Banana Ricotta Cheesecake

If necessity is the mother of invention is it safe to say then that random leftover ingredients are the building blocks to great recipes? Just a thought! And when I say leftover, I mean leftover, half finished, not wanting it to go bad, and somewhere in the middle of all that ingredients. That’s pretty much how this Banana Ricotta Cheesecake came about. I had a container of ricotta cheese in the fridge that was quickly approaching its expiration date and two bananas on the table that were quite ripe and I just didn’t feel like making pasta or a banana bread. After some Google searches I couldn’t find anything that I really wanted to make or I found recipes that required ingredients I just didn’t have on hand and didn’t want to buy. So, I figured since I bake enough it was about time that I tried going without a recipe, okay, not completely without one. I did some major tweaking to a Ricotta Cheesecake I had made before. But, I think this is still somewhat original.

Unfortunately, my cheesecake did crack in the middle. It wasn’t so bad when I first took it out of the oven, but, as it cooled it got bigger. Oh well!

But, after slicing it and plating it with chocolate sauce and whipped cream that unfortunate crack was nothing to be bothered by as I am happy to say I was quite pleased with how the cheesecake came out. The banana flavor was subtle but still detectable, not as strong as banana bread but not as faint as a hint. And no, in case you are wondering there were no traces of banana in the cheesecake itself since I was sure to blend the mashed banana, sugar and cream cheese until they were smooth.

Banana Ricotta Cheesecake

Ingredients:

18 graham crackers

1 stick unsalted butter, melted

2 ripe bananas, mashed

8 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature

1/4 cup granulated sugar

2 cups whole milk ricotta

1 tbsp. pure vanilla extract

4 large eggs

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 F.

Process the graham crackers in a food processor until they become fine crumbs. Add the butter and process until blended. Pat the crumbs into the bottom and halfway up the sides of a 9-inch springform pan. Place on a baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes. All to cool completely.

In a large bowl, beat the mashed bananas, cream cheese and sugar with an electric mixer until smooth. Add the ricotta and vanilla extract and continue beat until smooth. Add the eggs 1 at a time, beating well after each one.

Pour the mixture into the cooled crust and bake for 50 – 60 minutes. Until a cake tester inserted in the middle come out clean. Cool on a wire rack for 45 minutes, then refrigerate and chill for at least 2 hours. Serve at room temperature.

Nilla Wafer Cupcakes with Banana Cream Cheese Frosting

I have a confession to make; I have never had a s’more. It sounds like a good combination, a roasted marshmallow sandwiched between two graham crackers and a piece of chocolate; then again, I am not a big fan of marshmallows. I used to love them as a child but somewhere along the way I just wasn’t as keen on them as I got older. And then recently, in the July issue of Real Simple magazine, I came across a recipe for S’mores Cupcakes that I thought of trying but then I had the idea of swapping out the graham cracker crumbs in the cupcake for Nilla Wafer crumbs and because I didn’t think that the marshmallow and chocolate ganache would be the right topping for it I decided to create a banana cream cheese frosting to top it off.

IMG_4483

To begin I used a food processor to turn approximately twenty-five Nilla Wafer cookies into crumbs.

IMG_4458

I then whisked the crumbs in with flour, baking powder and salt.

IMG_4459

In another bowl I creamed together butter and sugar until it was light and fluffy and then added in two eggs – one at a time – and finally vanilla extract. It was then time to add the crumb mixture along with whole milk to this mixture.

IMG_4461

I alternated between the crumb mixture and milk, beginning and ending with the crumb mixture, until the batter came together.

IMG_4462

Using my trusted ice cream scoop I filled a 12-cup muffin tin lined with paper liners.

IMG_4466

After baking for a little over 20 minutes (I rotated the tin halfway through) the cupcakes were done. I let them cool in the tin for 10 minutes before removing them and letting them cool completely on a wire rack.

IMG_4471

And then it was time for the frosting… To begin I used an electric mixer to beat an overripe banana to “liquefy” it.

IMG_4475

Following that I added in one stick of butter and an 8 oz. bar of cream cheese – both at room temperature – and creamed them together until they were incorporated. To sweeten the frosting a bit I added in 1/2 cup of confectioners’ sugar 1/4 cup at a time. I ended up with a frosting that was quite fluffy.

IMG_4476

While it wouldn’t have been a bad idea to let the frosting sit in the refrigerator for a few minutes so it could stiffen up a bit, I opted to frost with it immediately.

IMG_4480

Final verdict… A winning flavor combination!

IMG_4489

 

 

Nilla Wafer Cupcakes – Adapted from here

Makes 12

1 cup Nilla Wafer crumbs (from 25-30 crackers – If you have any extra crumbs you can use them as a topping for the cupcakes)

1 cup all-purpose flour, spooned and leveled

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon fine salt

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature

3/4 cup sugar

2 large eggs

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

3/4 cup whole milk

1. Heat the oven to 350 F and line a standard 12-cup muffin tin with paper liners. Whisk together the Nilla Wafer crumbs, flour, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl.

2. Beat the butter and sugar in a separate bowl with an electric mixer until light and fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, then the vanilla extract, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary. Reduce the mixer to low and add the dry ingredients and milk, alternately, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients and mixing well between additions. Mix until just combined.

3. Divide the batter among the muffin cups. Bake, rotating once, until a toothpick inserted in the center of a cupcake comes out clean, 20 to 24 minutes. Cool in the tin for 10 minutes; transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

 

Banana Cream Cheese Frosting

1 overripe banana

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature

8 oz. (1 bar) cream cheese, at room temperature

1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar

1. Beat the banana with an electric mixer on medium speed to “liquefy” it. Add the butter and cream cheese and continues mixing until all of the ingredients are well combined.

2. Beat in the confectioners’ sugar in 2 additions – 1/4 cup at a time. Continue mixing until the sugar has been completely incorporated.

Banana Nut Bread… A Single Loaf

As some of you may know I have a tendency to let bananas sit for a tad bit too long which means I won’t eat them – I prefer my bananas not to have any spots on them – but instead I bake with them. Over the course of my blogging I have made Marbled Nutella Banana Bread, Banana & Chocolate Cupcakes, Banana Chocolate Chip & Nut Muffins, Banana Cream Pie, and the first banana recipe I posted, Banana Nut Bread. Which I just made again, although the first time I made it I followed the recipe exactly and ended up with two loaves, this time though I only had three of the six called for bananas so I decided to halve the recipe and am happy to say it worked out perfectly, so I decided to share that with you today. I must say I never particularly cared for Banana Bread until I made it myself and this recipe was definitely key to me liking it. It’s the perfect amount of banana flavor and sweetness.
IMG_3611
Ingredients:
1/2 cup butter (1 stick)
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 cups flour
3 large bananas, very ripe, mashed
1/2 cup finely chopped walnuts*
Directions:
Preheat the oven to 325 F & grease one loaf pan.
Cream together the butter and sugar. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition.
Sift the dry ingredients together and add to the cream mixture. Stir in the bananas and chopped walnuts.
Pour batter into prepared pan and bake for about an hour and 15 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
*The original recipe called for pecans