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 Top 500 Franchises in the baked-goods category. As the shop?s reputation grew, 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&Ms, and chewy pecan supreme, as well as freshly baked fudge and cheesecake brownies, and cookie sandwiches stuffed with frosting. The real show-stoppers, however, are the giant chocolate-chip cookie cakes, which can be customized with sweet, celebratory messages or shopping lists penned in colorful icing.
Family-owned and '50s-inspired, Nikki's Swirl Shoppe specializes in self-serve frozen yogurt, custom milkshakes, and customized sundaes. Salted caramel, creamy cheesecake, chilled cubes of fresh pineapple, and whole blueberries and rasberries decorate frozen yogurt, whose flavors include strawberry, chocolate mint, hazelnut, pistachio, and pound cake. Like the color of trees and the fashion of chameleons, these flavors change with the seasons, with eggnog and pumpkin making appearances in the colder months. In addition to sating singular sweet teeth, Nikki's Swirl Shoppe hosts parties for all occasions.
Helmed by a duo of moms, Sweet Cheeks' batter-forging shamans whip up homemade cupcakes daily from an extensive selection of rotating flavors, with vegan and sugar- and gluten-free options available. Jolt taste buds from a sound sleep with a vibrant cupcake ($2.50 each), choosing batter bases such as red velvet, mochaccino, or an amplifier made of Dr. Pepper. The addition of a filling, including reese's cheesecake or chantilly cream, adds depth and deliciousness to portable treats, and a final slather of cream-cheese or buttercream frosting turns scandalously bare tops decent.
For more than 30 years, the name of the elusive baked goods baroness has been a shopping-mall mainstay. Utilizing a secret blend of high-quality ingredients, her underground bakery bunker doles out oven-fresh favorites with the grace of a nimble gazelle wafting delicately across the African outback. Fuel up on chocolate-studded favorites (nuts optional) such as chocolate, chocolate-chip, and white chocolate, or try oatmeal raisin, cinnamon sugar, peanut butter, or seasonal flavors such as peppermint bark.
From within her home kitchen, the baker and owner of Little Bird Cupcakes crafts sweets by the dozen. In her Johnny Apple cake, she creates a spice-cake batter from granny-smith apples and toasted pecans, then tops the moist cake with a vanilla-buttercream frosting and crumbled bits of maple bacon. For those looking for frosting squished in between cakes, she recommends her whoopie pies, which can be made from almost any of her specialty cupcake flavors. She makes her cupcakes in classic flavors, from the tart lemon drop to the almond topped with chocolate buttercream and a sprinkling of almonds. And for her specialty cupcakes, she combines more unique flavors, such as banana-pudding cupcakes with Nilla wafer crumbles.
In 1997, friends Dena Tripp and Debra Shwetz set out to create a luscious, melt-in-your-mouth bundt cake. What began as an endeavor in their own home kitchens soon blossomed into a bustling business with bakeries in 21 states. Rich cocoa browns and soft pastels lend a nostalgic feel to each bakery, where every day ovens warm up cake batter made from fresh eggs, real butter, and cream cheese. Flavors such as chocolate chocolate chip, red velvet, and white-chocolate raspberry are favorite staples, and a new seasonal flavor makes a guest appearance each month. Cakes come in several sizes, from the standard 8- or 10-inch bundt to the single-serving bundtlet and the bite-size bundtini, all crowned with signature cream cheese frosting.