Those who think cupcakes have had their moment certainly haven't been to Gigi's Cupcakes in Nashville. The shop is dedicated to all things cupcake and they do their job well; their creations are some of the most beautiful I've seen - so much so, that I've actually considered framing the full-color menu I brought home for this write up!
According to their website, the company was started in Nashville, in 2008, and now has over 36 locations in 16 states - that's good news for cupcake lovers and great news for non-Nashville residents! The exterior of the original Nashville location is small and unassuming, but inside it's a cupcake craver's paradise, transformed by sugary smells, a pastel palette, and pastry cases filled with row upon row of beautifully-iced cupcakes. Indeed, it's the icing that's the major draw at Gigi's - light, pretty, towering and, mercifully, not too sweet. Sara promised a 1:1 ratio of icing to cupcake, and Gigi's certainly delivered!
The cupcakes are freshly baked each morning, so the menu changes daily. It's published on their website which meant that we got that all-important preview, but even with advance notice of the choices, I had a terrible time making my decision - they all looked so wonderful.
I've never tasted Red Velvet cake (I know, I know - I promise I haven't been living under a rock, I just don't eat cake very often) so that was a front runner, as was their Champagne cupcake - easily the prettiest of the bunch, with a tall, swirling crown of pale icing topped with edible pearls - but when it came down to the decisive moment, I found myself ordering the Lemon Icebox. Perhaps it was it's gloriously excessive amount of icing, it's cheery, pale-yellow color, or the ring of crushed vanilla wafers around the edge, but it just looked so refreshing!
|Clockwise from top left: Wedding Cake, Red Velvet, Summer Fun and Lemon Icebox|
The shop has limited seating, so we took our heavily-frosted indulgence to a window-side bar. We procured a small candle and sang "Happy Birthday" to mark Christi's special day, and then got down to the very serious business of ingesting lots and lots of sugar! While my Lemon Icebox cupcake was tasty, it wasn't quite as revelatory as I had hoped. The lemon flavor was rather subdued (I'm told their Lemon Dream Supreme variety is stronger), and while I enjoyed the cream cheese filling inside, the cake was a little dry. The other girls seemed pleased with their selections so I thought it was important (for the sake of the blog, of course) to take another sample.
Since one cupcake is more than enough sugar for one siting, I decided to take my second one home. That way I could spread out the enjoyment and maybe even share a little of it with Matt. Unfortunately, the Red Velvet cupcakes had sold out while we were eating (there was a constant stream of customers, even though we were only an hour or so away from closing) but a new Strawberry Champagne variety had made an appearance. Topped with pretty, pleated-looking icing just like the original Champagne version, this variety had the added benefit of real strawberry icing (I could see the tasty little seeds!). With Matt in mind, I'd already decided to get something chocolatey, but I was happy when Sara Beth picked up one of these pretty, pink creations, and a few others, to take back to Indiana.
In the end, I chose the Kentucky Bourbon Pie cupcake for its rich bourbon cake base, flecked with chocolate chips, and its comparatively modest covering of rich cream cheese icing (yeah, that's what passes for modest icing at Gigi's!). The drizzle of caramel and chocolate ganache was just a bonus! The cupcake made it all the way back to Clarksville in its pretty green box, but I had all I could do to keep myself from devouring it before I could take a few pictures (with my good camera - worth every penny!).
I'm not sure if it was the day's delay, or just the different combination of flavors, but this cupcake was absolutely A-MAZ-ING! The cake was rich, incredibly moist, and filled with almost-melted chocolate chips - just like a bourbon-spiked Tollhouse Pie (and you can thank Sara for that perfect analogy). The cream cheese icing was just sweet enough (and, most importantly, not oily!) to compliment the slight savoriness of the pecans. I don't usually go in for hyperbole, but I'm certainly glad I gave Gigi's a second chance since this might be one of the best cakes I've ever tasted.
While I can't vouch for all their flavors, I can confidently recommend the Kentucky Bourbon (translation: get it now!!) and would suggest a visit to Gigi's for the beauty of their creations, alone. The other girls liked their picks and Sara assures me that the strawberry icing on her gorgeous Strawberry Champagne cupcake was just as fresh and delicious as it looked!
They weren't baking their Chocolate Salted Caramel, Key Lime Pie, Merry Margarita or Chocolate Malt (my top picks after browsing their online menu) on the day we visited, so I guess that just means I'll have to go back! At $3 a pop, they're not cheap, but they certainly make a worthwhile indulgence. So, if you find yourself craving a sweet treat in Nashville (or near any of their other 36 locations) I say, 'Give them a swirl!'