ATLANTA - They say absence makes the heart grow fonder — and that was certainly true for Shirley Hughes.
"It was once a month I got my nice little cheat meal,” says Hughes, “and I definitely indulged!”
As a national level figure competitor, Hughes had to be hyper-focused on what she ate. "80-percent nutrition, 20-percent what you do in the gym,” Hughes explains of her training. "It's all about clean eating."
But on those cheat days, Hughes craved rich, creamy cupcakes. So she taught herself how to bake, and starting making decadent desserts for herself and her teammates.
"I made protein cupcakes at the time, peanut butter and jelly and vanilla cupcakes. That went crazy...and then another set of athletes called me and said, ‘Will you bring it to our show next?’”
And with that — a business was born. On Mother’s Day of 2011, Hughes officially opened Sweet Cheats in Atlanta’s Cabbagetown, and it didn’t take long for the bakery’s single-servings desserts win over the neighborhood.
"We're about having one dessert that you do not share, all by yourself,” she explains. "I'm a single child. So I didn't grow up sharing, so I followed that concept!"
Top sellers at Sweet Cheats include the Chocolate Dream (milk chocolate cupcake with cookie dough in the center), the Sweet & Sinful (cheesecake-flavored cake with fresh strawberries and a strawberry buttercream), and the Salted Caramel. Hughes says walk-up business has been strong during the coronavirus pandemic, allowing her bakery to thrive during this unprecedented time.
"I think we got more neighborhood support because they wanted to support local,” she says.
Sweet Cheats is located at 692-B Kirkwood Avenue SE, and current hours are 9:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. daily. To check out the menu, click here. And click on the video player in this article to get a peek inside this local favorite.