Leroy’s sweet tooth… Banana Pudding Cheesecake

My dad didn’t really care for sweets. Unless it was a honey bun from the corner bodega. You know the ones with that white, thick, super sweet frosting on it that used to cost about .25 cents? It was the quickest cure for his sweet tooth.

Now, if he really had time and patience, he would make banana pudding. From Scratch! My parents were from the South. So I knew nothing about fancy kitchen gadgets, pots, and pans until I was about 9 or 10 when I really started watching PBS (we didn’t have cable) on Sunday afternoons right after church. Anyway, my dad would get out the frying pan with no handle. Which I now know is a saute pan. It wasn’t the only pan we had but for some reason he used this one whenever he was making banana pudding. He would fill it half way with water and put the sauce pan in it. Now the sauce pan was always too small for the filling when he made it, but it was his way and it worked for him.

He added all of his ingredients into that sauce pan while it sat in this briskly boiling water. From watching various cooking shows, I knew he was doing it all wrong. He should have been using a double boiler. But, like I said it worked for him and no one could tell him that he was wrong. He never measured anything. A cup for us was a coffee mug. A teaspoon, the smallest spoon we had in the house. A whisk? Ha! We used a fork. He made due with what we had. Because of our lack of measuring utensils, he would pour the sugar directly from the bag into the pot. We never knew if it was going to be just right or overly sweet. It didn’t matter to us because it was great anyway. He would ask my younger sister Kim and I from time to time to stir it, so that it wouldn’t get lumpy. There were always lumps because thats what happens when you add all of the ingredients to the pot at the same time.

Fluffy meringue…
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Creamy pudding…
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Cheesecake

Adapted from the Joy of Baking.
Banana Pudding courtesy of Leroy Porter

Crust:
2 cups of Graham crackers or Vanilla Wafers
¼ cup sugar
½ cup unsalted butter, melted

Filling:
32 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
1 cup sugar
3 tablespoons all purpose flour
5 large eggs, room temperature
1/3 cup heavy whipping cream
Zest from 1 lemon
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract

Homemade Pudding
2 cups half and half
½ cup sugar
5 large egg yolks, reserve whites
Pinch of Salt
6 tablespoons cornstarch
2 teaspoons vanilla extract or 1 vanilla bean scraped of seeds
2 tablespoons of cold butter

Banana Pastry Cream
3 tablespoons banana liqueur OR
2 teaspoons of banana flavoring and 1 tablespoon of Rum
2 Tablespoons of Sugar
2 semi-ripe bananas, sliced

*Note: You can skip the homemade pudding and get instant vanilla pudding. Just add the banana Liquor or the flavoring rum combo :o)

Cheesecake

Line a spring form pan with parchment (make a circle for the bottom and two long strips for the sides. Grease, or spray with Pam, a 9 inch spring form pan. Place the spring form pan on a larger baking pan to catch any leakage while the cheesecake is baking. Preheat oven to 350 degrees with rack in center of oven. (I place a pan filled with water on the bottom of the oven to prevent the cake from cracking.)

For Crust: In a medium sized bowl combine the vanilla wafer crumbs, sugar, and melted butter. Press the crumbs evenly over the bottom and about 1 inch up the sides of the spring form pan. Refrigerate while you make the filling.

 

For Filling: In bowl of your electric mixer place the cream cheese, sugar, and flour. Beat on medium speed until smooth (about 2 minutes), scraping down the bowl as needed. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well (about 30 seconds) after each addition. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the whipping cream, lemon zest, vanilla extract and beat until incorporated. Remove the crust from the refrigerator and pour in the filling. Place the cheesecake pan on a larger baking pan and place in the oven.

Bake for 15 minutes and then lower the oven temperature to 250 degrees F and continue to bake for about another 60 – 90 minutes or until firm and only the center of the cheesecake looks a little wet and wobbly. (The baking time can vary due to the differences in ovens, so make sure to check that the cheesecake is firm with only the center being a little wet and wobbly.) Remove from oven and let cool completely. Refrigerate.

Let cool completely before covering with plastic wrap. Refrigerate several hours, preferably overnight. I like to freeze for the recipe.

Pastry Cream

  1. Heat half-and-half, 6 tablespoons of the sugar, and salt in a medium, heavy bottomed saucepan over medium heat until sugar dissolves.
  2. Whisk the egg yolks, in a bowl until thoroughly combined. Whisk in remaining sugar until creamy. Add cornstarch and whisk until pale yellow and thick, about 30 seconds.
  3. Remove the half and half from the heat and add to the cornstarch and yolk mixture. Tempering until all is combined.
  4. Pour the mixture back into a clean medium saucepan (cleaning the saucepan prevents the pudding from scorching), add the banana liqueur, and whisk over medium-low heat until it thickens, and is glossy about 30 seconds.
  5. Transfer the pudding to a clean bowl.
  6. Add the vanilla and butter and gently whisk until the butter is completely melted and incorporated.
  7. Strain pastry cream though a sieve if necessary. Press a piece of plastic wrap onto the surface of the pudding to prevent a skin from forming. Refrigerate for 4 hours or over an ice bath (stirring constantly until pudding is cold.)

Assembling Cheesecake:

  1. Put oven on broil. Whip your egg whites until frothy. Add the sugar until soft peaks form.
  2. Take refrigerated cheesecake and spread the cooled pudding. Arrange sliced bananas in 1 layer.
  3. Add meringue about 2 inches high. Place on middle oven rack and watch until the top gets slightly brown. Remove immediately and place in the refrigerator.

 

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