Gigi's Cupcakes now open in Golden Valley
Gigi's Cupcakes: Tall, proud, and sugary.
A few weeks back the Wall Street Journal published a story about the rapidly crashing cupcake market, using the Crumbs Bake Shop chain (whose shares, once worth upward of $13 apiece, have dropped to about $1.36) as an example of a business that is struggling in the crowded gourmet cupcake marketplace. Right around the same time, Nashville-based bakery franchise Gigi's Cupcakes opened its first Minnesota location in the Golden Valley Commons.
After Cake Eater closed (taking the sorely missed cupcakes from Miel y Leche with them) and amid rumors that Sweets Bakeshop's extended vacation may be a permanent leave, we had to wonder whether Gigi's cupcakes would be worthy of bucking a national trend or just the next in a long line of single-product shops that find they need to diversify to stay afloat. We figured if the answers were anywhere, they would probably be somewhere toward the middle of one of Gigi's toweringly tall cupcakes.
Gigi's Chocolate Cola Cake cupcake
Gigi's has about 60 varieties of cupcakes that sell for $3.25 each (mini cupcakes are also available as well as individual cheesecakes) and changes its offerings daily. Frosting -- whether cream cheese or buttercream -- is definitely more heavily emphasized than the cake (as is the case at most cupcake shops). Most of the standard varieties, like Red Velvet or the white-on-white Wedding Cake (Gigi's overall best seller, which isn't quite as good as Wuollet's but would still be a very respectable entry in the plain white cake pageant), stand over four inches tall, with frosting making up about three-quarters of the whole dessert.
Each creation is elaborately decorated with everything from gummy worms to banana chips to peanut butter cups. Surprisingly, the fruity cupcakes and ones inspired by other desserts, like the perfumy Strawberry Shortcake (pictured above) and rich Coconut Cream Pie were some of our favorites. I really wanted to love the adorably decorated Chocolate Cola Cake cupcake, but as I prepared for a wave of treacly, rooty, nutty flavor, I got only a blast of sugar and sprinkles that was practically indistinguishable from the other chocolate varieties (of those, we liked the Midnight Magic, a devil's-food cake with chocolate chips and double-chocolate frosting, the best). When it came to the salted caramel and dulce de leche ones, it was hard for Gigi's to live up to the complexity and subtlety of some of our other favorites like the one from a Cupcake Social.
Gigi's packaging is spot-on, both in terms of effectiveness (it transported our very top-heavy cupcakes back home with no frosting run-ins or smash-downs) and attractiveness. The in-store service was smiley and helpful, and the cupcakes themselves are awfully cute, but as far as pure and simple taste, most didn't hold a candle to cupcakes from Cupcake, Sweet Bebe Cakes, or Sweet Retreat. Still, the shop was buzzing with business when we visited, mostly parents with young children and post-lunching ladies stopping in to get something sweet. Perhaps the stability, recognition, and consistency that a chain or franchise bakery offers will be the answer to this confection's recent PR problems.
7722 Olson Memorial Highway
850.543.1258; Gigi's Cupcakes website
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