ELLSWORTH — Need a cheesecake fix?
Brenda “Momo” Ledezma, who does business as Momo’s Cheesecakes, can hook you up.
“I love to make desserts,” said Ledezma, who works full-time as a bartender at China Hill restaurant on High Street in Ellsworth.
China Hill was where her cheesecake business was born and she said she thanks the restaurant’s owner William Liang for letting her start making desserts and her husband, Andres Ledezma, for his help with the business.
Ledezma started making cheesecakes and selling individual slices for China Hill customers three years ago. But single slices weren’t enough to satisfy a growing customer base who wanted whole confections.
“I didn’t want to be there on my days off so I started making them at home,” Ledezma said. She got licensed by the state to operate a home food business in August.
“It was easier than I thought it would be,” she said of the process. Incidentally, the cheesecakes are made in a commercial kitchen that Ledezma and her husband created in a room overlooking the backyard, where they have a robust garden.
The Steuben native learned how to bake from her mother, Theresa Stanwood.
“She was always making pies or coffee cake or something,” Ledezma said. “We always had dessert at home. Dad [Charles Leach] would say, ‘it’s all in the presentation. Everything’s got to look good.’”
Ledezma first started baking pies at China Hill but switched to cheesecakes, which she said are much sturdier and have a longer shelf life.
Pies get soggy after a couple of days, Ledezma said. “A homemade cheesecake can last a couple weeks. You can freeze a cheesecake and when you take it out it tastes just as good.”
Of course, that depends on the household. Some families can polish off a cheesecake in a day.
“It’s a dessert everybody loves and you can do all kinds of flavors,” Ledezma said.
Ledezma makes many different kinds that often are candy and fruit inspired. Here’s a partial list: Snickers, cookies and cream, confetti, blueberry, strawberry, cherry, raspberry, pistachio, Heath and Reese’s peanut butter cup.
Pistachio, strawberry and Heath are some of her most popular.
Of course, she also makes holiday-themed cheesecakes. Pumpkin and pumpkin chocolate chip for Halloween and Thanksgiving as well as candy cane for Christmas.
Customers can find individually packaged slices of cheesecake at China Hill, KOA in Bar Harbor, the Coffee Cup in Bar Harbor, Simons Hancock Farms, Ravens Nest in Winter Harbor, Perry’s Lobster Shack in Surry and Global Beverage Warehouse in Ellsworth.
You also can call Ledezma to order whole cheesecakes.
Plain cheesecakes are $25 or $30 if it has berries or candy. Anything with nuts, like pistachio or turtle, is $35.
Ledezma will do special requests too.
She made 300 miniature cheesecakes for a family member’s wedding.
Ledezma’s tips for making your own cheesecake include whipping the cheesecake mixture slowly to avoid getting too many air bubbles inside. Air bubbles lead to a cracked cheesecake.
Also, baking a cheesecake in a water bath is essential as is letting the dessert cool down in the oven for an hour.
Like baking cookies, Ledezma recommends having ingredients at room temperature ingredients to start.
“If your cream cheese isn’t soft, it gets big chunks in it,” she explained.
In case you’re wondering, “Momo” stands for motor mouth, which was what a China Hill manager nicknamed Ledezma when there were two women named Brenda working at the restaurant.
“When I started doing cheesecakes, nobody knew my real name so I started doing them as ‘Momo.’”