A couple of weeks ago one of my regular visitors, Ela, reached out with a special request, “Can you feature a copycat recipe for The Cheesecake Factory Fresh Banana Cream Cheesecake?” Ela couldn’t have reached out at a better time because I was planning to feature a recipe for Banana Cream Pie. I was a bit concerned because we don’t have a Cheesecake Factory in our area (unfortunately no taste testing to be able to match the flavours and texture) but after visiting their site and reading the description I was confident I could prepare the various elements of the dessert.
I’m really happy Ela made the request because this isn’t a typical cheesecake; it’s topped with a layer of luscious Bavarian Cream. For those of you who have never tried Bavarian Cream it’s very similar to pastry cream but rather than being thickened with flour or cornstarch it’s thickened with gelatin. Essentially it’s a crème anglaise (pouring custard) thickened with gelatin and just prior to setting up heavy cream is first whipped to a soft peak and then folded into the custard.
Like crème anglaise extreme care must be taken when cooking the custard to prevent the eggs from curdling. The custard must be cooked over a low flame and must never boil. The custard is ready when it’s thick enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon and reaches a temperature between 80° C to 82° C (175° F to 180° F). Immediately after adding the gelatin the custard is typically cooled down quickly over an ice water bath before folding in the whipped cream.
Bavarian Cream or Crema Bavarese in Italian (or Bavarois) is usually flavoured with vanilla or liqueur. Popular variations incorporate fruit purée. If served as a dessert the Bavarian is classically set in a large fluted mold. But it can also be served in glasses with a medley of fresh fruit.
My daughter, Liana, was invited to a dinner party at the home of her boyfriend’s parents and she wanted to bring the cheesecake for dessert. Although I’d made more than one I was hesitant because I didn’t have a chance to try the cheesecake before sending it along.
Was I successful in matching The Cheesecake Factory flavours and textures? I haven’t a clue! But I’m hoping Ela will be kind enough to report back once she’s had a chance to try the recipe.
As for how the cheesecake was received? Elisabeth, the hostess, was kind enough to send a message, “Hello Grace and thank you so very, very much for the wonderful cheesecake you made for our dessert last night! We all agreed it was the best cheesecake we’ve ever eaten. Really! It was so light, unlike most cheesecakes, and the banana flavour was a delightful and delicious change.”
Believe it or not I didn’t try the cheesecake until yesterday. I froze the smaller ones until Liana’s schedule freed up to photograph the cheesecakes. And I think she was finally able to set aside the time because her boyfriend, Chad, was eager to dive in, again.
Unfortunately you can’t really see how creamy the texture is in the images because the cakes were still frozen. Let me assure you the texture is very creamy. I did miss one element when I was trying to match The Cheesecake Factory Banana Cream Cheesecake, the crust should have come up the sides of the cake. I will definitely do this the next time I prepare it because the three creamy layers needs the textural contrast the crust provides.
And I might also add a nutty flavour to the crust, either toasted macadamias or the classic pairing of walnuts. To make the dessert extra special, I would serve the cheesecake slices with caramelized bananas.
I’ve made quite a few cheesecakes in the last little while, Mango Cheesecake, Chocolate Chip Cheesecake, Cappuccino Fudge Cheesecake and now this Banana Cream Cheesecake. You can’t go wrong serving cheesecake for dessert, it’s a definite crowd pleaser. The best part about them is their versatility. The flavour possibilities are endless and so are the crust variations.
What’s your favourite cheesecake?
Banana Cream Cheesecake
Makes 1 23-cm (9-inch) cheesecake
**Please note – Instructions below are for preparing the 9-inch cheesecake. (If you would like instructions for the mini cakes please reach out through the comments and I will provide them to you.)
To make the assembly of the cheesecake much easier I took the time to freeze the cheesecake and also the bavarian cream layer (after refrigeration) for about 30 minutes. This step is optional but recommended especially during the warm weather months.
You’ll notice in the photos above for the larger cake the Bavarian Cream Layer is about 2½ to 4-cm high (1 to 1½-inches – forgot to measure) if you prefer the layer not quite so high, pour less Bavarian Cream into the mould and prepare some individual bavarian cream desserts in glasses and garnish with fresh fruit.
Nilla Wafer-Cheesecake Crust
Banana Cream Cheesecake Filling
Vanilla Bean-Bavarian Cream
560 ml (2¼ cups) heavy (whipping) cream, 35%, well chilled
1 vanilla bean, split and seeded
1½ teaspoons unflavoured gelatine
45 ml (3 tablespoons) cold water
40 g (5 tablespoons) confectioners’ sugar, sifted
Combine cream, vanilla bean and seeds in an airtight container; whisk together until vanilla seeds are evenly distributed. Cover and refrigerate until just prior to serving cheesecake.
Chill stand mixer bowl and whip attachment in the freezer, 15 minutes.
In a small saucepan, sprinkle gelatin over cold water; let soften 5 minutes. Place saucepan over low heat and stir until gelatin is dissolved. Remove from heat and let cool.
Remove bowl and attachment from the freezer. Pour chilled cream into chilled bowl. Add the sugar and whisk at high speed until very soft peaks form.
Continue to whisk, and gradually pour the gelatin mixture through a fine mesh sieve into the whipped cream; beat until stiff peaks form.
Nilla Wafer-Cheesecake Crust
If you would like the crust to come up the sides of the cheesecake I would recommend using about 2 to 2¼ cups wafer cookie crumb and also increase the melted butter to between 86 to 100 g (6 or 7 tablespoons).
156 g (about 44) Nilla wafer cookies (about 1¼-cups crumb)
57 g (¼ cup) unsalted butter, melted
Preheat oven to 180° (350° F). For easier cheesecake removal, unlatch 23-cm (9-inch) springform pan and flip the base over (lip facing down). Line the base with a sheet of non-stick baking paper leaving a 5-cm (2-inch) border on all sides. Reattach sides of springform pan (making sure the lip is facing down).
In the bowl of a food processor, process wafer cookies to a fine crumb.
Gradually pour the melted butter through the feed tube and process until crumbs are evenly moistened.
Press the crumb mixture evenly on the base of the springform pan. Transfer to a rimmed baking sheet lined with non-stick baking paper.
Bake the crust on the baking sheet until set, about 8 minutes.
Remove from oven and transfer to a wire rack. Let stand until completely cooled.
Banana Cream Cheesecake Filling
1000 g (4 x 8-ounce packages) cream cheese, room temperature
Seeds from 1 vanilla bean or 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
225 g (1 cup) caster (superfine) sugar
2 ripe bananas, mashed
24 g (3 tablespoons) plain (all-purpose) flour, sifted
4 large eggs, room temperature
160 ml (2/3 cup) buttermilk
60 ml (¼ cup) banana liqueur (substitute with 60 ml (¼-cup) heavy (whipping) cream, 35% + 1 teaspoon banana extract)
1 to 2 tablespoons butter, room temperature
Preheat oven to 160° C (325° F). Bring a teakettle of water almost to a boil. Prepare springform pan for water bath, cut heavy-duty aluminum foil into three 40-cm (16-inch) squares. Layer aluminum squares on a flat work surface, place the cooled springform pan in centre of square; wrap foil tightly around and up the sides of the pan. Place wrapped springform pan into a deep roasting pan (large enough to comfortably fit the size of the springform pan).
In bowl of stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese at medium speed until smooth, scraping down sides, bottom of bowl and attachment occasionally.
Reduce mixer speed to low. Add the vanilla seeds (or extract) and gradually add the sugar, beat until smooth scraping down sides, bottom of bowl and attachment as needed.
Add the mashed bananas and flour; beat to just combine.
Add the eggs, one-at-a-time, beating to just combine scraping down sides, bottom of bowl and attachment after each addition.
Add the buttermilk, banana liqueur and vanilla extract (if using instead of the vanilla seeds) beat to just combine.
Remove the bowl from the mixer. Strain the filling through a fine mesh sieve into a pourable container and using flexible rubber spatula press through any solids. Stir the mixture with the spatula to combine well.
Using pastry brush butter the sides of springform pan.
Pour the filling into the cooled crust. Tap the springform pan gently on the counter to allow any air bubbles that may have formed to dissipate and transfer back to the prepared roasting pan.
Pull out the middle oven rack slightly (just enough to comfortably fill the roasting pan with water); place roasting pan on rack. Carefully pour the hot water from the teakettle into the roasting pan filling about halfway up the side of the springform pan. Carefully push the roasting pan into the centre of the oven rack and then ever so carefully push the oven rack back into the oven.
Bake until set around the edges and the centre of the cheesecake jiggles slightly when the springform pan is gently shaken, 1 hour 15 minutes.
Remove from oven and transfer to a heatproof surface. Immediately remove springform pan from water bath and transfer to wire rack. Remove aluminum foil. Run a thin knife around the edges of the pan and let stand at room temperature away from drafts until cooled completely.
Transfer cheesecake in springform pan uncovered or loosely covered to refrigerator to chill, at least 6 hours, preferably overnight or up to 2 days. (For best taste and texture, allow cheesecake to chill for 2 days.)
Remove from the refrigerator, transfer cheesecake to freezer and chill, 30 minutes.
Vanilla Bean-Bavarian Cream
To prepare a quick dessert, serve Bavarian Cream in glasses garnished with fresh fruit.
250 ml (1 cup + 1 tablespoon) whole milk
1 vanilla bean, split and seeded or 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
5 g (3 sheets) gelatine, gold extra (Dr. Oetker)
3 large egg yolks
57 g (¼ cup) caster (superfine) sugar
375 ml (1½ cups) heavy (whipping) cream, 35%, well chilled
In a small saucepan bring milk, vanilla bean and seeds just to the boil (small bubbles forming around the sides of the pan) over medium heat. Remove from heat, cover and let stand at room temperature allowing vanilla to infuse, 15 to 20 minutes.
Line rimmed baking sheet with a sheet of non-stick baking paper. Place a sheet of plastic wrap on top of the baking paper. Centre an 18-cm or 20-cm (7-inch or 8-inch) ring mould (or sides of a springform pan) on the plastic wrap. Tightly wrap the plastic up the sides of the mould and secure with an elastic band (or tape wrap to mould). Make sure the plastic wrap is smooth on the base of the mould. Line the inside of the mould with acetate paper or non-stick baking paper.
Soak the gelatin leaves in very cold water until softened, 15 minutes. Prepare an ice water bath, fill a large bowl half full with ice and cover the ice with cold water. Set aside.
In a large bowl, using a large balloon whisk beat together the eggs and sugar until thick and pale.
Gradually add the hot milk mixture into the egg mixture, whisking constantly until well combined.
Return the mixture to the saucepan and cook over low heat until mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon and reaches a temperature of between 80° C to 82° C (175° F to 180° F), making sure the mixture does not boil.
Remove from heat. Remove gelatin sheets from water, squeeze out any excess liquid and add the to the milk mixture, stirring until dissolved. If using vanilla extract, add to the mixture and stir to combine.
Strain the mixture through a fine mesh sieve into medium-sized bowl. Place bowl over water bath and stir occasionally until cool and slightly thickened.
Meanwhile, in a large bowl, use handheld electric mixture to beat the heavy cream to soft peaks.
Remove the bowl from the water bath and fold the whipped cream into the milk mixture in two additions. Strain the cream through a fine mesh sieve into the prepared mould. Use an offset spatula to level and spread the cream to the sides. Cover the mould with plastic wrap and transfer to the refrigerator to set, 3 to 4 hours.
Remove from the refrigerator, transfer bavarian cream layer to the freezer and chill, 30 minutes.
For an extra special dessert you may want to serve the cheesecake slices with caramelized bananas. If you’ve never prepared caramelized bananas please reach out via the comments I will be very happy to share the technique.
Fresh bananas, cut on the diagonal, optional, to garnish
Prepare whipped cream.
Remove cheesecake and bavarian cream layer from the freezer. Working quickly, unlatch the springform pan and with the help of a large spatula slide the cheesecake off the baking paper onto cake stand or plate (the cheesecake will easily slide off because we took the time to flip the base over so that the lip is facing down).
Remove mould from bavarian cream layer; remove acetate paper (or baking paper). With the help of a large spatula transfer bavarian layer to the top of the cheesecake, making sure the layer is centred.
Transfer whipped cream to large pastry bag fitted with large decorative tip.
Decorate cheesecake as desired. If desired, use fresh bananas to garnish.