[Updated November 6, 2021] Growing up in a lower middle class family in Atlanta, I vividly recall the visceral excitement I felt every time I’d get some spending money from mowing my neighbor’s lawn.
My buddies and I would hop on our 10-speed bikes and ride down to the neighborhood Milk Jug convenience store.
There we’d excitedly grab fistfuls of Jolly Ranchers, Now & Laters, Bit O’Honeys, and other 5¢ candies, with ice-cold Coca-Cola to wash down our sugar high.
I may be 40 years older and considerably less interested in candy these days. But I still get that same rush of endorphins every time I walk into The Sweet Shoppe of the South, our favorite bakery in Blue Ridge GA.
Read on for our review of the Sweet Shoppe’s delectable desserts to find out why visiting the bakery is one of our favorite things to do in Blue Ridge!
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• Before launching The Sweet Shoppe of the South with Susan Catron, Nikki Kaylor (who was then Nikki Gribble) was the owner of Georgia Mountain Cabin Rentals in Blue Ridge.
• The Sweet Shoppe bakery opened in 2011, but became nationally-known in 2015, when Catron and Kaylor won Season 6 of the Food Network reality show, Cupcake Wars.
• Their winning recipe was Catron’s unique Peanut Butter & Jelly Cupcakes with Peanut Butter Buttercream Frosting concoction.
• The Blue Ridge bakery has been so successful in the past few years, they relocated to a larger storefront on E Main St in early 2020.
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THE ATMOSPHERE AT THE SWEET SHOPPE
Located across from the train depot on E Main St, nestled among the most popular shops in Blue Ridge, the Sweet Shoppe bakery is like a Willy Wonka factory for grown-ups.
From brownies, blondies and breakfast pastries to cookies and nationally-known cupcakes, the sweet sights and smells that greet you when you walk in the door are nothing short of tantalizing for anyone with a serious sweet tooth.
During our recent morning visit, owners Susan Catron, Nikki Kaylor, and their staff were as busy as Santa’s elves baking up a broad variety of homemade treats.
We were greeted by the smiling face of Catron, who was loading up the front counter display with fresh-baked Apple Fritters, Cheese Danish, and Brownies.
The gleaming hardwood floors drew our eyes to the colorful Sweet Shoppe logo at the back, where Kaylor and company were adding the final touches to Turtle Cheesecakes.
There were also colorful decorative paintings, photos, and menus listing the day’s treats on the brick wall behind the counter.
But, let’s be honest, you’ll be hard-pressed to draw your focus away from the Blue Ridge bakery’s jaw-dropping array of delightful desserts on display.
THE SWEET SHOPPE’S CUPCAKES
A beloved bakery in Blue Ridge GA since 2011, the Sweet Shoppe garnered national acclaim when they won Season 6 of the Food Network’s Cupcake Wars competition back in 2015.
Catron’s Peanut Butter & Jelly Cupcakes with Peanut Butter Buttercream Frosting recipe showcased the team’s willingness to think outside the box and experiment with flavors most bakers would never even think to try in a cupcake.
That sense of culinary ingenuity has only grown bolder over time.
Recent offerings such as the French Toast & Bacon, Peppermint Mocha, Boston Cream Pie, and Miss Scarlett are practically bursting with intense flavors.
But it’s the foundations of good baking– the moist, fluffy cupcake, the rich (but perfectly portioned) dollops of frosting, the texture and aesthetic decoration– that truly makes each of these little beauties worth every calorie.
Even some of the more traditional cupcake flavors we tasted, from Blonde Bombshell and Cookies ‘n’ Cream to Triple Chocolate Threat, were a delicate delight.
OTHER SWEET SHOPPE SPECIALTIES
But what makes the Sweet Shoppe the best bakery in Blue Ridge (if not all of the North Georgia mountains) in our eyes is the sheer diversity of the desserts they do well.
As we drove the Richard B Russell Scenic Highway to hike Helton Creek Falls in Blairsville, Mary raved about the rich, decadent gooeyness of their Chocolate Chip Cookie.
I practically devoured their Apple Fritter, whose fresh, cinnamony chunks of locally-sourced fruit were bursting with flavor.
It was like someone took my favorite childhood baked good and leveled it up for gourmet grown-up tastes!
Even a simple Cheese Danish tasted a million times better than I remember it from the days when boxes of Entenmann’s were a Sunday after-church tradition.
One of the best compliments I can give the Sweet Shoppe is that their baking skills can make you like a dish you were once ambivalent about, and rave about a dish you once merely liked.
Their Turtle Cheesecake was clearly not churned out by some Factory. Instead it was delicate and fluffy, with a delightfully light graham cracker-like crust and crunchy nuts topped with a chocolate and caramel drizzle.
As a huge connoisseur of gourmet coffee from around the world, I’ve always been a fan of Tiramisu.
But the Blue Ridge bakery takes it to the next level, with robust flavors that linger on the tongue long after the last bite has been swallowed.
Even a hoary chestnut like the Lemon Square seems fresh and new in their hands, simultaneously bringing back memories and making me dream of buying more on future visits.
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Along with Blue Ridge restaurants such as Harvest On Main, Black Sheep, and Masseria Kitchen & Bar, the Sweet Shoppe has ushered in a new era of culinary excellence that has elevated the North Georgia mountain town far beyond its simple Appalachian roots.
It’s got the down-home charm of your favorite neighborhood dessert shop. But the national acclaim makes it clear these ladies are a cut above most small town bakers.
They craft gorgeous custom cakes (including colorful Christmas cakes), seasonal cupcakes (including White Chocolate Peppermint) and occasional specialties (including Chocolate-dipped Coconut-covered Cherries, a family recipe).
They can also cater weddings, parties, and other private events, and have recently introduced shipping options for packs of 4, 6, or 12 cupcakes. –by Bret Love; photos by Bret Love & Mary Gabbett