If you're an icing fan, you worship at the altar of Gigi's Cupcakes. With icing and cake in equal proportions, these unmistakable treats look like they were plucked straight from the candy-land reverie of a 6-year-old. The fillings and swirls and hand-made decorations scoff at the idea of icing as mere garnish.
Midtowners now have a chance to taste for themselves. As of last week, the new Gigi's location in Midtown is open and ready for cupcake aficionados.
Gigi's Cupcakes began as a Nashville bakery three years ago and since then has burgeoned into a national franchise. While the word "franchise" leaves a bad taste in some Memphians' mouths, Marilyn Weber, owner of the three Gigi's stores in the Memphis area, says each bakery adds its own twist on the famous Gigi's formula.
"The Memphis team is very creative. Not only have we created new cupcakes to sell in our stores, those cupcakes, several of them, have been adopted for the national menu," Weber says.
The Coconut Cream Pie cupcake, for instance, came from a Memphis Gigi's. The summer special Turtle Cheesecake cupcake also hails from here, as does the Chocolate Chip Pancake cupcake — white cake with maple filling and a maple butter cream frosting rimmed in chocolate chips.
Some other standout selections include the Nodini Cannoli, with amaretto cake, cannoli cream filling, cannoli cream frosting, and a mini cannoli on top; the Canadian Maple, with maple bacon cake and maple butter cream frosting topped with bacon crumbles; the Chocolate Salted Caramel with dark chocolate cake, caramel filling, caramel frosting, dipped in ganache and topped with sea salt; and the Hot Chocolate Mama with cayenne milk chocolate cake, cayenne chocolate butter cream frosting, red sprinkles, and a handmade spicy cayenne heart on top.
Not thrilled at the idea of inches-high icing? Weber admits she isn't an icing fanatic either.
"I'm one of those who loves cake," she says. "I love the complexity of different cakes, and I like icing. But I don't need all of it."
So for the rest of you with more temperate icing preferences, Weber suggests a simple remedy.
"People who aren't huge icing fans get to knock off what they don't want to have," she says. "But for people who love icing way more than cake, we try to give them what they need. We have people come in and ask if we can sell them the icing. They just want to eat the icing. It amazes me."
Gigi's is open Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Gigi's Cupcakes, 1680 Union (888-2253)
For the six months they spent together, Ladybugg Bakery and YoLo were a match made in heaven — wildly popular frozen yogurt with freshly baked toppings. But when a fully equipped bakery space opened up just a few miles from her home in Hernando, Mississippi, Ladybugg's Heather Bugg had to take the opportunity.
"We had regulars, and that was the hardest thing — leaving our customer base that we'd built in Midtown, the retail customers, our everyday walk-in customers," Bugg says. "We had people who were upset. It was good to feel loved, but we needed to make the move."
The parting was amicable, and YoLo has since opened YoLo Bakes to fill the space.
The Ladybugg Bakery in Hernando opens on October 25th and will take advantage of the extra space to expand into the retail bakery Bugg envisioned all along. She'll have the cakes, cupcakes, cookies, muffins, and scones like before, but this time around she's adding artisan breads, with the help of her stepfather, who was formerly the general manager at Macaroni Grill.
"Now we have two 8-foot cases, so we have a lot more case to fill and a lot more creativity will come out of it," Bugg says.
The bakery also has room to seat about 40 people, which accommodates guests who want to sit and enjoy their treats and also leaves the door open to other possibilities. Ladybugg served a full breakfast at its YoLo location, and Bugg doesn't rule out the possibility of doing so in Hernando. She might even throw brunch into the mix.
Ladybugg Bakery will be open Tuesday through Sunday from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Ladybugg Bakery, 205 East Commerce, Hernando, MS (662-449-7000)