth sigh with relief.

So back to my half-dozen, small cupcakes – I selected the Caramel, Coconut, Lemon, Orange, Red Velvet and Yellow (w/chocolate frosting) Cupcakes.  Three were had on the spot, well, on the pretty patio of Henri’s Bakery just a short distance away.  (Gotta give my props to them for not shooing us away, considering they sell cupcakes too! )  I went to town on the Carmel Cupcake first – sweet Mary Jane, that thing was good.  Next up, the Coconut Cupcake – hold the phone, this cupcake is not messing’ around.  At this point, I’m thinking “why, oh why, did I go with the small cupcakes?!”  I wanted more.  So I went in for cupcake #3, the Vanilla (w/chocolate frosting), which is like edible nostalgia.  Later that evening, I presented Steve with his half of my Piece of Cake catch.  I sat right by his side as he sat down to enjoy, and asked for a bite the second he bit into each of the three cupcakes.  What he calls mooching, I call research.  The goodness continued, and the only downside I observed was the Lemon Cupcake lacking that zesty zing.  Overall, Steve commended the cake consistency as well and deemed them tasty!  When I threw out the bold statement of these being Atlanta’s best, thinking he was right there with me, he surprised me with his nod to CamiCakes.  Soooo,  you know what that mean folks?  A blind taste is in order!  Let’s do this (insert dramatic music here)…maybe next week, stay tuned for that endeavor.  Until then, Piece of Cake still has a piece of my heart as well as spot on the Top 10!

Allow me to break it down for you…

PIECE OF CAKE / 3215 Roswell Rd. Atlanta, GA / www.pieceofcakeinc.com / Other locations = 10971 Crabapple Rd. Suite 1300 Roswell, GA and 307 E. College Ave. Suite A Decatur, GA

1. Price:

Large = $2.75 each / $14.75 half dozen / $29.50 dozen

Small = $2.25 each / $12 half-dozen / $24 dozen

Mini = $16.50 dozen

2. Room temperature:  Yes

3.  Size:  The large cupcakes were definitely on the plump size, but not plump enough for me to share half of graciously.  The small-sized cupcakes look awfully similar to mini cupcakes…maybe a smidge bigger than your average mini.  And I didn’t spot any mini cupcakes on the day of my visit, so I’m afraid I can’t report back on that department.  Anyone out there ever have a mini cupcake from Piece of Cake?  In terms of size, what would you compare it to?   

4. Vegan or gluten-free options:  Not in cupcake form.   But they do have a case full of gluten-free goodies (frozen) from Pure Knead, a “dedicated bakery specializing in allergy friendly fare”.

5. To-go packaging:  White cardboard box with red bow print on top (cute!) and dividers inside.

6. Milk for sale?: No beverages, so you gotta take your thirst somewhere else(I say that in the nicest way possible.)

7.  Other treats for non-cupcake enthusiasts you may have in tow:  For on the spot enjoyment, there’s chocolate chip cookies, shortbread cookies, tarts, brownies, cheese straws, slices of cake and pound cake.  Then you can either order (and ship if need be!) layer and/or pound cakes, as well as pick up a gift of chocolate-covered peanuts, bag of malt balls, jar of gum balls, yogurt covered pretzels, mini chocolate chip cookies, pimped out popcorn (i.e. drizzled with chocolate and the like).  Candles, napkins, paper plates, and greeting cards are all available for your party needs, too!

8.  Ambiance: It’s a darling little shop filled with sunlight and sugary aromas.  Stepping inside feels familiar even though I’ve never been before.  No place to sit though (bummer),  so you do need to plan on eating elsewhere.   May I suggest your car?  Because it’s just wrong to wait more than a minute to eat these rock star baked goods.

9. Service:  Excellent!  I loved how friendly/down-to-earth/easy-going the staff was.

10.  Three words to describe the PIECE OF CAKE experience:

1)  Darling 2) Sunny 3) Delicious
Piece of Cake on Urbanspoon

Thanks K, for the fun idea and good company!