Nidaa Moghrabi is a cheesecake baker in Fremont, California. Her small business, Nido’s Cheesecake, specializes in making 100% halal cheesecakes with farm fresh eggs and no artificial colours or preservatives.
Other than offering popular flavours like strawberry, mango and pumpkin spice, Nidaa’s company is unique in that she also bakes cheesecakes with a Middle Eastern twist. For example, at Nido’s Cheesecake, you can find things like Baklava cheesecake, which is a cross between a cheesecake and the Ottoman dessert loved throughout Arab nations; Qamardeen cheesecake which is inspired by an apricot drink enjoyed in Ramadan called Qamardeen; and Knafeh cheesecake which is Nidaa’s take on a popular Middle Eastern dessert called Knafeh featuring shredded phyllo dough and a rosewater sugar syrup.
We chat with Nidaa to find out how she came up with such unique flavours of cheesecake and what it’s like managing a small business as a mom!
Hello Holy Days: “What inspired you to start making cheesecake inspired by the flavours of the Middle East? Are these common flavours for cheesecake in the Middle East or did these fusion flavours come about because of your Arab-American identity?”
Nido’s Cheesecake: “Cheesecake has been always my favorite dessert! Growing up in Jordan, I loved the no-bake cheesecake my mom used to make but when I moved to the States and tried the baked version, I fell even more in love with cheesecake!
Believe it or not, the first cheesecake I ever baked was a Baklava Cheesecake – that was in 2012. I found the recipe on Little Life of Mine’s blog and since I love to challenge myself, I tried it out. It took me so much time to make it and it was stressful but totally worth it. With time, I changed the crust and the quantity of some ingredients.
That’s how I do it with new flavors now, I keep looking up recipes online and combine two and sometimes three recipes altogether. With time, I realized that I don’t like to copy the same exact cheesecake recipe. I like to have my own touches on my cheesecakes.
As far as I remember, Knafeh cheesecake was only sold in Dubai before I started selling mine here in the States. Now, you can buy it in Jordan and in other countries as well.”
Hello Holy Days: “What’s your most popular cheesecake flavour? What do you recommend for first time customers?”
Nido’s Cheesecake: “The most popular flavor is Walnut Baklava Cheesecake and it’s what I recommend new customers to try first. It’s basically a plain cheesecake topped with baklava in a very artistic way. It’s easy to find and try other flavors around in the States but the Baklava one is so unique and it gives a good first impression of my work.
I know for sure that if I ever announce about selling cheesecakes while I’m visiting family in Jordan, the most requested cheesecakes will be the Baklava and the Knafeh ones, that’s what my followers show interest in on my Instagram and Facebook pages.
I only recommend it to people who ask for my opinion. Sometimes, all what my customers care about is the fact that my cheesecakes are 100% Halal (alcohol-free vanilla extract and no gelatin), so they just want to enjoy their favorite flavor.
Hello Holy Days: “Eid al Adha is coming up. Which of your cheesecake flavours evoke the greatest memory of Eid for you?”
Nido’s Cheesecake: “Knafeh is the most popular dessert in Jordan. It’s served in almost all occasions, happy and sad. But that doesn’t mean I get more orders of it during Eid. The American mentality here is more dominant, where spiced pumpkin cheesecake is highly ordered during the fall (Eid al Adha has been occurring in the fall these years.)
As for the main dessert served at only Eid, it is Ma’amoul. They’re like semolina cookies, stuffed with either dates or nuts. It’s kind of hard to use it as a twist with my cheesecakes though. But you never know…like I said, I love challenging myself!”
Hello Holy Days: “On your social media, you often show us hilarious glimpses of your kids trying to eat your customers’ orders. What’s the most challenging thing about running a small business owner as a mom?”
Nido’s Cheesecake: “It’s quite challenging on so many levels. I’m so bad at multitasking. My girls now understand that if I’m working on an order, I cannot focus on what they’ve got to chat with me about. It’s impossible! They are not allowed in the kitchen while I’m working, their monkeying makes me nervous.
They jump to the door when customers come to pick up their orders and it’s embarrassing when they tell the customers how lucky they are for getting a cheesecake! I try to satisfy all their cravings and it’s harder than you think, because each one – including my husband – prefers different flavors and a whole cheesecake is too much for us.
I used to push myself to the limits by accepting to bake 4 cheesecakes a day but I learned to say no to more than two. I learned it the hard way though. My stress level hit its peak at some point, I had to get an MRI done for my migraines. Now I take it easy and find more time to spend with my husband and girls.”
Hello Holy Days: “When are you going to start shipping internationally? I’m dying to try one!”
Nido’s Cheesecake: “Shipping overnight via FedEx is so expensive. I have my menu/prices listed on my Facebook page: Nido’s Cheesecake.
The total cost of a cheesecake shipped is $99. I use coolant packs inside the sealed styrofoam boxes to ship my frozen cheesecakes. I had to test it twice before announcing it. Shipping to Canada takes longer than 24 hours and is more expensive. So it’s kind of risky. At some point, when I’m confident enough that I can keep my cheesecake cool for that long, I’ll have to test it 😉
As for local deliveries, I don’t do it as often as before. People prefer to come and pick it up themselves, I guess. The cost depends on location. I preferably deliver at night time, while my girls are in dreamland!”
Earlier this year, Nidaa was also featured in a HoneyMaid graham cracker commercial which aimed to address Islamaphobia. You can watch the social media commercial below and keep up to date with Nida by following her on Facebook or Instagram. (Warning: her pictures may cause drooling!)