I tend to get slick looks and smirks whenever I tell someone that I’m an Anglophile. People just don’t see too many Black-Puerto Rican women who are willing to admit they pretend to be British ladies with castles in Downton Abbey, I guess.
As a homeschooling mom, I have the privilege of being able to tailor my lesson plans around all things British whenever we reach that point in our school year—like when we hit the Tudor dynasty. Although not as ancient as King Henry VIII (nor as scandalous), Banoffee Pie was a great way to introduce English desserts to my kiddos.
WHAT IS BANOFFEE PIE?
The classic banoffee (bananas, toffee, and cream) dessert has a shortbread type crust filled with banana and toffee sauce. A generous dollop of cream is spread atop it all, and it’s served like a pie.
However, being the rogue that I am, I’ve transformed it into a decadent cheesecake. I’m quite sure the infamous Henry would approve of my breaking with tradition: This version has a shortbread crust, which is filled with a banana cheesecake! Toffee sauce is ladled over the chilled cheesecake, and rosettes of whipped cream add a bit of flourish.
The toffee sauce I’m using is made from scratch, but if you’re pressed for time, you can use a pre-made butterscotch sauce, which is the closest thing to homemade toffee. Caramel sauce, or goat’s milk cajeta, would be great substitutes as well. Using homemade toffee sauce, though, will pay dividends in the final flavor.
HOW TO MAKE THE BEST CHEESECAKE
As a native New Yorker, I pride myself on my ability to make an excellent cheesecake. The key to baking a perfect cheesecake is definitely patience.
- Bake the cake in a water bath (or bain marie) to keep the cheesecake filling at a constant, even temperature, which lessens the chance that your cheesecake will crack.
- Wrap your springform pan in layers of foil to eliminate any chance of water seeping into your cheesecake, and thus, ruining it. (Pay close attention when wrapping the foil around the spring locking handle. It’s notorious for puncturing the foil.)
- Allow your cheesecake to cool slowly inside the oven so the top does not crack. Abrupt changes in temperature can cause faults in the surface of your cheesecake.
MORE TIPS FOR GREAT CHEESECAKE
- Make the cheesecake at least 12 hours in advance, but 24 hours ahead is even better. A great cheesecake should be ice cold and firm enough to hold its shape when cut.
- Be sure to keep the cheesecake refrigerated—there are a lot of perishable components, after all. I’ve never had this cheesecake go uneaten for more than 48 hours, but the leftovers will keep for four days max in the refrigerator.
- Garnish your cheesecake just before serving to get that posh Brit look. My favorite way to decorate this particular cheesecake is with unsweetened dried banana chips that I find in the organic food section of my grocery store.
MORE DECADENT CHEESECAKES TO TRY!
Banoffee Cheesecake Recipe
For the toffee sauce:
- 3/4 cup heavy cream
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, sliced
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 cup (197 g) packed light brown sugar
- 3 tablespoons dark corn syrup
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
For the banoffee cheesecake:
- 2 (5-ounce) packages Walker’s shortbread cookies
- 1 cup (200 g) granulated sugar, divided
- 3 tablespoons melted unsalted butter
- 4 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, at room temperature
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 4 large eggs
- 3 ripe bananas, peeled and mashed
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon banana extract
- 1/3 cup cornstarch
- Toffee sauce
- Whipped cream
- Dried banana chips
1 Make the toffee sauce: Warm the heavy cream in the microwave for one minute, or on the stovetop over medium heat. The cream should steam, but not boil. Set this aside.
In a 4-quart saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the salt, brown sugar, and corn syrup. Whisking frequently, heat until the sugar has dissolved and the syrup bubbles gently. This should take anywhere from 3 to 5 minutes.
Turn the stove off and whisk in the warmed cream—be careful, as the sugar will bubble and steam once the cream is poured in. Add the vanilla extract to the sauce and set the pan back over medium heat.
Cook for another 5 minutes, or until the syrup is thick. Transfer the sauce to a glass jar and store in the refrigerator until ready to use, up to one week in advance.
2 Prep the oven and the pan: Preheat your oven to 350°F. Wrap a 10-inch springform pan in heavy duty aluminum foil and set aside; be very careful not to tear or puncture the foil.
3 Make the shortbread crust: Use a food processor to pulse the shortbread cookies into fine crumbs. Add 1/4 cup of granulated sugar and the melted butter to the food processor bowl and pulse until the crumbs hold together.
Squeeze a handful of crumbs in the palm of your hand. If the mixture doesn’t hold together, add another tablespoon of melted butter, and re-mix.
4 Pre-bake the crust: Press the shortbread mixture onto the bottom and an inch or so up the sides of the springform pan. Bake the crust for 10 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven and allow it to cool while you prepare the cheesecake filling.
5 Heat water: While the crust bakes, heat 4 or 5 cups of water to boiling for the water bath.
6 Prepare the banana cheesecake: In the bowl of a stand mixer with a paddle attachment (or in a large mixing bowl), blend together the cream cheese, the remaining 3/4 cup sugar, and the salt until smooth.
Add the eggs, one at a time, to the cream cheese mixture, stopping to scrape down the sides after each addition. Mix on low speed for an additional minute.
Add the banana puree and both extracts. Blend on low for another minute. Scrape down the mixing bowl and add the cornstarch. Blend on the lowest speed for 30 seconds, or until no lumps of cornstarch are visible, being careful not to over-mix.
7 Bake the cheesecake: Pour the batter into the prepared pan and set the foil-wrapped springform pan into a larger pan. Add enough hot water to reach halfway up the sides of the springform pan and carefully place the pan into the oven.
Bake the cheesecake for 55 minutes to an 1 hour, or until the top is a light golden brown and the cheesecake jiggles slightly when shaken. Turn the oven off and open the door a crack to allow the cheesecake to cool in the oven for 30 minutes.
8 Cool the cheesecake completely: Once the cheesecake has cooled in the oven, carefully take it out of the oven and remove the foil. Cool the cheesecake on the countertop for an hour, then transfer it to the refrigerator to cool completely, at least 12 hours or up to 24 hours.
9 Decorate the cheesecake: Once the cheesecake is cold, remove the collar from the springform pan. Warm the toffee sauce slightly so that it's pourable but not runny (I set it in a dish of warm water), then drizzle one cup of the toffee sauce over the top of the cheesecake. Use a piping bag to pipe rosettes of whipped cream around the cheesecake and garnish each rosette with a banana chip.
Keep the cheesecake refrigerated until ready to serve, and be sure to keep leftovers chilled, too.
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