Fat and Happy: Turning an Insult Into an ‘Empire’

Donna McCue offers a fix of her Fat Ass Fudge and other associated treats at Bay Burger’s winter market and online. Bridget LeRoy

   It’s fairly common knowledge by now that, as the band Queen sings, “fat-bottomed girls, they make the rockin’ world go ’round,” but can the same be said for confectionery?
    According to Donna McCue, whose East Hampton business, Fat Ass Fudge, has been on a steady spread for the past four years, the answer is yes.
    Ms. McCue has been known in the Hamptons for her work as an intuitive for over 25 years, which included a stint as a columnist for Hamptons magazine and the publication of a book — “Your Fate Is in Your Hands” — by Simon and Schuster. But it was during a family reunion for her 60th birthday that her life took a new and unexpected direction.
    Her eight brothers and sisters flew in from all over for the celebration, for which Ms. McCue made the fudge she had been making for herself for years. “It was my English grandmother’s recipe, but I kicked it up about 100 notches.” She changed the generic ingredients supplied in the recipe to the best of the best — 72 percent pure dark Belgian chocolate and organic goat’s milk and butter, which is better stomached by those with lactose intolerance. She also made the recipe gluten free.
    When one of her brothers suggested that she sell the stuff, and asked her what she would name her company, she sassed, “I would call it what you called me growing up — Fat Ass.”
    “And that’s ‘How I Turned an Insult Into an Empire,’ ” Ms. McCue said on Saturday morning. One can hear the capital letters implied by the former comedian and talk show host as she plans the title of her fantasy autobiography.
    Her empire right now consists of farmers markets and a few local exchanges, along with her Fudgemobile — a Scion sporting her trademarked Fat Ass donkey. But her available wares have grown from fudge in its different forms — this month heart-shaped fudge is all the rage for obvious reasons — to include other sweets as well, all handmade by Ms. McCue. At Saturday’s East End Fair Foods Market held each winter weekend at the temporarily-closed Bay Burger in Sag Harbor, her table is filled with truffles, dark chocolate sauces, fudge, brownies, English toffee, and popcorn drizzled with fresh caramel and chocolate.
    “Do you know what the difference is between men and chocolate?” Ms. McCue said. “Chocolate never disappoints.”
    When she began her cottage industry, Ms. McCue was working at the now-defunct Della Femina Restaurant, answering phones. “They opened their kitchen to me,” she said. Now she uses the new Dreesen’s location on Lumber Lane in East Hampton. An unasked-for gift of seed money from her publicist set her on her way.
    When people need a Fat Ass fix and can’t find a farmers market, Ms. McCue also sells her products, including little one-bite morsels called Ass Kissers, online at fat-assfudge.com.
    “One a day keeps the doctor away,” the Web site boasts.
    Seasonal favorites include a pumpkin spice fudge in the fall, and peppermint fudge during the winter holidays. Another favorite, a ricotta fudge made with cheese from Mecox Bay Dairy in Bridgehampton, “is like heaven,” Ms. McCue said. When she makes it, it sells out immediately.
    The fresh and organic ingredients are expensive, and the product is delicate and needs temperature control, so portions tend to be small, but Ms. McCue is confident that “a little Fat Ass goes a long way.”
    With her budding company, Ms. McCue said she has finally found her calling. “It combines all the things I love and know about from my life: creativity, alchemy, making things both as healthy and as decadent as I can,” she said with a laugh.
    What does the future hold for Fat Ass? “I would love to have a Fat Ass Cafe in East Hampton,” she said. One can see the wheels turning as Ms. McCue smiles and plans her next big venture. “The slogan can be, ‘Come in and sit your Fat Ass down.’ ”