Banana Cream Cheesecake

Saturday, July 26, 2014

An interesting departure from the classic cheesecake, or rather, a digression. Glad to report, we now have a permanent fork on the road. And I'll be happy to walk this way now and then.

Bananas and cheese were a match made in deep fryer heaven. In the evenings, we'd have fried bananas at tea time, and this was usually accompanied with a most generous grating of cheddar cheese. You have to try it to believe it. I don't know if this is an Indonesian thing or Dutch thing or maybe just a family thing. But that's what I grew up with and so did my kids, in the company of their grandmother.

Since I'm not into deep frying and have long resisted the urge to get an appliance to do the same, just a bit cleaner at it, we save these fried banana afternoons on our trips back home.

But this recipe gave me a lightbulb moment. Why shouldn't we mix our bananas with our cream cheese in one of our favorite desserts? It could be another match, this time made in the oven.

2 cups crushed vanilla wafers
2 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp crushed walnuts (optional... it does a fabulous job here)
6 tbsp melted butter

680 grams cream cheese, at room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
3 large eggs, at room temperature
3 bananas, mashed
1/3 cup milk
3 tsp vanilla extract

To decorate:
Whipping cream
Banana slices

1. Spray a 9" springform pan with canola oil and line bottom and sides with parchment (that's where those cute pleats on the sides are from)
2. Just so we don't want spillages on the oven floor, place this pan in a rimmed baking sheet lined with parchment as well.

3. Preheat the oven to 350F.
4. Make the crust by whirring everything in the processor, then pressing lightly into the bottom of the pan (tip: even it out with a cup measure).
5. Bake the crust for 5-8 minutes then cool completely.

6. Using a stand mixer, beat the cream cheese and sugar for about 5 minutes until smooth and fluffy.
7. Add the eggs, one at a time, making sure the batter is homogenous.
8. Add the milk, vanilla and bananas, mixing on low, just until everything is just combined.

9. Pour into the prepared springform pan (which should be on top of that said baking sheet), and bake for 60 minutes. The cheesecake is ready when the sides have pulled away and the top has turned golden brown. It should still be a bit jiggly in the center.

10. Remove from the oven and place an oversized mixing bowl to cover the top, propping it on the sides to let steam escape, but retain enough heat to continue cooking the middle.
11. As the cheesecake cools, the jiggly part should set by then.
12. Remove the sides of the springform pan, keeping the bottom,  then cool completely on a wire rack.

13. When cool, reattach the sides if you can, as it is easier to put a plastic wrap around it this way.
14. Refrigerate for 3-4 hours, or overnight, if you can resist.

15. Whip the cream into soft peaks, place in a piping bag, and go all fancy. Don't forget those bananas.
Serve immediately, lest those bananas lose their lustre.

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