Nine times out of ten, when I have leftover bananas in my kitchen, they are going into banana bread. I never really get tired of eating banana bread, especially when there are some many delicious variations on it, but there are times when I simply want to make something besides a loaf cake. Bananas, fortunately, are a versatile fruit and you can get really creative with them. You may have spread cream cheese onto a slice of banana bread before, but have you considered baking a Banana Cheesecake? If not, start ripening some bananas now because this is a great way to enjoy them.
The cheesecake starts with plenty of cream cheese, as well as sugar, eggs and bananas. I recommend making the batter in the food processor or even a blender to ensure that it is as smooth as possible. This will also save you from having to mash the bananas up by hand; the machine will puree everything for you. The cheesecake is rich and creamy, with a great balance of tangy cream cheese and tropical banana. It’s simple, but addictive.
At first, I considered loading the cheesecake up with some of the same spices – cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger or allspice – that often appear in banana breads to give it a “banana bread” flavor. In the end, I decided to limit the spices to the shortbread crust of the cheesecake. Cinnamon makes the crisp base really flavorful, but the banana is still front and center in the cheesecake itself. The shortbread crust is prepared and baked before the batter, but the cheesecake batter is poured right on top of the hot crust and returned to the oven to finish baking.
The cheesecake should be brought to room temperature after baking and then chilled before serving. I recommend wiping down your knife with a damp paper towel (or other towel) between cuts for the neatest slices. It can be served just as-is or dressed up with additional toppings and sauces. While I like it very much on its own, my other favorite way to enjoy it is to top it with chocolate and/or caramel sauce and whipped cream, just like a banana split.
Banana Cheesecake with Cinnamon Shortbread Crust
1 cup all purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
1/3 cup butter, melted and cooled
16 oz cream cheese, room temperature
3 medium bananas (approx 1 – 1 1/4 cups mashed)
4 large eggs
3/4 cup sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp salt
Preheat oven to 350F. Take out a 9-inch springform pan.
In a medium bowl, make the crust. Whisk together all dry ingredients, then pour in the butter and stir with a fork to combine. Stir until the mixture resembles wet sand.
Pour crust mixture into springform pan and press into an even layer.
Bake for 15-17 minutes, until set and lightly browned around the edges.
While the crust is baking, combine cream cheese and bananas in a food processor or blender. Pulse until well-combined, then add in remaining ingredients and process until batter is very smooth, about 1 minute.
Pour batter on top of the hot crust and return to oven. Bake for 45-50 minutes, or until cheesecake is just set. The center should jiggle a bit without looking liquidy when the pan is nudged.
Allow cheesecake to cool to room temperature, then refrigerate until cold (at least 3 hours) before slicing and serving.