If you aren’t currently sitting down, take a seat immediately, because you’re about to be blown away by the most spectacular cheesecake on Earth.
This breathtaking chocolate mountain is a salted caramel brownie cheesecake from Artisan Cheesecakes in Bathgate, West Lothian, Scotland. It’s just one of hundreds of options available. The small, family-run chain (they recently opened a second café in Edinburgh) has been blowing up on Instagram lately thanks to its lavishly decorated, huge, and creative cheesecakes, which are all freshly made by hand and stacked high with toppings.
This is one of its most popular creations: an Eton Mess cheesecake topped with meringues, whipped cream, and strawberries, drizzled with fresh strawberry sauce.
Don’t you just want to dive right in?
The cakes are the handiwork of owner Wendy McQueen and her team, which includes her son Mark. Wendy told BuzzFeed: “When we first opened in 2013 we didn’t have a café area. One day, someone came in asking if they could have a coffee. I said to Mark: ‘We’ll have to buy a kettle!’ He rolled his eyes, then bought a fancy espresso machine. After that, it all seemed to snowball.”
Since then, Artisan Cheesecakes has developed over 250 different flavours of cheesecake, which it sells on a rotating basis.
“Our most popular product is Scottish tablet cheesecake,” Wendy said. “Our Tunnock’s Teacake cake [pictured] is a fan favourite too. We top a creamy cocoa base with piles of teacakes and drizzle chocolate all over it. On any given day we have around 15 freshly made cakes in our two cafés. We come up with new flavours all the time, so there are always new varieties to try.”
The company also sells homemade marshmallows, meringues, and cheesecake milkshakes made by blending any available slice of cheesecake with ice cream.
Fancy a slice of millionaire’s shortbread cheesecake blended with chocolate ice cream, and topped with caramel sauce and chocolate marshmallows? Or perhaps you’d prefer a summery slice of mixed berry cheesecake blended with vanilla ice cream, and topped with elderflower marshmallows? The possibilities are endless. As if that wasn’t enough, they also sell cheesecake fondue for two as well: a plate of cheesecake, marshmallows, meringues, and fruit, served with melted chocolate to dip them in.
Some of the cheesecakes are even more unusual than others.
Wendy continues: “We sell red velvet cheesecake, which uses a red velvet sponge (instead of biscuit) as the base; it’s topped with shards of white chocolate. In the summer we make small, boozy, cocktail-filled cheesecakes: piña colada, peach bellini, limoncello, and mojito. Then there’s our pastry-covered apple strudel cheesecake as well. I can’t seem to stop coming up with new ideas!”
Wendy was encouraged to launch the business by her husband and two sons, who had been enjoying her baking for years.
“My family have always loved my cheesecakes, so they encouraged me to set up a business. The night before we were due to open I lay awake all night wondering what on Earth I’d been thinking. I felt sure it would be a flop! But as soon as we opened all the locals in Bathgate came in to wish us luck. It was lovely; they’ve been so supportive. I’m so glad we chose to open here first.”
Wendy admits that she has no idea how many calories are in her range of products.
She laughed when we asked about the calorie content of her giant, creamy slabs of cheesecake. “I have to say I don’t know. We want them to be indulgent so we do make them with full-fat cheese and the most luxurious ingredients we can find. We also serve really large portions: Some people end up cutting them in half! As with anything, you should just enjoy our products in moderation.”
In short: Just treat yo’ self.
You definitely won’t regret it.
Artisan Cheesecakes is based at 104 Bruntsfield Place Edinburgh EH10 4ES, and 87 South Bridge Street Bathgate EH48 1TJ.