No praise is too lavish to heap on Tami Cabrera’s cheesecakes. They are the objectification of perfection in dessert form. Do not bother asking Tami how she accomplishes this. She will freely confess that she uses only the best ingredients, without filler or preservatives, but their origins and how she bakes her cheesecakes are not information you could pry from her. Until the day comes when the CIA determines Tami’s recipe is a matter of national security, it will remain untold.
“I grew up around cheesecake,” said Tami, owner of Muddy Paws Cheesecake. “My parents always had restaurants and hotels, so I began baking at a very young age to help out. This led me to believe that cheesecake was everywhere. But when I moved to Minneapolis, I couldn’t find it, so I started baking my own just for fun.”
Tami used to bring her cheesecakes into her office to improve morale and make her coworkers like her. One day she served cheesecake to a group of her firm’s vendors, who were more than happy to be plied as such. They all wanted to buy cakes from her. Tami perceived a niche that only her singular cheesecake could fill, and resolved to fill it.
“There was a fork in the road, and I chose the cheesecake path,” Tami continued. “I took some entrepreneur classes, started my first legally licensed kitchen, and managed a pet store at night so I could make money to support the new bakery. I still groom my original clients’ dogs on Sundays. After doing that for a while, I took a big gamble and put all of my money on a full page ad in a wedding magazine. That ad netted 17 weddings in my first year, which springboarded me into business full-time.”
Tami would eventually open up multiple locations, but found they stretched her too thin to focus on making her cheesecakes as good as they could be. Such a thing requires care, so she let all of her leases run out and moved everything into one aqua colored building tucked away in St. Louis Park. It is not a cafe in any sense. You would most want to go to Muddy Paws’ location to speak with Tami about how you can curl your guests’ toes with better cheesecake than they’ve ever had before.
“In addition to the ingredients that I won’t tell you about, a lot of work goes into my cheesecakes,” said Tami. “One batch can take 40 to 50 hours from start to finish. If I charged as much as I could reasonably get away with, it would make great cheesecake inaccessible. That’s why I don’t make a lot of money doing this. I just want to be the person who changes the world one cheesecake at a time, and you can’t do that with crappy cheesecake.”
Muddy Paws Cheesecake started out with ten flavors. With different requests and suggestions from people along the way, that number eventually ballooned to 222. (There are actually 622 flavors available, but Tami’s website would crash if it had that many listed on it.) Their most popular flavor is raspberry swirl — made with real raspberries, of course — followed by turtle, strawberry, key lime, and chocolate. There are also Bananas Foster, Bailey’s chocolate swirl, caramel pecan, orange dreamsickle, praline chocolate chip, white chocolate chunk macadamia nut, and date cheesecakes. I am no expert, but it seems to me that if it is possible to convey a flavor through cheesecake, Tami can.
If would like to experience the mastery of Tami’s craft for yourself, you can go to her bakery at 3359 Gorham Ave in St. Louis Park between 10:00am and 2:00pm on any day but Sunday. (That day is for grooming dogs.) Several flavors are available there by the slice, which you’ll be advised to let sit for 25 minutes so that it can thaw to the ideal consistency. Visiting Muddy Paws Cheesecake for such recon may very well prove to be the best part of planning a wedding or other special event. To learn more about Tami’s mission, please visit muddypawscheesecake.com.
By David Scheller