If you love banana pudding, how about a caramelized banana pudding/custard in a cheesecake, vanilla wafers and all? Oh, and the crust? JUST WOW if you love cashew nuts and pralines!
That said..I created this caramel banana custard pudding cheesecake recipe (I was actually shocked that no one had thought of it before!) to satisfy your banana pudding, caramel, and cheesecake cravings all at once, and I think a caramel twist on the bananas in banana pudding is one of the best combos ever! The method that transforms this cheesecake into a ‘custard’ cheesecake is baking it in a water bath, like you would a custard, which gives it a creamy, custardy ‘pudding’ like mouth feel. No addition of boxed banana pudding in this baby!
BUT, pudding and custard are two totally different beasts (albeit, good beasts). Custard is usually a sweet or savory milk and egg (think creme anglaise) mixture poured into a dish or ramekins, then baked in a water bath to give it a creamy, but firm, jiggly texture. Pudding is prepared stove top, stirred, with a thickener like flour or cornstarch, to give it a a more yielding ‘creaminess’. Custard holds it’s shape after baking, whereas pudding swirls and ‘plops’ anywhere you want it to. SO, Custard is creamy but sturdy; pudding is a bit of a free spirit. You can slice into custard and leave a temporarily indelible mark. You can’t do that with pudding.
The more you know…(shooting star).
SO, this cheesecake is more like a custard per the way it has been baked, and the slight jiggle upon cooling. but has all the characteristics of a banana pudding via the velvet silky mouth-feel, the ‘nilla wafers, and chunks of banana. So, in retrospect, this cheesecake can be called both, right?
All that being said, this cheesecake is SO FREAKIN’ good, and I’m not even a huge banana fan outside of banana pudding and the occasional extraordinarily moist and flavorful banana bread or cake…and now THIS, which I made last night, after a 24-hour banana steeping, and I’m pretty sure my knees buckled!! OMG, MUST TRY!!
SO, do you love banana pudding, the kind with the vanilla wafers (is there any other kind?)? Do you love caramel? If so, you’ll love this twist on banana pudding and vanilla wafers in a cheesecake. It’s gooey, it’s rich, it’s sinful, it’s worth the calories. Portion control are my key words for this cheesecake. In this case, TWO big slices equals one portion, k? Bananas are good for you! Potassium!
HEY, did you know you can split a banana into three equal slices just by sticking a finger into the tip on either side, and pushing it in gently? An impeccably clean finger, mind you!
That said, a note. Not all of the caramel bananas in this banana pudding cheesecake will look beautifully caramelized inside of the cheesecake once baked. The cheesecake batter dilutes a lot of that golden beauty (but not the flavor!), some of the caramel blending into the cheesecake. I had to cut through the whole banana pudding cheesecake to find one slice where some of the bananas remained that beautiful caramel color after baking, for photographic purposes, of course. If you look closely at my slice photos, you’ll see the washed out color of some of the caramelized bananas. But, again, no effect on flavor or texture, and like I always say on this blog, in the end, that’s all that matters.
However, to avoid the above, you can puree all of the caramelized bananas, and mix that puree into the cheesecake batter (or marble it in, or mix it with some of the cheesecake batter and marble it in!) if you desire. IN fact, I think it makes it even creamier! Or you can do half an half – puree half the caramel bananas and mix it, then fold in the remaining half of banana chunks.
Caramel Banana Custard Pudding Cheesecake with Salted Cashew Praline – Vanilla Wafer Crust
Sorry, I had to give it its own little marquee moment because it’s so damn delicious!!
- 1½ cups vanilla wafer crumbs
- 1 stick (4 oz) butter, melted and browned
- 2 tablespoons light brown sugar
- 1 cup cashew praline, chopped finely (recipe follows)
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1 tablespoon heavy cream
- ½ cup salted cashew nuts. Toast them for added flavor, if desired
- 3 packages of cream cheese, 8 oz each (total of 24 oz) room temperature
- 1 cup sugar
- 3 large eggs
- ½ cup heavy cream
- ½ cup sour cream
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract (or the innards of 1 plump vanilla bean)
- 1 tablespoon banana liqueur, optional - I didn't use any, just giving you an option to enhance the banana flavor
- Caramelized bananas (recipe below)
- ½ cup sugar
- 1 tablespoon corn syrup
- 2 to 3 bananas, cut into chunks
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- In skillet or heavy-bottomed saucepan, melt the sugar until light golden brown. Stir in the tablespoon of butter and tablespoon of cream, then stir in the salted cashew nuts and mix gently until the all the nuts are coated with the caramel. Pour onto a silpat lined or buttered baking sheet, and let harden.
- Once hardened, break it up and measure one cup of the broken pieces. Place the one cup of broken pieces in a food processor and pulse until chopped finely, or chop finely with a knife. Set this amount aside for the crust. Eat any leftovers, or add it to your favorite cookie dough before baking!
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Combine vanilla wafer crumbs, 1 cup of cashew praline, and light brown sugar in a food processor with a few light pulses. Drizzle in melted brown butter and vanilla extract as you're pulsing, until crust holds together slightly when squeezed. Press the crust on the bottom and up the sides of a lightly buttered 9-inch springform pan, using the bottom and side of a small glass to really pack it in. Place in preheated oven and bake for 5 - 7 minutes. Remove and let cool. Do not turn oven off, keep it at 350F for baking the cheesecake.
- Heat a large heavy saute pan over medium heat, until hot, but not smoking. Sprinkle sugar around the pan and drizzle with corn syrup. Cook, without stirring, just gently shaking the pan if some areas are turning color quicker than other areas, until whole mixture turns a golden amber color, about 6-8 minutes.
- Stir in butter until smooth (caramel will sizzle), then add chopped bananas and cook until they're caramelized but still slightly firm, about 4 -5 minutes. Pour into a bowl and cover with plastic wrap so the caramel doesn't dry out, until cool and ready to fold into cheesecake batter.
- Take ½ cup (heaping ½ cup) of the caramelized bananas and puree them in a food processor, or just mash them until smooth. Set aside.
- Combine the cream cheese and sugar in the bowl of a stand-mixer (or in a large bowl if using a hand-mixer) and cream together until smooth. Add eggs, one at a time, fully incorporating each before adding the next. Make sure to scrape down the bowl in between each egg. Mix in the pureed caramel bananas, sour cream, heavy cream, vanilla, lemon juice, and liqueur (if using) and blend until smooth and creamy. Gently fold in the remaining caramelized bananas chunks.
- Wrap outside of springform pan, from the bottom up, in heavy duty tin foil or double wrap in regular tin foil (this prevents water from seeping into the pan). Pour batter into prepared crust and tap the pan on the counter a few times to bring all air bubbles to the surface. Place pan into a larger pan and pour boiling water into the larger pan until halfway up the side of the cheesecake pan.
- Bake 70 minutes, until it is almost done - but jiggly in the center. Turn off the oven and let the cheesecake finish baking in the cooling oven for one hour. This prevents cracks in the cheesecake. After one hour is up, remove the cheesecake from oven and lift carefully out of water bath. Let it finish cooling on the counter, and then cover and put in the fridge to chill for several hours to overnight. Once fully chilled, it is ready to serve.
- Serve with your favorite caramel sauce, toffee bits, whipped cream or torched meringue, and/or bruleed banana slices*..or just enjoy as is :).
- * To make bruleed banana slices..cut a banana into slices, any way you want. Sprinkle the cut sides generously, with granulated sugar, and caramelize with a kitchen torch, or place on a lined sheet pan under the broiler, keeping a close eye on them so they don't burn. Pipe some whipped cream n the edges of the cheesecake and stick a bruleed banana in each mound of whipped cream, OR, cover the top of the cheesecake with sweetened, beaten meringue (as mentioned above) and torch it, for a grand presentation!
I wanted to make this caramel banana pudding cheesecake beautiful, but I couldn’t gussy it up due to rain and muggy weather melting ev-er-y-thing!
On another note, I was nominated for a Food Stories Award by Maureen of The Orgasmic Chef. To say I’m surprised is an understatement. I’ve just been journaling a memory from a happy, innocent time to soothe my aching grown-up soul during a difficult period the past few months. I guess you could call it my own personal therapy. Glad some have enjoyed it. However, before my Bad Boy First Love memoir, there are loads of mile long food stories, so I hope those are taken into consideration. Who could forget the squirrels that ate my joconde paste?
As part of this nomination, they’d like a random fact about me. Here goes …..
As much as I wax poetic about baking and cooking from scratch, I eat my fair share of processed food. I’m especially a slave to the occasional fluffernutter sandwich, and it must be marshmallow cream from a jar. Also, sometimes I scrape the cream from Oreos with my teeth and ditch the cookies. Lovely, huh? I’m a vanilla gal to the bone. Oh, and don’t even get me started on rice krispy treats!
They’d also like me to nominate 5 other food bloggers for this award. This was so tough to narrow down because there are SO many great food story writers out there, but I finally managed to choose 5. Here they are;
Lifes a Feast – Her memories intertwine with the food effortlessly. Not only can Jamie tell a story , but she does it with flair and amazing imagery. A fabulous, gifted writer in every way.
Bibberche – Lana’s stories have made me laugh and cry, and I feel her every emotion with every word written. A beautiful writer and storyteller.
Creative Culinary – I love reading Barb’s posts because she flows Her writing is breezy and she never holds back when it comes to controversial issues. She tells it like it is; no sugar-coating.
A Few Rotten Vegetables and Moldy Cheese – A friend linked me to her site, and I read the whole damn blog in one sitting. I can identify with most everything she talks about in a been there/done that sort of way. She doesn’t know me, so I guess I’m her stalker; huge crush. Oh, she is NOT a food blogger, just a chef who writes, and she makes that very clear.
La Mia Cucina – Lis, the founder of Daring Bakers, doesn’t blog anymore, but I wish she would. Go read her blog now! Not only is it great writing/story telling, but she is ‘effin HILARIOUS! THIS post still brings elicits wheezing, tearing laughter.
To accept your nominations, click HERE to read about it.
Oh, one more thing. My 4-year Blogiversary is coming up on the 28th. I’ll be celebrating it with a HUGE giveaway. Be sure to check back since you won’t want to miss this one – seriously.