The Sweet Stuff

Who among us (of a certain age) doesn’t recall the sublimity of Saturday morning cartoons on TV? It was an experience that became all the more sweet when the perfectly portable Pop-Tarts came on the scene.

Shawnda Moye, owner of Southern Sweets Cleveland, knows that childhood nostalgia plays an important role in the success of her pastry pockets—a modern, grown-up version of the frosted favorite.

Shawnda’s Southern-born grandmothers influenced her warm and welcoming nature, as well as her interest in cooking, or, more specifically, baking. As a young girl, she’d watch them make distinctly regional desserts, such as sweet potato pie and iced coconut cake. “I tried to learn the recipes by watching. But they didn’t measure anything. My grandma would use a coffee cup to measure, telling me I just have to taste it, and to feel it,” Shawnda said.

Born and raised in Cincinnati, Shawnda’s professional career took her further south to Richmond, Tallahassee, and Atlanta, where she discovered the imposter Pop-Tarts at a coffee shop. She worked the night shift at a bakery to learn the ropes. Once arriving in Cleveland, she decided it was time to make a career change and soon became a protege of Heather Haviland at Lucky’s Cafe.

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Striking out on her own more than a year ago, Shawnda now bakes most afternoons in the Cleveland Bagel Company kitchen in Ohio City. Seeing that no one was making the stuffed toaster pastries here, she saw an opportunity, betting they’d be well received.

It’s hard not to feel the pang of childhood when indulging in one of Shawnda’s pastry pockets, especially the one with blueberry filling, white icing, and sprinkles. It’s familiar, but better than what we might remember. Bite into the flaky homemade crust, stuffed generously with freshly made filling, and you’ll see why it would be hard to go back to the store-bought variety.

“People are first attracted to them because of how they look. The crust, icing, and fillings are made from scratch, so they taste much better than what they remember.”

Shawnda’s tarts come in a variety of flavors, including berry, cinnamon sugar, s’mores, nutter butter, and peanut butter and jelly. They are time-consuming to produce—making and rolling out pie dough, cutting it into squares, stuffing them, and crimping all four sides with a fork before they’re baked. She ices and tops them by hand.

She’s quick to point out that she makes lots of other things too—lemon and raspberry bars, muffins, and all kinds of decadent and delicious cakes. And, being a fan of all things Southern, she is also known for some pop-up barbecue events, where she serves up smoked brisket, mac and cheese, and, of course, more of her signature Southern Sweets, such as peach cobbler and banana cream pie.

Shawnda’s pastries can be found at coffee shops and cafés throughout the area, and she accepts special orders. For more information, visit at SouthernSweetsCle.com.