Tuscaloosa Woman Wows Locals with White Chocolate Cheesecake
Tammy Smith, the owner of That Cheesecake, created her signature white chocolate cheesecake recipe 24 years ago.
Smith said she has always loved to cook and used to make cakes for family and close friends. Nearly three decades ago, she was asked to make a specific type of cake for a wedding: white chocolate cheesecake.
"[The bride] told me that it was in the Wilton magazine, the picture of what she wanted, and everything and there [was] actually even a recipe in there," Smith said. "And so I got the magazine and made the recipe. And it was the most disgusting thing I've ever eaten in my life."
The wedding was still a year away, so Smith went back to the drawing board and started to research the science behind cheesecakes and compare recipes.
"I tried a bunch of recipes and really didn't find one I liked, so I just started messing around with it. It took me about six months, and I'm just going to say, by sheer dumb luck, I hit this recipe," Smith said. "I've never seen one that's the exact same recipe. I've seen some close but, you know, there's always something missing."
In 2001, Smith opened her catering company, Catering by Tammy Smith, which she closed in 2015 to focus on her family.
"My son was in junior competitive golf and was traveling around, and I needed to make my life easy," she said. "I had a very good, very successful catering business, and I pretty much stepped away from it."
Though her catering company was no longer active, Smith chose to continue pursuing the perfect cheesecake. She said it was something everyone liked, so focusing all of her efforts on cheesecake made her life easier. But, Smith is very particular about what she likes in cheesecake.
"Some cheesecakes, when you bite into them, it kind of sticks to the roof of your mouth when you try to swallow. It's just kind of like it's a lump, and you just can't swallow it," she said.
Smith has made other flavors like dark chocolate, pumpkin spice swirl, and dark chocolate swirl cheesecake, but they were never as popular as white chocolate.
"I actually had a dark chocolate one, but I wasn't super happy with it. So I actually quit selling it to [Southern Ale House] and sold them this one," Smith said. "I wasn't pleased with the texture of the dark chocolate one but this one is by far the one everyone wants, hands down."
Smith's cheesecakes are available at Southern Ale House, Mark's Mart and the Tuscaloosa Rivermarket. While she has been contacted by other individuals interested in selling her cheesecake, Smith says she is not interested.
"I've talked to the health department about it, and when you start selling to more than two locations – the Rivermarket doesn't count – I have to have a different kind of license and all that kind of stuff, and I'm just not interested in doing that," she said.
Her current production is a workflow that Smith is very comfortable with, and while she says the journey has been a crazy one, she is happy to provide such a well-received – and tasty – service to her community.
"It's very humbling to make something that people appreciate, and I never expected anybody to like it right off the bat because everybody's different, but I certainly do appreciate when people enjoy it," Smith said. "I've had a much bigger successful response to it than I ever could imagine."