April 24, 2023 at 2:48 p.m.

Finding her calling in cheesecake

Skoog founds business formed around the dessert

By Tiffany [email protected] | Comments: 0 | Leave a comment

WAITE PARK, Minn. – The smell of fresh cheesecake, crushed graham cracker and raspberry wafts in the air at Christine’s Cheesecake in Waite Park.
Over 30 varieties of cheesecake are set out at Christine Skoog’s display case for customers to bring home and enjoy on a daily basis.
“I have always made cheesecake for friends, family and potlucks,” Skoog said. “It’s always been a passion of mine.”
When Skoog first started selling cheesecakes, she made them in a commercial kitchen and drove around in her minivan, stopping at various businesses to sell to the business or the people working there.
“I’m unique in this area because I only do cheesecake,” Skoog said. “When I first opened, I had people ask me if I think I can sustain a business with only having cheesecake. I said, ‘If my cheesecake is really good, I can.’”
Skoog makes her creations in 9-inch and 19- by 11-inch pans. The larger pans are used to portion out mini cheesecakes.
Skoog buys cream cheese in 30-pound blocks and uses 15 pounds to make two sheet-cake pans of cheesecake. The oven at Skoog’s current location can hold six sheet-cake pans at one time. On days when Skoog bakes, she makes 18 sheet cakes or 20 9-inch round cheesecakes.
Skoog uses 360 pounds of cream cheese and a couple pallets of sugar every two weeks to craft her creations.
Making cheesecake was always a passion of Skoog’s but did not turn into a business until 2012. At the time, she was raising four children while working as a server at a restaurant. She offered to make the cheesecake for the staff Christmas party, which led to making cheesecake for the restaurant itself.
“After a couple of months, they told me I really should start my own business,” Skoog said. “I said I didn’t know how to run a business, and they said, ‘You are a smart girl; you can figure it out.’”
The turning point for Skoog happened when she was waiting on one of the regular customers at the restaurant.
“I told her my dream as I did many other people,” Skoog said. “She just believed in me and wrote me a check to start my business. Dreams do come true.”
Skoog talked with her sister-in-law and came up with a name and color scheme. Skoog knew of a commercial kitchen available, and although it did not have a store front, it would work.
“Six weeks later, I was in full-fledged business,” Skoog said. “God is great all the time; every stepping stone creates a path that guides us.”
Skoog has continued to pay back the woman who helped her, and just this month, she was able to write the final check.
Skoog also likes paying it forward in her community. Later this spring, she will  participate in a fundraiser to raise money for the Tanner’s Team Foundation.
Looking ahead, Skoog has lots of ideas, such as taking her cheesecake to the Minnesota State Fair, but she wants see the last of her children graduate from college first and then hopes to expand to more locations.
“I would love to have many more of Christine’s Cheesecakes and for it to be all over the U.S., but that takes time,” Skoog said.
Turtle and white chocolate raspberry remain the best sellers at Christine’s Cheesecakes, but she has a list of over 200 types she can make. She uses the same recipe as her base that she used while she was growing up and baking with her mom and grandmother. Then, she uses various ingredients to make the flavor combinations. Skoog said at first it was a lot of trial and error, but now, it is much easier to create a new flavor.
“Now that I am familiar with flavors and different ingredients, I can get a pretty good idea what a flavor will need,” Skoog said.
Special events such as weddings and showers as well as going to local fairs and festivals on top of the usual holidays keep Christine’s Cheesecakes busy year-round.
Skoog is not afraid to try something new and takes requests if there is a flavor not on her list that a customer would like to have.
“I had a wedding one time that wanted black licorice cheesecake,” Skoog said. “I do not like black licorice, but they absolutely loved it and their whole family went crazy for it.”
Being a one-woman show, Skoog has learned how to run a business in the last 12 years. She has proven the skeptics wrong that it is possible to run a business selling only cheesecake.  
“When you have a dream and it comes to fruition, it is just magical,” Skoog said. “It’s powerful.”


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