The First Ever Cheesecake Playoffs

Today is the first day of the Major League Baseball playoffs, but you don’t have to be a baseball fan to enjoy the playoff atmosphere.

In fact, if you love dessert, then our family has a competition worth keeping track of.

Single elimination.  Gloves off.  Full contact.  Competition for the best of the best of the best in cheesecake!

OK – now that you’re all excited about this, let’s start from the beginning…  

At the beginning of 2010, Stephanie, Monroe, and I thought it would be fun to try every cheesecake that The Cheesecake Factory had to offer on their dessert menu.

Yes, every one!

Now, if you’re not familiar with The Cheesecake Factory cheesecake, then shame on you!  Of course, this is what they are famous for, and they have 31 different types of cheesecake on their regular menu, including one that came out at the beginning of the year – Stefanie’s Ultimate Red Velvet Cake Cheesecake.

It turns out that we actually tried 35 different kinds, because some were seasonal (Pumpkin Cheesecake and Pumpkin Pecan Cheesecake, coming out just this past week) and two more that came out this year (Mango Key Lime Cheesecake and Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup Chocolate Cake Cheesecake).

We spent each week through the year getting a piece of cheesecake (and three forks) and bringing it home to taste.  Sometimes, we’d enjoy dinner at The Cheesecake Factory (we like the Factory Chopped Salad – no avocados…) and get a piece of cheesecake for dessert, which can be tough because the meals themselves can be pretty filling…

After we devoured the cheesecake, Stephanie, Monroe, and I would then rank it on a scale from 0 to 10.  It’s taken us nearly nine months to get through the entire menu, but we did it!  And here is how the final tally turned out:

Cheesecake Mic Stephanie Monroe  Total
30th Anniversary Chocolate Cake Cheesecake 9 10 10 29
Adam’s Peanut Butter Cup Fudge Ripple 9 8 10 27
Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup Chocolate Cake Cheesecake 9 7 8 24
Chocolate Mousse Cheesecake 8 7 8 23
Original 7 7 8 22
Fresh Strawberry 7 7 8 22
Pumpkin Cheesecake 8 5 9 22
Godiva Chocolate Cheesecake 8 5 8 21
Tiramisu Cheesecake 8 5 8 21
Chocolate Oreo Mudslide Cheesecake 8 7 6 21
Chocolate Chip Cookie-Dough Cheesecake 6 7 8 21
Oreo Cheesecake 7 7 7 21
White Chocolate Raspberry Truffle 7 5 8 20
Kahlua Cocoa Coffee Cheesecake 7 7 6 20
Wild Blueberry White Chocolate Cheesecake 5 6 9 20
Mango Key Lime Cheesecake 7 6 6 19
Caramel Pecan Turtle Cheesecake 8 5 6 19
Brownie Sundae Cheesecake 7 6 6 19
Snickers Bar Chunks and Chessecake 7 6 5 18
Cherry Cheesecake 8 5 5 18
Fresh Banana Cream Cheesecake 7 3 7 17
White Chocolate Caramel Macadamia Nut Cheesecake 7 5 4 16
Pumpkin Pecan Cheesecake 5 6 5 16
Dulce De Leche Caramel Cheesecake 8 7 0 15
Lemon Raspberry Cream Cheesecake 5 3 5 13
Vanilla Bean Cheesecake 5 5 3 13
Stefanie’s Ultimate Red Velvet Cake Cheesecake 5 5 2 12
Dutch Apple Caramel Streusel 5 3 4 12
Chocolate Tuxedo Cream Cheesecake 5 2 4 11
Chocolate Raspberry Truffle 5 3 3 11
Key Lime Cheesecake 6 1 4 11
Craig’s Crazy Carrot Cake Cheesecake 3 7 1 11
Chocolate Coconut Cream Cheesecake 4 3 3 10
Low Carb Cheesecake 3 1 2 6
Low Carb Cheesecake with Strawberries 3 1 2 6

 

Now, one might conclude that, as far as we’re concerned, the 30th Anniversary Chocolate Cake Cheesecake is by far our favorite, and, of course, the best!  (We all admit – it is fantastic!)

However, America is the land of second chances, so these other cheesecakes deserve a real shot at the title!

(Anyway, I don’t think we’re done enjoying the cheesecake quite yet…)

So, in the spirit of our sports culture, we will be holding the first ever Cheesecake Playoffs!

The top 12 scoring cheesecakes qualify for the playoffs in a single elimination tournament.  The top four (30th Anniversary Chocolate Cake Cheesecake, Adam’s Peanut Butter Cup Fudge Ripple, Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup Chocolate Cake Cheesecake, and Chocolate Mousse Cheesecake) each get a “bye” in the first round (and based on their yumminess, a well-deserved bye…)  This leaves the remaining eight to battle it out to compete against these top seeds.

So, what are the rules?  Simple…  No more rankings – it’s cheesecake vs. cheesecake.  Mano y mano!

Rather than eat one piece of cheesecake, we will eat two in one sitting, and Stephanie, Monroe, and I will each select which of the two is the best.  The cheesecake getting at least two of the three votes advances to the next round.

Here are the seedings as we start the tournament.  After each week’s competition (if we can manage doubling up on the cheesecake…), we’ll announce the winner, and update the tournament brackets.  If everything goes according to plan, the champion will be crowned around the Christmas holiday (just in time to try the Peppermint Bark Cheesecake and see if we should end up starting the whole thing over again in 2011!…)

Wish us luck, and send us your comments!

Interesting items to watch out for in the Second Season

–          Adam’s Peanut Butter Cup Fudge Ripple has been the standard “peanut butter and chocolate” cheesecake offering by The Cheesecake Factory for some time.  However, they recently came out with the Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup Chocolate Cake Cheesecake.  Each ranks high with the Farris family, but their seedings put them in a potential clash in the semifinals.  Watch out for this possible no-holds-barred matchup as we get to the Final Four!

–          The Original Cheesecake Factory cheesecake made a great showing in our cheesecake rankings.  The original Original ranked at the number 5 seed, while the original with strawberry toppings (Fresh Strawberry) made it in as number 6.  You might think that plenty of offerings having exotic flavors and chocolate (mmmm, chocolate…) might push standard, boring ol’ regular cheesecake out of the running.  But, no sirree!  Let’s see how the Original holds up in the playoff battles…

–          The Oreo flavors made quite a splash as well, making up two of the twelve playoff contenders (Oreo Cheesecake and Chocolate Oreo Mudslide Cheesecake).  

–          For a seasonal offering, we were surprised how much we liked the Pumpkin Cheesecake, gaining a well-deserved #7 seed and extended life in the Cheesecake Playoffs…

I currently serve as Director in the Advanced Risk & Compliance Analytics (ARCA) practice at PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC). I've served as Director of Data Science & Analytics Engineering at Areté Associates and in leadership positions with Elanix, Inc. (now Agilent Technologies) and Mentor Graphics. I've served the public as Chair of the Thousand Oaks, CA Planning Commission and now work in New York City. I have been married to my wife Stephanie since 1993, and we have a wonderful daughter Monroe. Learn more about me »

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