Tashana Small can pretty well predict a new customer’s reaction to her mac-and-cheese cupcakes. “They yell ‘What are you talking about? These are my two favorite things!’”
Indeed, who could resist a cupcake made of mac-and-cheese? Especially when the cheese mixture hits a balance between mellow and sharp, the elbow macaroni is still firm, and the whole package golden and crusty all over.
Small’s Tashana’s Kitchen sells these bundles of goodness, both ready to eat and frozen, at farmers markets all over Long Island, but they are just the foundation of her business. Literally. Small’s next big idea was to smother the cupcakes with savory main dishes, in effect moving the mac-and-cheese from the side to the bottom so that it anchored generous servings of pulled pork, fried chicken, maple-cinnamon drizzled yams, Buffalo chicken with blue cheese, pot roast with gravy, Cajun salmon bites with crabmeat and more. Classic (i.e. naked) cupcakes are $8; topped, they range from $9 to $23. You can also buy them frozen in packages of two ($17 to $32), four ($30 to $65) or a dozen ($98 to $190).
Small has cooked and catered for friends and family since she was a teenager. In 2014 she and her sister were making chocolate bark to give out as holiday presents and the spirit moved her to spoon some mac-and-cheese into a muffin pan and bake it until it was hot and golden. The two women enjoyed their dinner, and Small forgot about her idea for the next seven years.
In 2021, Small’s youngest child graduated from high school and she decided to focus on her catering career — but COVID had turned the industry upside down. “No one wanted big parties or served food,” she said. “It was all about individual portions and grab and go.”
Then, a Eureka moment. “I remembered those mac-and-cheese cupcakes. And I thought, ‘let me do them with toppings.’” Soon she’d found a commercial kitchen to produce the food and, last year, started selling at farmers markets and events.
Right now Tashana’s Kitchen can be found at farmers markets in Bayport, Blue Point, Port Jefferson and Riverhead (where she only sells frozen product). She posts her schedule on her instagram, @tashanaskitchen and also accepts orders with 48 hours notice to be picked up in Amityville or Patchogue.