Food + Wine

Salted Caramel Banana Pudding Cheesecake.

(exhale)

That’s a lot of words. I know. But I got your attention, didn’t I?

This dessert is a big’un.  It’s serious business, y’all.  This dessert is what we all love in banana pudding, and cheesecake, and salty- caramelized things.

It’s messy, in the best way possible.  (So much so, that taking its picture required one caramelized finger and one shutter finger at all times.)

And oh, so, indulgently fantastic.

It’s the kind of dessert that while making it, standing alone, barefoot in your kitchen- your fingers beg to be deliberately and incessantly licked. Over and over again, they will find some sort of delicious thing on them and beg to be tongue cleaned.

(ahem)

I made this the other day for the Memorial Day cookout that my father hosts for our town.  I’ll share more about that soon, but more about this here dessert…

I tried so very hard to get a beautiful image of this for you.  A perfect image.  An image that shows you time standing still for a moment.  But that just isn’t possible with this.  It isn’t possible to tell ooey, gooey caramel goodness to behave.  It wants to be bad.  It wants to wander.  And deviate.

So, this is the most perfect shot of this dessert, showing you all that it truly and authentically is.

Deviantly.

Delightfully.

Deliberately.

Messy Awesomeness.

SALTED CARAMEL BANANA PUDDING CHEESECAKE

about 24 servings

. crust .

In your food processor, pulse the following, until it’s crumby…

  • 11-12 oz box vanilla wafers

Add in…

  • 1 1/2 sticks (12 TB) unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt, rounded

Process until you have the consistency of wet sand.

Dump and press this firmly (and evenly) into a 9 x 13 inch baking dish.

Set aside. (Can be done ahead)

 

. caramel a.k.a. dulce de leche .

Remove the contents of 2 (14 oz) cans of sweetened condensed milk into 2 pint sized mason jars.

Close the lids tightly.

Place in your slow cooker.

Pour water to cover the jars to about halfway up.

Place lid on slow cooker and turn on low.  Cook for 8 hours, and until you have a dark caramel color.

Remove from the jars before it cools, because it will set inside those jars and not want to ever come out.

(This is the easiest and laziest way to make the bestest caramel slash dulce de leche.)

 

. vanilla blancmange a.k.a. vanilla pudding w/o eggs .

In a medium saucepan, combine the following, and whisk until lump free…

  • 1/3 cup light brown sugar
  • 6 TB cornstarch
  • solid pinch kosher salt

In a microwave safe bowl, heat the following until very hot, but not boiling…

  • 2 1/2 cups half & half (or whole milk)

Place your saucepan on a burner over medium heat.

Slowly whisk in your hot milk. Whisk well, as you don’t want lumps.

You will see the mixture begin to thicken very quickly.

Once it’s thickened, switch to a spatula and stir your pudding on low heat for a few minutes.

Turn off the heat and add…

  • a couple splashes vanilla extract

Set aside (can be done ahead) and wait to add to your cheesecakey part…

 

. cheesecakey part .

In a large mixing bowl, combine the following…

  • 2 (8 oz) bricks neufchatel cream cheese, softened completely and at room temperature (I prefer the flavor of reduced fat)
  • the zest of 1 lemon and a squeeze of its juice
  • 2 TB powdered sugar
  • 2 splashes vanilla extract

Beat this with an electric mixer until fluffy.

Add in your cooked vanilla pudding.

Continue to beat with the electric mixer until fully combined.

 

. assembly .

Pour your still warm dulce de leche over your prepared cookie crust. (Still warm because it’s easier to spread.  Do this ahead of time if you’re planning on beginning this dessert a bit before you can complete it.)

Sprinkle a decent amount of kosher salt over the caramel surface.

Slice about 5-6 bananas to cover the salted caramel in one layer (depends on banana size).

Pour your pudding/cheesecakey layer over the bananas and spread carefully with a spatula to create an even layer.

Cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours, but 8 being the optimal minimum time.

Serve chilled.

And often.

(I do not recommend completing the entire dish ahead of time, as the bananas begin to brown and mush…  I recommend making this as close to the time of ‘chill before serving’ as you can!)

Thanks for reading, y’all!  Have a killer weekend. xo

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