35 Weeks of “Pinteresting” Baking: Week 4 – Mini Bananas Foster Cheesecakes

O.k., I may have bitten off more than I can chew with this challenge.  Between my work schedule, my kids, and still needing to cook regular meals, throwing in a weekly baking session has proved to be…well a bit daunting.  Nevertheless I shall move forward, power through, and fight the good fight.

I had been eyeballing this particular treat for quite some time now.  It was a newer “pin” and it is at the top of my board.  Aside from the recipe’s image staring right at me every time I open my board, cheesecake just so happens to be my favorite dessert.  The banana part wasn’t as appealing, but seeing as how I end up having a constant need to Google “what to do with your over ripe bananas”, it fit the bill.

Cheesecake recipes are usually pretty standard. Crush Graham crackers and mix with melted butter to create your crust.  A food processor is absolutely best for this especially if you add nuts.  It should look like beautiful, delicious, sweet smelling sand when you are finished.

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Next you usually mix cream cheese and sugar (and you’ll usually find cheesecake recipes use a smaller amount of sugar than typical desserts) and then add eggs.  It’s pretty simple and basic, but for the first time I used brown sugar as the recipe requires and man oh man did it ever make a beautiful color.  I could have just used it  as a spread right then and there.  The next unique aspect of this recipe was adding mashed bananas at the end.

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For the entire recipe, I used generic store bought products.  I actually had some cream cheese in the fridge awaiting their transformation.  Since I do consider myself a cheesecake veteran, I did decide to do a tiny bit of freestyling.  Since I am a crustinista (oh yes, yes I did go there), I wanted to add a little more flavor to the Graham cracker crust by adding about a tablespoon of brown sugar and 1/2 tsp of vanilla.

It is so critical when baking cheesecake, that you have either a springform pan or this cute mini cheesecake pan (like the one seen below).  I used to make them in muffin pans and it added so much work, but it is manageable if you do not have the actual pan.  If you plan to make mini cheesecakes often, it is well worth the investment.

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One little poke of the finger and you have a super cutesy dessert.  It also shapes better than out of the muffin tin.

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To prepare the pan for it’s special task of creating this rich dessert, is the spray each well with cooking spray.  You then, scoop the sand-like crust into each well.  I must say, I had to add more than the 2 T of butter which the recipe required.  The crust should start sticking together when compressed otherwise you would not have a formed crust, but rather a Graham cracker crumble sloughing off when you take out your cheesecake.  To add the filling, I like to use a container with a spout for pouring.  This time around I chose a measure cup, worked like a charm.  I actually ended up making 16 mini cheesecakes instead of the 12 the recipe noted.

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Some of my cakes cooked a little bit long or my oven was too hot. Also, some of the cakes sunk in due to uneven baking.  The only way I have ever learned to have cheesecake cook evenly is to submerge part of the baking container in water while in the oven.  Yesterday was not the day for that so I just placed the pans directly on the oven rack.

For the sauce, well that begin very interestingly.  The butter melting went perfectly according to plan.  I mean, it’s melting butter in a pan.  I then added the brown sugar and started to wonder after a minute why it did not look smooth like the recipe had indicated.  At this point I am cursing silently in my head as my kids were nearby.

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It looked anything but smooth.  I started looking grainy and when I mixed it, well it was just strange so I decided adding the liquid now might help.

I did not have rum and I was going to give some to my kids so I added 1 T of vanilla instead.  Steam, hiss, splat….I had a boiling science experiment on my hands.

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At this point, there was no turning back, I was not about to start over so I just threw in the sliced bananas.  It didn’t seem very clear in the recipe but for this part you can use a regular banana as it will be cooked to perfection.

After a few whirls, my sauce finally looked thin and glassy like the picture from the original recipe blog.  The take home here is that it takes a while to get to that thin, smooth, glossy texture.  I always feel like recipes frequently fail to mention how long some foods take to transition to its new elevated state.

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Like caramelizing onions!  OMG it takes like hours or something crazy and recipe wording, to me, seems to indicate it happens just like that.  Anyway, by the end of what seemed to be an episode from Bill Nye the Science Guy, my “Foster” turned out beautiful…and so did the cheesecakes.

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Ooh, they looked so cute!  My favorite part was the light mocha-like coloring of the cheesecake.  I have only made white cheesecake in the past so that was a treat.  It was quite good and got rave reviews from my neighbor and her family, but as I mentioned before, I am not the biggest banana dessert fan.  I will say, if you are a fan of banana flavored desserts, this will knock your socks off!  You will want to herald in the streets about this wonderful treat you discovered.  It is rich and creamy and the brown sugary banana on top is icing on the….cheesecake.

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