At three local donut shops, bakers frost fresh batches of long johns, cake donuts, and sundry other sweets every morning, augmenting sugary starts with savory breakfast croissants and biscuits. Pastries such as glazed donuts ($0.59), éclairs ($0.80), and bear claws ($1) take a swipe at hunger, and cinnamon rolls ($1.15) unravel into sweet, flaky layers. Customers can ponder the perplexing solidity of donut holes ($0.12 each; $1.25/dozen) while waiting for a steamy croissant sandwich packed with ham and cheese ($3.25). While prepping hot kolaches or pigs in a blanket ($1 small; $2 large), bakers tuck hot dogs into a pillowy dough blanket before telling them "I love you" one final time.
Since the tender age of 8, owner Laina Woodard Smith of Madison Cupcake Company has baked and ornamented cupcakes fueled by her passion for elegant design and fresh ingredients. In addition to traditional cupcake flavors, the company boasts daily specials of avant-garde medleys such as strawberry cheesecake, banana split, and malted milk ball. The company also vends frosting shots, dollops of sweetness topped with candy crumbles or fruit, and can produce customized baked goods to celebrate birthdays, anniversaries, or the arrival of a brand-new box of checks.
After eating sushi on their first date, one young couple realized that their town lacked a postdinner hangout spot for all crowds. Though the couple didn’t let this spoil their evening—they married later that year—it did instill them with the entrepreneurial spirit, leading them to found Sweet Tree Yogurt. The family-friendly eatery fans the flames of dessert cravings with more than 30 self-serve yogurt flavors packed with live and active probiotics and more than 50 candy and fruit toppings. Customers fill cups or upside-down witch hats with the yogurt of their choice, from low-fat varieties such as vanilla and cookies 'n' cream to sugar-free or fat-free treats including chocolate and cheesecake. They next crown their cups at the expansive toppings bar, which teems with almonds, candy bars, fresh fruit, and syrups. Finally, completed desserts rest on a scale at the weigh station to determine the amount of moola due and whether each cup will fight in the welterweight or featherweight division.
Armed with just a single, generations-old cookie recipe, Great American Cookies opened its first store in 1977, and the rest is history. Today, the franchise boasts locations in malls across the country and nabbed a coveted spot on Entrepreneur magazine’s 2012 list of Top 500 Franchises in the baked-goods category. The shop’s reputation grew, and so did its menu as chefs churned out a mouthwatering roster of gourmet-cookie recipes, each created and carefully tested in Atlanta. The tempting options now include snickerdoodle, peanut butter with M&M’s, and chewy pecan supreme, as well as freshly baked fudge and cheesecake brownies and cookie sandwiches stuffed with frosting. The real showstoppers, however, are the giant chocolate-chip cookie cakes, which can be customized with sweet, celebratory messages or shopping lists penned in colorful icing.
Beagle Bagel Cafe turns farm-fresh ingredients into a bevy of confectionary treats and scrumptious café fare. Refreshingly cool smears of cream cheese in flavors such as garlic and herb, lotta lox, and cinnamon swirl alight upon more than 20 types of bagels, including blueberry blitz and sun-dried tomato. Early risers can catapult themselves mouth-first into a new day with gourmet coffee ($1.25–$1.65) partnered with breakfast-menu scarfables such as bagel sandwiches ($1.99–$3.95) and wraps stuffed with eggs, cheese, and a choice of meat ($6.80). Hot paninis ($7.50) and deli-meat bagel sandwiches ($5.65+) from the lunch and dinner menu pacify postbreakfast hunger pangs. A rotating assortment of cupcakes silences the griping of whiny sweet teeth, providing nearby molars with the silence they need to study for the GRE.