Room for Dessert

Finding magic in unexpected places is what makes the Cincinnati dining scene so exciting, like finding a traditionally Greek dessert in a local Mexican restaurant.

click to enlarge Lemon Berry Cheesecake
Lemon Berry Cheesecake

Finding magic in unexpected places is what makes the Cincinnati dining scene so exciting, like finding a traditionally Greek dessert in a local Mexican restaurant. 

Django Western Taco in Northside is known for authentic and creative Tex-Mex cuisine, but the cheesecakes featured on their dessert menu are worth praising as well. 

Frannie Rosenkrantz, a 21-year-old University of Cincinnati zoology student, has worked nearly every position at Django in her two-plus years of employment. However, her dessert-making experience actually came from a summer job she had working alongside a personal chef in town. It was there she set out to make a perfect key lime pie, a recipe that Andrew Mersmann, the general manager of Django, fell in love with.

After the key lime pie, it was Rosenkrantz herself who wanted to take a stab at cheesecake. 

She was given the opportunity two years ago when tasked with coming up with a dessert for the restaurant around the Fourth of July. Using the holiday as a theme, she challenged herself to create something that reflected red, white and blue. Additionally, she noticed large quantities of berries leftover from one of Django’s drink specials. With all of that in mind, her most popular cheesecake, the lemon berry cheesecake, was born.

“That first cake was a disaster,” Rosenkrantz says. “The flavors were there, but the technique itself was not.”

She persevered and kept on making the cakes. As her cheesecake crafting evolved, so did Django’s menu, and Rosenkrantz became involved in fine-tuning the restaurant’s dessert options and ideas. 

Since then, she has been responsible for coming up with a flavorful cheesecake to be featured on the menu. Her flavors usually reflect the season, and each cake tends to remain on the menu for about two weeks.

Never knowing what the featured cheesecake flavors are is part of the fun, both for Rosenkrantz and dessert enthusiasts.  

“Usually the cooking manager will ask what flavors I’m thinking, and I’ll respond with an, ‘Ummm…’ ” she says, laughing. But that process clearly works for her and Django. 

“One of my more popular cakes was the espresso cheesecake with a hazelnut crust,” she says. “That idea simply came to me while I was enjoying my coffee one morning.”

So while it is natural to crave a specific food genre, like, say, Mexican, with a full spread of guacamole, pork belly, shrimp tacos and chile rellenos, consider going out for tacos with the awareness that room must be made for cheesecake. 

Django Western Taco has many dishes that put it on the map, but Rosenkrantz’s cheesecakes are definitely one of its more notable accomplishments.

If you’re interested in trying your own hand at the cake that made Rosenkrantz a staple dessert contributor, follow her lemon berry cheesecake recipe.

Lemon Berry Cheesecake
Recipe provided by Frannie Rosenkrantz
  • 24 oz. room temperature cream cheese 
  • 1 ½ cups sugar
  • 8 oz. sour cream
  • 1 tbsp. vanilla
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 3 eggs
  • 4 tbsp. flour
  • 3 lemons
  • 1 pint of berries
Beat cream cheese in mixer until smooth, then beat in sugar. Continue beating until the mixture is light, smooth and fluffy. Add the sour cream, vanilla, salt and flour, and mix thoroughly. Beat in eggs, then zest all three lemons into mix, and finally juice them.

Lastly, fold in berries and pour the mixture into a 10-inch spring form pan. Cook for two hours in a water bath in a 350-degree oven. Finish baking for 30 minutes at 280 degrees.

DJANGO WESTERN TACO is located at 4046 Hamilton Ave., Northside. More info:

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