Banana Pudding Cheesecake
Updated: Jun 7, 2019
Say hello to perfection! I'm talking about you...but also this cheesecake. This is the ultimate yummmmmmmmm indulgence. This banana pudding cheesecake is equipped with a vanilla wafer crust, New York style baked cheesecake layered with banana slices, vanilla pudding, more banana slices, drizzled with chocolate ganache and sprinkled with walnuts. Yea... it really needs no further introduction. Just make it. You will be happy you did.
This was actually inspired by my husband who has a love affair with cheesecake. When I met him, 7 years ago, he was astounded that I had never tried cheesecake before. Yea, I know I know. I was 22 years old and never had cheesecake. You have to understand I'm Mexican and Italian so this wasn't a huge dessert to me growing up. Also, I have a weird thing with cheese and was scared I wouldn't like it. Well, he was in a hurry to correct this problem and took me to The Cheesecake Factory on a date. I ordered a key lime tropical cheesecake thing and it was sooooo good. I was sold (on the cheesecake and him haha).
Since then I have had and made many cheesecakes but this one recipe is my absolute favorite base. It's amazing as is or you can literally add any flavor combo to it and it's a star. First off this a New York style BAKED cheesecake, meaning it's dense, smooth and creamy typically made with eggs and sour cream. It's basically heaven in cheesecake form. Now, there are quite a few tips and tricks to making the perfect cheesecake and I wouldn't take any of them lightly. Don't let this scare you off!
I promise you can do this, it's just one of those "definitely read through the recipe before starting" ones. The effort is more than worth it though, I assure you. Plus once you make this base a few times it will be like riding a bike.
Alright, here we go. Number one tip, make sure all your ingredients are room temperature! This is a big one and pretty much applies to every recipe honestly but this is a deal breaker here. If your cream cheese, sour cream and eggs are cold then they won't combine smoothly in your mixer and you'll end up over mixing it causing your cake to be lumpy and blah. So, I recommend taking your cream cheese out at least 2 hours before you plan to make this and your sour cream and eggs out an hour beforehand. Just use your discretion here. Y'all are smart, you want your ingredients NOT COLD. I promise they wont go bad sitting on your counter for a bit.
Tip number 2 kinda goes with tip number one but don't over mix! While you're beating your ingredients stop and scrape the bowl in between quite a bit. This helps combine all the ingredients faster so you're not just sitting there letting you mixer do all the work which will take longer and most likely lead to over beating your ingredients.
Tip number 3 is all about baking. You might have heard of baking your cheesecakes in a water bath. Well, yea that's a thing. The moisture from the water allows the cake to bake evenly through. BUT I do not necessarily do this. It's too much work. I have found it works just as well and so much easier to just put a pan full of water in the oven either next to it (if you cant fit it on a different rack) or right under it on a separate rack. Then you turn on your oven to 325 to preheat and while it's doing its thing it's also heating up your water bath so by the time you put your cheesecake in there it's a perfect little sauna to bake up nice and smooth. I just use a 10 inch cake pan to fill with water but you can use anything really, just make sure it's not too small because you want enough moisture in there with the cake.
Tip number 4 is after the baking. DO NOT TAKE YOUR CHEESECAKE OUT OF THE OVEN. Set your timer to 45 minutes for bake time and then check it. It should be a tad wobbly still if you bump the side of of the pan, not runny but just a tad wobbly. The top will be set and super smooth. Don't touch it but just look at it. If you think its too wobbly then bake for another 5 mins and check again. You want it to be like jello basically, firm but still a little wiggle (also, booty goals). Once you get there, DO NOT MOVE YOUR CAKE. Just turn the oven off, leave everything as is and prop your oven door open slightly. It should be open about 4 to 5 inches and then just walk away. Obviously if you have kids either keep them out of the kitchen during this or just make them aware the oven is open. It will cool rather quickly so it doesn't pose much threat. I have kids and never had an issue here but just be aware. Your cake will need to cool in the oven like this for at least an hour. You can leave it longer if you'd like but an hour should be plenty and then you'll pop it in your fridge to get cold. So why is this so important??? Well, I'll tell you. This is the "no crack" top trick. Yes, its very common for the top of baked cheesecakes to crack upon cooling but that's because if it cools too fast, as its setting it contracts and will cause cracks. If it cools and sets nice and slow (on it's own time just like us women) then this won't happen. Now, I'm not gonna lie, every once in a while it still does it to me despite my efforts. Oh well, It still tastes the same and just cover it up with a delicious ganache or some berries and literally no one knows the difference. Still beautiful and still freakin delicious....just like us.
Alright y'all, you ready for this? I think you are. Recipe is below. Read through it all first and then get your pastry chef on. You got this! I try to be as detailed as I can but feel free to ask me anything!
BANANA PUDDING CHEESECAKE
PREP TIME: 2-3 hours (including thawing out ingredients)
BAKE TIME: 45 -50 minutes
MAKES: 1 9inch cheesecake
2/3 box of vanilla wafer cookies
6 tablespoons melted butter
1 lb softened cream cheese (2 packages)
1 cup white granulated sugar
1 pint sour cream
1/2 lemon zested
1 tablespoon vanilla paste (or extract)
sprinkle of nutmeg
1 package vanilla pudding
3/4 bag chocolate chips (semi sweet or dark)
1/2 cup heavy cream
1. Thaw all cold ingredients to room temperature.
2. Spray a 9 inch spring-form pan lightly with cooking spray.
3. Pour 2/3 box (or more) of vanilla wafers into food processor and pulse until ground into crumbs. Pour into medium bowl.
4. Melt 6 tablespoons of butter. Mix the butter with your cookie crumbs with fork until it comes together. You want it to be moist enough that if you press it against the side of the bowl it holds it shape fine, like wet sand.
5. Pour cookie mixture into your greased spring-form pan and use the bottom of a glass to press the mixture evenly around and up the sides to create your crust. It doesn't need to be perfect or very high up the sides. It really just depends on how think you want your crust. I try to get mine about 1/2 of an inch up the sides and keep it about 1/8 inch think throughout.
6. Place prepared crust in freezer to set.
7. Fill a pan or glass dish with water about 3/4 of the way full and place it on a rack in your cold oven. Just leave room for your cheesecake pan. This is to create your water bath effect for baking your cheesecake.
8. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
9. In a stand mixer, add your 2 packages (1lb) of softened cream cheese. Beat this alone with a paddle mixer attachment to cream.
10. Add eggs one at a time and beat until smooth. Scrape your bowl frequently.
11. While mixer is on low, slowly add your sugar until combined.
12. Stop mixer and add your sour cream, vanilla extract, lemon zest, and nutmeg. Beat until combined. Again, scrape the bowl frequently.
13. Do not over mix. You want a smooth creamy consistency. It shouldn't have lumps except maybe the random tiny dot here and there.
14. Remove your crust from the freezer. Pour cheesecake mixture into your prepared pan. Tap gently on the counter to remove air bubbles.
15. Place on open rack in your preheated sauna oven. Bake for 45 minutes. Check consistency (see notes above recipe) and bake for another 5 minutes or until done. Turn oven off, prop open oven door slightly and let cool inside oven for at least an hour. This prevents the top from cracking.
16. After it's cool and set here you will transfer to your fridge to get cold and finishing setting for 1-3 hours. It's really up to you here. We have eaten it after an hour in the fridge and after overnight in the fridge. It's good either way. The longer it's in there the more firm it will be though but still yummy none the less.
17. While your cheesecake is cooling, prepare the vanilla pudding according to the box. It's different depending on which one you buy. You can always make your own custard here too, it totally up to you.
18. Slice up all your bananas to get them ready for layering. I sliced the ones under the pudding in little coin like pieces and the ones on top I sliced long ways because I thought it looked prettier for presentation purposes. Again, you do you boo,
19. Take your cooled cake out of the fridge and remove the outside of your spring-form pan which should leave you with a pretty little cheese cake on the base of the pan. You can put it on stand or just leave it on a plate.
20. Start to layer on your banana slices so it has an even covering on top. Next, spoon on your vanilla pudding till you have a good sized layer, about 1/4 inch thick and then place your second layer of banana slices on top of this. Place back in fridge.
21. Pour 3/4 of a bag of chocolate chips in a medium sized bowl or a BIG glass measuring cup. I find that easier simply because I can pour the ganache straight out of this when I'm done or you can just spoon it on.
22. Heat 1/2 cup of heavy cream on stove till simmering. Don't boil. Remove from heat immediately and pour over your chocolate chips. Mix with fork or spoon until all chocolate is melted and a smooth ganache is formed. Be patient, it will come together.
23. Remove cheesecake from fridge and pour your ganache over top in any way you'd like with as much as you'd like. There is literally do wrong way to do this.
24. Sprinkle with walnuts and TA-DA!! You can dive straight in or put in fridge for hours to overnight. The longer it sets in the fridge, the prettier of a slice it cuts but we couldn't wait. Makes, a great make ahead dessert too if you can get it to last that long. It was gone in a few days for us. It should be fine in your fridge up to a week but I promise it won't be there in a week. ;)