You can go the rabbit hole route or follow the yellow brick road if you wish,but all tasty roads lead to Mad Batter Cheesecakes, which opened its doors at Virginia Street for Mother’s Day.
The coronavirus pandemic put a big speed bump on the store’s road, but owner Brittani Riccio pushed onward until she was able to expand and open the full retail bakery.
“I’m not sure I’m able to word the feelings about pushing through COVID circumstances and still finding a way to expand and open my full retail bakery in the midst of a pandemic, but if I had to start somewhere it’d be pride,” she wrote in answer to email questions. “Pride in my community, my fellow entrepreneurs, and myself all coming together to support each other emotionally and financially.”
Riccio recently had a book signing and face painting at the store, which is also home to Lacey’s Little Bakery, Weed’s Sweet Shoppe, Sweet Spot Cakes & More, MaryJanes, Punkin Tater Designs, Mystic Carvings, and Shower Sweets, soaps that look like desserts. Punkin Tater raises funds for stem cell therapy for Hagen, who was born dead three years ago but was saved and helped to thrive through stem cell therapy.
The store, located at 1 Virginia Place, Ste. A, is open from 4:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday; 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday; and 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Sunday. For more information, call 361-935-2253, visit their web page at www.madbattercheesecakes.com or find them on Facebook.
“Things haven’t progressed the way I intended, but every day we get a little closer. I’ve grown my staff, my menu, and helped other bakers grow their dreams,” she stated.
Having other bakers and other women-owned businesses under her roof helps Riccio to make her dream come true.
“I’ve always had a vision to help other women achieve their dream baking business. I believe everyone needs someone to believe in them the way I believe in myself,” she stated. “I rent out kitchen space to local bakers that want to jump to that next level, going from a hobby baker to full-time income and serving our community as a team providing the best specialty gourmet desserts while doing something we are all extremely passionate about.”
Riccio experiments with flavors and has 150 flavors to choose from for cheesecakes. In addition, she is creating a savory line that includes lobster and, oddly enough, a bacon-flavored caramel that is put to good use.
“My husband refuses to eat cheesecake, so I created the savory lobster, and the customers like it as well,” she said.
Boston crème pie is her personal favorite of all the flavors. Riccio’s German Chocolate is inspired by her grandmother’s recipe.
The bakery is now open for breakfast and offers a wide range of foods to satisfy the morning cravings.
Riccio started baking cheesecakes as a means to make money when her husband was laid off. She started with eight flavors, thinking she might get a few orders. She received 30 orders over a two-week period, and things took off from there.
“I come from generations of excellent home bakers on both sides of my family, so a lot of it was a natural instinct,” she stated. “In junior high, I began experimenting more with cheesecakes, and creating all the flavors quickly became an addiction.”
Riccio attended college rather than culinary school and believed “I wasn’t good enough to be the ‘real deal’ in the food industry,” she stated. “I believed this and kept my dreams buried until November 8, 2017, when I accidentally started Mad Batter Cheesecakes & Dessert Bar.”
As things began to take off, Riccio said she got all the required licenses to operate in a food truck but quickly outgrew that. She then converted a garage apartment into a commercial kitchen that was open to the public about a year and a half before opening her current storefront on Virginia Street.
“I quit my full-time job (with the U.S. Post Office) in November to do this full time and have been able to maintain even through the coronavirus,” Riccio said.
Even though the name Mad Batter reminds one of a great novel, “Alice in Wonderland,” that is not the inspiration for the name. It came more from her quirky and eclectic spirit that was creating batter for great cheesecakes.
“They are all unique. I don’t believe in a base recipe as I think each cheesecake needs a different start,” she said.
“My bakery is my safe haven, the most inner, truest parts of my personality that I’m able to share with you. When creating a new recipe, an event, or any other of my numerous shenanigans, I block out all the opinions, traditional methods, and right ways to do the things, and I create from a space of what feels right to me,” Riccio stated. “What would five-year-old me do if the world wasn’t listening?”
So, when you go to the Mad Batter Facebook or website to see what flavors are available and what’s on the menu for the day, think Willy Wonka meets Audrey Hepburn, and you have the Mad Batter chef.