The Big Sandy Mountaineer -

Charlotte's Cheesecakes a big hit at Pep's


October 21, 2020

A few weeks ago, I ordered dinner for the family from Pep's. When I walked in the door with the pizza box and 3 styrofoam to-go containers my kids dug into the pizza with gusto, each eating as quick as they could to ensure they'd get a little more than the other two kids. When my wife and I finished our sandwiches, I opened the last container to reveal four slices of cheesecake. The kids are normally excited to get Pep's for dinner, and my family each has their favorites from Josh's menu. The sight of our dessert sent them over the moon. The boys each grabbed a slice of chocolate covered cheesecake, while my daughter and I enjoyed our mixed berry slices. With the recent addition of cheesecake to their menu, Pep's has become the only diner in town with a dessert option. Charlotte Broekhuysen Stansberry, Pep's resident baker, explains the choice to add cheesecake to Pep's regular offerings: "It's something I really enjoy, and it's a good thing to have on the menu. Because you can make it any type of flavor you want, all different ages, types of people, and palates can enjoy it. I'd also like to incorporate a chocolate torte in the menu, but I just haven't had time. I make about 6 to 8 cheesecakes a week. I stay busy."

The popularity of the cheesecake is no accident. It is delicious. It is light, smooth, slightly tangy, not too dense, with just the right amount of sweetness. The perfection of her recipe is a product of a long process of tinkering with the recipe. Charlotte explains: "There are a lot of different recipes out there, and I have worked in a lot of bakeries that would make New York Style Cheesecakes, and I've researched recipes. Like, I add a little bit of lemon juice to make it a bit acidic. I try to pull from multiple sources. It's an enjoyable process. It's really easy. There's only five ingredients to a cheesecake. What's really fun is that you can make it any flavor that you want." The work toward perfecting her recipe hasn't been a trial, as she points out: "I've never eaten so much cheesecake in my life."

Charlotte has enjoyed baking and cooking from a young age. As a child in South Africa, she and her sister made milk tarts together, a dessert Pep's has offered on several occasions. "As a kid, we would always center everything around the kitchen and food. So, I just grew up really enjoying it... Learning how to cook and bake and all that." That love for cooking has continued into her adult years. After graduating from MSU in 2004, Charlotte worked making pottery for several companies in Bozeman. In addition, she "worked as a baker in Bozeman for a long time, too. I just really enjoy it. It's soothing. It's nice to please other people with yummy treats. It's a very satisfying process from start to finish."

Though she has excelled in the art of cheesecake making, Charlotte's all time favorite dessert is tiramisu, which she has only made on a few occasions. Though she is not a fan of pumpkin spice in general, she has developed a love for pumpkin spice cheesecake, which is a more recent creation for Pep's fall menu. She explained that any other time of year, pumpkin spice cheesecake sits in the fridge, rarely ordered. However, when the weather and the leaves start to turn, it grows to one of their most popular dessert orders. After pumpkin spice, berry and chocolate are consistent favorites in Big Sandy.

Charlotte moved to Big Sandy in 2016 and has grown to love our little town. She explained that in part this is due to her love for Josh Danruther, but also because "There's a comfort level here because you always see somebody you know and somebody always has a minute to stop and chat or wave as you go by. There's a comfort level to that. It's nice." Josh explains that in addition to yummy desserts, Charlotte has brought her own influence to the menu. Her palate and experience cooking has influenced how things taste.

Charlotte summed up her experience in Big Sandy so far: "I've really enjoyed working here, meeting everyone in town, and feeding people cheesecake."


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