Before I get into the good stuff [by good stuff I mean creamy, banana-y, luscious, slice of heaven with the ever so subtle hint of booze] there are a few things that should be discussed.
One: I am contemplating checking myself into rehab for my severe (and freaking expensive) obsession with hazelnuts (I blame my boss for ordering boat loads of luxurious Gianduja).
Two: I whacked nearly 9 inches off [thanks Heather at Studio E] of my trademark stupidly long hair (I’ve had near butt length hair since a horrid hair cut in the 6th grade).
Three: I am now platinum blonde (like…really freaking platinum blonde).
Four: I added another tattoo to the collection (the worst part of getting your knee cap tattooed? Standing up to check it out in the mirror).
Five: I am feeling so great with Spring tiptoeing into Missouri (seriously, I promise I’m not going through some quarter life crisis.
NOW, down to business.
“Chappy, we're eagerly awaiting your arrival. Be thinking of what baked good you would like to eat, because well, I'll make it. See you soon!”
he quickly responded,
“Just nothing too chocolatey:)”
I read this, rolled my eyes, and thought “too chocolately?” Pft. That’s like saying “too free” or “too many puppies”. Anyway, he later informed me that he loves bananas. I got online, opened up tastespotting and saw a banana cheesecake. Done and done, that’s what I was making.
Now I’m sure Vanilla Sugar’s recipe is epic, what is NOT epic about the idea of banana cheesecake with caramel rum? However, I cannot cook or bake without getting ingredient happy. I start dumping stuff in all willy nilly (willie nillie? meh whatevs) and it gets a little out of hand.
I knew I wanted to add some extra crunch to the graham crust so I decided to add ground hazelnuts. While at the store to get hazelnuts, I saw hazelnut flavored agave nectar so of course that got thrown in too.
**I'm also aware there are like 20 different components to this, but really it's simple. It's a normal cheesecake with extraordinary flavor. When I followed Vanilla Sugar's recipe for the rum sauce it was ultra thick...so I put it in a squirt bottle and made a plaid pattern on top. Then I topped that with bananas that were cooked in brown sugar, butter, and rum. That's it. I promise it's not difficult, I'm just long winded :)
Lets get baking! What you'll need:
-9 inch spring form pan. [May I suggest doing yourself a favor and cutting a circle of parchment to fit in the bottom? It will change your life.]
-foil [to wrap around the pan so that your cheesecake doesn't go for a swim in your water bath. This crust is entirely too delicious to get soggy.]
-2 cups graham cracker crumbs
-3/4 cup ground hazelnuts (NOT super fine, but more than chopped...throw some sugar in when you process these, so the oils don't get all loosey goosey)
-3 Tablespoons dark brown sugar
-1 Tablespoon cinnamon
-1 splash of Frangelico (for good measure)
-1 squirt [thats a very technical term, obviously] of Hazelnut Agave Nectar (this is an additional natural sweetener and entirely optional, seeing that I literally just bought it because it was hazelnut)
-1 stick unsalted butter, melted (I put a pinch of salt in the crust)
-Preheat your oven to 375, we're going to pre-bake this crust so that it's extra crunchy.
1.) Take your melted butter and place it in a medium sized bowl.
2.) Add everything else.
3.) Combine, until each and everyone of those little crumbs are wet.
4.) Dump crumbs in the bottom of your pan. [I hope you can keep up, this is super technical ;) ]
5.) With a small glass level the bottom of the pan, and make sure it goes up at least half way up the sides. The glass really helps you out on this.
6.)Place in oven for 7 minutes-ish, remove, set aside to let cool.
7.)Turn oven down to 250 F [cause we're slow baking this baby].
-1 1/2 lb. (24 oz) cream cheese softened
-¾ cup white sugar
-guts of 1 vanilla bean
-¾ cup sour cream
-2 tsp Frangelico [or rum or both]
-4 mashed ripened banana
-1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice for the bananas
1.) Beat your cream cheese, vanilla bean insides, and sugar together with the paddle attachment of your stand mixer at rapidly high speeds (as high as your mixer goes without spitting all over your kitchen) for at least 7 minutes. Stop mixer scrape down the sides and beat some more. (this is the key part of not having lumpy cheesecake)
2.)Meanwhile, peel your ripened bananas and put them in a medium bowl. Squeeze some lemon juice on them, and smash the heck out of them with a fork [or smashing tool of your choice].
3.) Next, add your sour cream, vanilla, and booze to cream cheese mixture and continue to beat on high speeds.
4.)Lower the mixer speed and add eggs one at a time.
5.)Finally, on your mixers lowest speed, add your bananas.
6.) Continue to mix until well combined.
7.) Pour cheesecake batter into pre-baked crust. Make sure you have already wrapped your spring form pan in foil, and place filled spring form on baking sheet. Fill baking sheet with water to create water bath (you aren't giving swimming lessons here, don't add TOO much).
8.) Pop in 250 F oven for probably close to 2 hours. Check periodically. Bake until cheesecake is set. (Poke the pan with your finger and if it barely jiggles you're ready)
9.) Allow to cool completely and refrigerate for a few hours before serving.
*this cheesecake is firm enough to hold form on a plate, in part of it's delicious sturdy crust, but because there is delicious banana mush IN the cheesecake it sets a little softer than most cheesecakes, don't be afraid... just be afraid of eating the entire thing in one sitting.
caramel rum sauce:
*this entire process seemed weird to me, but hey I at least TRY to follow directions :)
-1 1/2 cups heavy cream
-1/4 cup dark rum
-splash of Frangelico, again because I'm obnoxious
-1/4 cup granulated sugar
-2 Tablespoons cornstarch
1.) In a medium non-stick saucepan, combine all but 2 Tablespoons of the cream with the rum and sugar.
2.) Bring to a simmer over medium heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar.
3.) Remove from the heat.
4.) In a small bowl, dissolve the cornstarch in the remaining 2 Tablespoons of cream.
5.) Add to the warm rum mixture and return to medium heat. Simmer, stirring, until the mixture thickens, 4 to 5 minutes.
6.) Remove from the heat and after it cools put in a squeeze bottle and store in fridge until needed.
For the amazing sweet and boozy nanners on top:
1/2 stick of butter
1/2 cup of brown sugar (plus some extra for sprinkling)
2 nice, ready to eat bananas, sliced up into coins
1/4 c dark rum
1.) In a medium sized skilled melt butter and brown sugar together.
2.) Once it starts bubbling add your nanners.
3.) Allow to cook for about 2 minutes.
4.) Add rum.
5.) Carefully (with a long fireplace lighter) light the pan and stand back (keep those eyebrows). Allow alcohol to cook off (it will burn itself out).
To make it all come together.
-With a squeeze bottle squeeze rum caramel sauce into design of your choice [I chose plaid because I grew up in the 90s, DUH].
-Sprinkle with brown sugar and cinnamon [what shouldn't you sprinkle with brown sugar and cinnamon?]
-Slice the cheesecake [or get a spoon and put on a good movie] and then top each serving with a spoon [or shovel] of the flambéed bananas.
Bake and enjoy!