What's For Dessert: No-Bake Mini Bananas Foster Cheesecake

Northwoods update: our lake is free of ice! After the ice first began to break up early last week, all it took was several days of warm weather and it seemed like the remaining ice disappeared right before our eyes on Monday. According to the Old Timers in the neighborhood, this was one of the latest dates for ice breakup on the lake in the last 30 years -- last year the ice was gone by the end of March! (Last spring was unusually warm in these parts, though they later got a large dumping of snow in April.)

All I can say is that it was a long time coming and I cannot wait for the lake to warm up so I can get in a few (dock to dock) laps. D has been working on getting our small boat tuned up for the season, and I need to get a fishing license -- and then we'll be ready to hit the water for some evening boating and fishing.

Meanwhile, back in the kitchen, I may have made one of the most awesome desserts of my life. (Wow, that's a grand statement!) Seriously, though, I think it was a stroke of genius (if I do say so myself) to meld together a recipe for no-bake mini banana cream cheesecakes that I spied on How Sweet It Is (via The Kitchn) with a recipe for bananas foster. Cheesecake is good. Bananas foster is good. But put them both together -- and you've got a dessert that is sublime.

Since bananas foster is quite rich, I subbed in neufchâtel cheese for cream cheese, which has a slightly lower fat content. These cheeses taste quite similar, so I don't think the overall flavor was affected at all, but if you only have cream cheese on hand, you can of course use that instead. (And, if you're curious, here's a quick explanation of the difference between the two cheeses.)

No-Bake Mini Bananas Foster Cheesecake (printer-friendly version)
makes four servings

For the bananas foster (adapted from this Alton Brown recipe):
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 cup dark brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
1 tablespoon brandy
3 bananas, sliced in half widthwise, then lengthwise (so you'll end up with 12 slices)
1/4 cup dark rum
1/2 teaspoon finely grated orange zest
8 ounces neufchâtel (or cream) cheese, softened

1. Melt the butter in a heavy skillet over low heat. Add the sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg and stir until the sugar dissolves. Add in the brandy and bring to a simmer. Add the sliced bananas, and cook for about one minute per side, spooning the sauce over the bananas as they cook. Remove the bananas from the skillet and place them in a medium-sized bowl.
2. Add the rum to the skillet. If the sauce is hot enough, it will start to flame. If not, use a long lighter to ignite the flame (be careful!). Continue cooking the sauce until the flame dies out, about 2-3 minutes. The sauce should have a syrupy consistency; if it is too thin, continue cooking for a few minutes longer.
3. Stir in the orange zest, and then carefully pour the sauce over the bananas. [It's totally cool if you want to stop at this point and just serve the bananas foster over vanilla ice cream. I may or may not have bogarted a couple bananas to give it a taste -- long story short, it was delish.]
4. Use a fork to mash the bananas into the sauce. Set aside and let cool for a few minutes.
5. Add the neufchatel (or cream) cheese to the bowl of an electric mixer and beat until smooth, scraping down the sides as necessary. Add in the sweetened condensed milk and beat to combine. Next, add in the cooled banana mixture and beat until the mixture is smooth.

For the cheesecakes:
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
2/3 cup graham cracker crumbs (about 2 full cracker sheets)
1 ripe banana, sliced thinly
bananas foster cheesecake filling [see above]
whipped cream for serving
graham cracker crumbs for topping

1. In a small bowl, stir together the melted butter and graham cracker crumbs.
2. Spoon and press the graham cracker mixture into the bottom of four containers (I used small jam jars; you could use short glasses, ramekins, or other container of your choice).
3. Next, add a layer of sliced bananas (about 3-4 slices in a circle) to each jar.
4. Carefully spoon the cheesecake filling evenly into each of the containers.
5. Refrigerate for at least 4-6 hours to let the cheesecakes set.
6. When ready to serve, top each cheesecake with whipped cream, graham cracker crumbs, and a banana slice.

(inspired by this How Sweet It Is recipe)


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