It wasn’t very long ago that we reviewed the Landmark Inn’s Capers Restaurant. As you may recall (if not, you can read the review here), we had a lot of good things about this little gem that is tucked away inside the historic hotel. What we didn’t mention was that the Landmark Inn is also home to Joe’s Cakes, owned and operated by Joe Heck.
In the Upper Peninsula, you’re never too far from a good pie or a slice of dessert happiness, but when it comes to the level of quality and preparation that Heck brings to the game there aren’t very many pie cases that can compare. Heck is a bit of an import. You see, he hails from that great state of New York, where he picked up a love for cooking thanks to his grandmother. She must have taught him that love is an important ingredient in every recipe, because it’s obvious with each and every bite you take of his marvelous desserts that Heck loves his creations and his career.
It’s the Bombe
The very first dessert I ever tasted of Heck’s was his Chocolate Raspberry Bombe–an insanely good chocolate cake that is moist and flavorful. The secret is in the ingredients, no doubt, one of which is Chambord–a raspberry liqueur. I’m not a fan of raspberries (it’s the seeds far more than it’s the taste), but Joe’s Cakes has managed to find a way to make them very palatable for me. Frankly, I’m beginning to wonder if maybe I should just have Joe Heck try to make desserts out of everything I don’t like eating. I’m sure he’d be able to turn anything into a scrumptious dessert. The Chocolate Raspberry Bombe is layered with dark chocolate fudge, chocolate butter cream and white lace topped with fresh, whole raspberries. It’s all the good things in life, put together, stacked up and served as a slice on your plate.
Cheesecake of the Month
Right now Heck is doing something quite amazing–well, it’s not world shattering or earth shaking, it’s just impressive. He’s creating and offering a whole new style of cheesecake each and every month. Sure, you can probably get that kind of deal in a metropolitan area, but in the Upper Peninsula it’s a whole lot rarer to come by. Heck is a master at making a cheesecake, too. The beauty of it is that he uses eight bricks of cream cheese in each and every cake. For those who didn’t do the math automatically in their head, that measures to two pounds.
Heck then makes masterful flavor decisions, combining things like chocolate, caramel and pecans or creating a fruit topping that enhances the flavor of each and every bite. It’s likely that because he was trained at the Culinary Institute of American, located in Manhattan, and then baked for Classic Cakes for nearly 13 years in the same area that he has come to know the New York cheesecake as intimately as most of us get to know our best friends. He knows how to dress them up, make them look pretty and he definitely knows how to make them stand out in a crowd.
Pick a cheesecake at Joe’s Cakes–any cheesecake–and you can’t go wrong.
Sour Cream in a Pie?
When Heck told me he was bringing me a slice of Sour Cream Apple Walnut pie, I almost told him that it was OK and that I was full. I mean, c’mon–sour cream in a pie? Not really my kind of weird contraption.
Well, I’m sure glad that I felt the need to try whatever Heck wanted me to try. His pie put all other apple pies I have ever–and I mean ever–had right to shame. It is the single most amazing apple pie I’ve ever had. ”The sour cream gets mixed around in there and when it bakes it mixes with the sugars coming out of the apples and makes something much like custard,” he told me.
He also mentioned that this recipe is one of his grandmother’s originals–untouched to fit modern flair or to make it look any different. I’ll be honest when I say that it’s an ugly, ugly pie. But like so many things in this world, I would have been a fool to judge it by its outward appearance. Each bite is savory and delicious and packed full of so much flavor that your taste buds will beg you to grab your fork and keep eating, no matter how full you already are.
This pie is a must have for anyone who likes apple pie. Scratch that–it’s a must have for anyone who likes dessert. It’s one of the most delicious things I have ever eaten, and one glance at me will tell you that I have eaten a whole lot in my lifetime. With one Sour Cream Apple Walnut pie, Heck has changed the way I view the world of desserts. Go big–in both flavor and in care in making it–or go home.
U.P. for Dessert
Quite frankly, Heck offers up the single best selection of desserts in Marquette, if not the entire Upper Peninsula. Stop in, have a cup of coffee and enjoy yourself a little slice of heaven on a plate.
230 North Front Street, Marquette