Tan’s Tasty Cakes
Shatan “Tan” McRae-Thompson has been heating things up in the kitchen since she was 9 years old. But her competitive cupcake creations on national TV have brought a heatwave of success, putting the baker and her business, Tan’s Tasty Cakes, on the cupcake-baking map.
McRae-Thompson opened her original location in Hamilton, N.J. in 2012. She opened a satellite location in Morrisville at the end of 2016, following her second-place finish on the Food Network’s “Cupcake Wars” in 2013 and first place win on the Cooking Channel’s “Sugar Showdown” in 2015.
Her cupcakes’ celebrity status has brought visitors from as far away as Michigan, Florida and Rhode Island – and lots of fan mail.
“I get emails from little kids saying they watched me on ‘Cupcake Wars,’” the always smiling McRae-Thompson said. “It’s amazing. They consider me a local celebrity. As long as I’m washing my own dishes, I’m not a celebrity.”
She works and bakes in the New Jersey location, delivering fresh cupcakes daily to her newest store, in Falls Township, which employs three workers.
“They’re an extension of me,” McRae-Thompson said of her staff. “They treat the business like it’s theirs.”
Her cupcake repertoire includes 245 varieties (12-14 different flavors and 2-4 specialties daily), as well as cocktail cupcakes, custom cakes, cheesecake, cookies, brownies, bread puddings, scones, beignets and chocolate-covered strawberries.
“I’ll be walking in the grocery store and I’ll see something and I’ll be like ‘I’m going to put that in a cupcake,’” she said.
Her flavors include traditional favorites like vanilla and chocolate, as well as more exotic tastes like Banana Pudding, Hot Chocolate, Maple Bacon, Salted Caramel, Pineapple Upside Down and many more.
Her favorite cupcake? Lemon Crumb with raspberry filling.
“Anything with sugar I’m all over.”
On a slow day, she bakes 300 cupcakes and up to 1,000 cupcakes on busier days. She bakes everything from scratch and doesn’t use any preservatives.
“I give my customers the same baked goods that I would bake for my children,” she said. “My mom jokes that my secret ingredient is love.”
McRae-Thompson had worked for 17 years in the medical field, supplying her co-workers with their sugar fixes for special occasions or just because.
After leaving her work at the hospital, she started with an online-based business and a commercial kitchen, eventually opening a storefront in 2012.
“I didn’t get any loans,” she said. “I didn’t want to get so deep in debt.”
Now, as her business has become a household name for cupcake aficionados, McRae-Thompson has gotten offers to expand beyond her two locations.
“I’ve been approached about franchising,” she said. “But I feel this is a part of me and that can’t be sold.”
Looking ahead, McRae-Thompson is planning to open her first soul food restaurant this spring in Hamilton, N.J.
“I wanted to do the cupcakes, but I wanted to have a restaurant too,” she said. “Food, it makes me happy. I dance and sing when I eat.”
To learn more
Tan’s Tasty Cakes is located at 229 Plaza Blvd, Suite 27, in Morrisville. The store is open Wednesday through Saturday from noon to 5 p.m. Custom cakes and special orders may be placed by calling 267-799-5323. For more information, visit http://www.tanstastycakes.com/.