There’s more to this cheesecake than meets the taste buds.
“I take a lot of pride in my cheesecake,” Kurt Anderson says. “It’s my new full-time career.” Along with serving part-time with the Chaska Fire Department, bartending at Eden Prairie's Bearpath Golf and Country Club for weddings and special events and serving as an ordained minister for well over a dozen weddings, Anderson is building his dessert business one brick of cream cheese at a time.
“The word-of-mouth is really helping a lot,” Anderson says of his growing business. Speaking of words—in classic Minnesota/Nordic reserved fashion, he calls his business Pretty Great Cheesecake—not Amazingly Great Cheesecake or Bring You to Your Knees Cheesecake. He admits that “pretty great” less than accurately describes his sweet desserts. “It’s really great, but we’re modest,” Anderson says.
While requests are taken, standing choices include banana cream, birthday cake, German chocolate (This writer’s favorite of those sampled.), pumpkin (made with real, roasted pumpkin), s’mores (a top seller) and white chocolate with chocolate/mint swirl. Let’s discuss the brunch cheesecake, which begins with a buttermilk blueberry pancake crust, followed by a maple syrup/pancake batter filling, topped with maple syrup, whipped cream and thick cut, candied maple bacon. (Can we all just pause for a collective sigh?) “It’s so good with a mimosa,” Anderson says. Cheers to that!
Anderson’s business operates out of a food truck, mostly because it came with a commercial kitchen. He’s in the process of getting all the I’s dotted and T’s crossed, so he can hit the road to sell his full size, mini and individually-sized cheesecakes around the Twin Cities. He’s also working to connect with local restaurants to feature his desserts. (Currently, Anderson’s desserts are available through his website.)
Courtesy of Kurt Anderson
Anderson studied restaurant management at the University of Wisconsin-Stout, where he took cooking classes and realized his passion for the culinary arts. He’s not alone in that. His wife, Carrie Paetow-Anderson, and her family regularly submit baked goods to the Minnesota State Fair and county fairs. Quick breads. Cakes. Cookies. Paetow-Anderson even has a shoebox of ribbons to show for her efforts. Anderson entered the State Fair in 2017 and won a blue ribbon right out of the gate in the Bee and Honey Division for his honey cheesecake, using locally sourced honey.
Growing up in Minong, Wis., Anderson recalls his mother, Mary Jane Anderson’s, traditional baking efforts. “I have a great respect for my mother,” he says, noting, “Her cinnamon rolls are famous in our hometown.” He also respects the power of dessert and its important role of bringing a meal to a comforting, sweet conclusion. “My favorite part of making a cheesecake is watching people eat it,” Anderson says. “That’s where the passion comes from, watching people enjoy something I created.”