- Associated Press - Saturday, December 19, 2015

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. (AP) - When Teresa Gibbons isn’t patrolling the streets of Martinsburg in her police uniform, she can be found with an apron tied around her waist and a spatula in her hand.

The Martinsburg police officer owns Everything Cheesecake, a specialty cheesecake bakery on W. Stephens Street in Martinsburg, with her husband, Erin, another officer.

It’s a difficult balance, to say the least, since the two work different shifts and also have four children between the ages of eight and 18, but to Teresa, it’s worth it.

“I have a passion for both,” she said. “If I could do both completely full time that would be awesome, but there’s not enough time.”

What Teresa lacks in time, though, she makes up for in her cheesecake, which is so good it’s worth traveling great distances for.

Since Teresa and Erin don’t ship or deliver their product at this time, customers have journeyed from Pennsylvania, South Carolina, even across the ocean to get a slice.

“They come from far,” Teresa said. “We had a guy come in that was visiting from England. He found us on Trip Advisor.”

Everything Cheesecake is the No. 1 rated Martinsburg restaurant on the popular travel site. It also has five stars on Yelp, and a 4.8 rating on Facebook.

Not bad for a woman who made her very first cheesecake five years ago.

“It’s weird that I got into it; I never thought that cheesecake would be my thing,” Teresa said. “I always really liked to bake, but I had never baked cheesecake ever before.”

She started with family gatherings, but things quickly escalated. The couple opened a storefront in 2014.

“It had gotten so crazy that by the fourth year I had to decide if I wanted to stay at the department or if should I run with this,” Teresa said. “I knew it was kind of a neat idea, because we didn’t have any other specialty cheesecake shops around here.”

Teresa ended up resigning from the force after the opening but returned after a year, and she doesn’t have plans to leave again.

“Once I had (the shop) kind of running without me, I went back,” she said. “I want to do both.”

Teresa’s cheesecakes aren’t your typical store-bought or semi-homemade cheesecake, either.

“I come up with some crazy flavors,” she said. Her pecan pie cheesecake, for instance, has a traditional crust with chunks of pecan pie baked inside the cheesecake batter.

“We try to do seasonal, and I always try to use fresh ingredients,” she added.

This month, they’re rotating in some seasonal flavors like red velvet brownie batter, eggnog, made with a snickerdoodle cookie crust, gingerbread (complete with gingerbread man on top), traditional red velvet, and the most popular flavor this time of year, a white chocolate candy cane cheesecake on an Oreo crust with crushed candy canes on top.

“I will say that 60 percent of people who come in will get it,” Teresa said.

Everything is made from scratch, including the various crusts, which makes for a lengthy process.

On a typical day at the shop, Teresa or Erin will make five or six different flavors of cheesecake, and the selections change daily.

“We don’t really have a schedule. There’s no rhyme or reason. It’s basically whatever comes to mind,” Teresa said.

“The only flavors that we keep are the New York Style and the Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup, because those are the most versatile. There’s always something that someone will like.”

“Even if you don’t like cheesecake, you’ll have to try it,” Erin added.

The process takes about 15 hours from start to finish. First, ingredients have to get to room temperature or the cheesecake just won’t come out right.

Once everything is mixed together, the batter is put into the oven to bake for about an hour and a half.

“The trick to the cheesecakes is that they have to be baked in a water bath,” Teresa said. “That’s what keeps them from cracking.”

The cheesecakes remain in the oven for another 35 to 45 minutes with the temperature off, then are removed and allowed to sit for another 35 to 45 minutes before finally being put in the fridge for about 12 hours.

“If I put one in after the other I could probably do about five rounds, or about 20 cheesecakes in a day, but that is one of us staying from early in the morning until late at night,” Teresa said. “When we first opened, that’s what we were doing. We couldn’t keep up with everything that was going on, and we were selling out.”

Each batch of cheesecakes is sliced and decorated by hand the next morning for sale that same day. Whatever is left over, which isn’t very much, gets distributed in the community.

“Because we’re both law enforcement, we donate to the 911 centers, to the different law enforcement agencies, a lot of first responders, and we do a lot of discounts for them, too, as an added bonus,” Teresa said.

Everything Cheesecake also has Black Dog Coffee, roasted in nearby Shenandoah Junction, and a small selection of other pastries.

“I try to keep a little something besides the cheesecake, but nothing that’s going to take away from the cheesecake because it’s time-consuming and that’s our main thing,” Teresa said.

Everything Cheesecake is open Tuesday through Thursday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m, Friday from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Custom orders are available for an additional fee. Pick-up only. Visit www.face book.com/Everythingcheese cake or call 304-350-1567 for more information.

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Information from: The Charleston Gazette-Mail, http://wvgazettemail.com.

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