I'll be honest with all of you: I'm not really a fan of cake. In fact,when it comes to the Great Dessert Debate, I'm firmly entrenched with Team Pie. But cupcakes have been the trendy snack for several years now, with cupcake places springing up all over — and when the tasty little cakes are served up with a healthy dose of attitude and whimsy like they are at Fat Bottom Girls Cupcake Shoppe in Hot Springs, even somebody who doesn't think about cake that often (like me) has to sit up and take notice. Located in the historic downtown area of the Spa City, Fat Bottom Girls has a wide selection of frosted treats to choose from, and the chuckle-worthy (and slightly risque) shirts they sell reading, "It's not going to lick itself" represent the style and attitude of the place quite well.
We recently sampled two of the Girls' most popular cupcakes: the Salted Caramel and the Lemon Lavender. The salted caramel was an immediate hit with our group, from the moist, light cake to the thin layer of icing swirled with chocolate, caramel, and a dash of sea salt. My biggest complaint about most cupcakes is that the icing overpowers the cake, but this cupcake was nicely balanced, with the cake and icing working together well to create a rich and unique flavor. The saltiness is present, but subtle, and that slight hit of savory amongst all the sweet was an inspired way to complement and reign in the sweetness. The cake itself was much less dense than I'm used to from a gourmet cake shop, and we all thought that its lighter texture and finer crumb worked in the cake's favor.
We weren't as enamored of the Lavender Lemon, however. While the lemon-flavored cake was just as light and airy as the chocolate, it lacked a lot of the chocolate's moistness, and while I wouldn't go so far as to call it stale, it was certainly a little too far on the dry side for our taste. The lavender icing was tasty enough, although we really couldn't tell much of a difference between the lavender flavor and plain butter cream. In addition, the icing had just a slight bit of graininess to it, something that wasn't present at all in the salted caramel's icing. For me personally, this cupcake was exactly the type of cupcake that turns me off of the things: too much icing flavor without an assertive cake to balance it out. I know that there are folks out there who just love icing, though, and other than the slight textural issues with the icing, this cupcake would probably be right up your alley.
The folks at Fat Bottom Cupcakes were extremely friendly — the young lady behind the register greeted us with a huge smile and a sincere "Hello" even though she was quite busy with the Sunday afternoon crowd. There's obviously a lot of pride that goes into the food and service of this place, and it's a nice addition to the tourist-heavy downtown area. The salted caramel cake was the equal to any cupcake I've had in Little Rock, and I'm willing to put my dislike of the Lemon-Lavender down to personal preference and maybe a batch of icing that didn't quite get mixed. That certainly won't stop me from trying some of the other flavors at Fat Bottom Girls, with Strawberry Cheesecake, Peanut Butter, and Creme Brulee all catching my eye on the menu.
Fat Bottom Girls Original Cupcake Shoppe is located at 124 Central Avenue in Hot Springs, and they're open Sunday 9 a.m. - 5 p.m., Monday-Thursday 9 a.m. - 8 p.m. and 9 a.m. - 9 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays.