The next time you dine at B.B. Kings Blues Club & Grill be sure to save room for desert because Baldwin “Johnny” Shield’s Jamaican Blue Mountain Coffee and Rum and Raisin cheesecakes are now on the menu. B.B. Kings is located at 237 W 42nd St. New York, NY 10036.
I became hooked on cheesecake (years ago) the minute a popular Brooklyn based brand landed on my tongue. The love affair that developed after was intense and deep and a trip to New York City would not have been productive or worthwhile if it didn’t include a stop at my favorite cheesecake place. When the cravings were really bad, I would make the two hour trip by train or by car just for one slice of this heavenly desert. All those years of sampling New York cheesecake has made me somewhat of an authority on the desert. So when my friend Karaine called me this summer, literally out of breath raving about what she called Jamaican cheesecake that she tried at a fundraising event in New York, I was curious.
Jamaican styled cheesecake (as Karaine called it) is the creation of Baldwin “Johnny” Shields (registered as Johnny Baldwin Cheesecakes based in Montclair, New Jersey) and his wife Tricia, fellow Jamaican’s who now make their home in New Jersey. Legend has it that Mr. Shields was recruited by his wife to help with the baking which she dabbled with during the holiday season. According to their bio, Tricia showed him what to do so he could assist in lightening her load and it was at that point that he became hooked. It wasn’t long before he started experimenting with new ideas and in doing so, he created deserts using ingredients and flavor profiles that are distinctly Jamaican. These include: Kingston Dragon Stout Cheesecake, Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee cheesekcake, and Rum and Raisin cheesecake. This summer he also added Mango Time Cheesecake, jackfruit and my personal favorite, yellow yam.
I am not going to hold you in suspense for much longer. The two most important things for me when it comes to cheesecake was taste and texture and both were excellent. The star ingredient (the Jamaican ones) was very strong and distinct in most of them (more on that later) so for example when you are eating a rum and raisin cheesecake, it tastes like rum and raisin one of the most popular flavors on the island. The cheesecake is not overly sweet either and has enough sugar to satisfy, not overwhelm.
I’ve tasted pretty much all of them except jackfruit and their new vegan one but my favorite is the yellow yam. Along with dumpling, coco and green bananas this root vegetable is a very popular starch in Jamaican dishes and is served with a protein or used to make soup. I love yellow yam, but it’s really hard to explain the taste of it. Maybe this is why the taste was not as distinct in this cheesecake like the other flavors were. I have no idea how Mr. Shields transformed yellow yam (trade secret so nuh badda ask) into an ingredient for cheesecake but he did, and it works! The fact that he included the toasted coconut (reminiscent of gizzada, another favorite Jamaican desert) and raisins sent this one over the top for me. I know the yam is in there because it’s definitely not plain cheesecake, and it is smooth, creamy, satisfying and over all, excellent!
Unfortunately, at this time you can’t order the yellow yam cheesecake online. You can, however, order any of the other ones that are listed above on their website Johnnyscake.com. In addition, the Jamaican styled cheesecakes caught the attention of Chef Wenford Patrick Simpson, B.B. King’s corporate executive chef. As of this week, the Jamaican Blue Mountain Coffee Cheesecake which is made with 100% sourced Jamaican coffee beans; and the Rum and Raisin, made with authentic Caribbean rum and organic raisins which are preserved and aged for six months, are now available at B.B. Kings Bar and Grill on 42nd Street in New York City.
Thank you Mr. Shields for showing us that there are other ways to integrate and sell brand Jamaica and the flavors of the island. We are so proud of your ingenuity and for your willingness to bring your ideas to light. Congrats also on getting on the menu at world famous B.B. Kings Blues Club & Grill! We look forward to sampling more of your creations and watching your growth.
DISCLOSURE: I received gratis/complimentary samples from Johnny Baldwin Cheesecakes which allowed me to share my experience with you. My experience might be slightly different from yours but my opinion is honest and was not influenced.