Free Muddy Paws Cheesecake tasting on Wednesday

Reese's Peanut Butter Cheesecake from Muddy Paws will be one of the 20 flavors available at Wednesday's cheesecake tasting.

Reese's Peanut Butter Cheesecake from Muddy Paws will be one of the 20 flavors available at Wednesday's cheesecake tasting.

Muddy Paws Cheesecake owner Tami Cabrera has done a lot of funky things to cheesecake, but it was the Nerds candy request that gave her a moment's pause.

Yet she plunged into creating that cake with the same enthusiasm she's sustained for developing more than 200 other flavors--and (not surprisingly) succeeded. "We tried it, and it was really good," Cabrera reports.

With more than 222 flavors, along with vegan and gluten-free options, when it comes to making cheesecake, it's pretty hard to play stump-the-baker at Muddy Paws.

Twin Cities dessert lovers can sample some of Muddy Paws greatest successes at its 18th annual holiday tasting and toy/pet food drive from 4:30 to 8:30 p.m. Wednesday (December 8) at Muddy Paws Cheesecake (7600 W. 27th St., Common B, St. Louis Park). We caught up with Cabrera to chat about the cheesecake tasting and some of her most unusual flavors (Deadhead cheesecake, anyone?).


Muddy Paws' annual sampling began 18 years ago - before Muddy Paws Cheesecake had officially opened - in Cabrera's house. She invited about 50 friends over, asked them to bring a toy for charity and provided a spread of her soon-to-be famous cheesecakes.

Over the years, the event has grown - last year's crowd topped 500 people - and the party has evolved to include live music and a holiday bazaar featuring a variety of vendors. Event-goers are asked to bring an unopened bag of pet food for The Pet Project or a new, unwrapped toy for STEP and Perspectives Family Center. "I try to seek out places for the toy drive that really need it," Cabrera says.

In addition to the 20 flavors of cheesecake available for sampling, cheesecake is also available by the slice or the cake. Muddy Paws, which cranks out about 140 cheesecakes a day, will also be accepting holiday orders for all of its 222 flavors (and counting) of cheesecake.

Muddy Paws extensive menu started with just 10 solid flavors and slowly grew to 60, but the flavor explosion can be traced to a 2003 appearance on the Food Network. Hundreds and hundreds of flavor requests poured in from around the country, Cabrera says. As she started experimenting with suggestions, Muddy Paws' menu reaped the benefits, and now Cabrera is known for turning customer's dreams into cheesecake reality. Just last month she whipped up a Salted Peanut Roll cheesecake and a Nut Goodie Bar cheesecake--two flavors so delicious she couldn't believe she hadn't tried them before.

Some cheesecakes are inspired by musicians, like the Elvis (a peanut butter and banana cheesecake suggested by a foodie in Memphis) and the Deadhead (a tie-dyed cheesecake whipped up for Grateful Dead fans' wedding). Others are inspired by happy hour--think Tequila Lime or Margarita or Baily's Irish Cream. And plenty are inspired by candy bars or popular desserts. This time of year, Muddy Paws does brisk business with its candy cane, eggnog, and Andes Mint cheesecakes. Cabrera's personal favorites include the key lime, espresso Kahlua, and mango cheesecakes.

Cabrera says the secret to great-tasting cheesecakes is making the cakes with all-natural ingredients. She uses real fruit in fruity cheesecakes and real liquor in drink-inspired cakes, avoiding artificial flavorings.