Any Cheesecake Factory lovers out here? Yes? Really the only reason I go there is for the crabcakes and then a big dessert. Small meal, big dessert. And personally I love the way they keep their restaurant so clean and shiny (cleanest bathrooms too). You know what cracks me up? They have a weight management menu, I mean seriously, The Cheesecake Factory and a diet menu are like an oxymoron. But hey you have to give them credit for appealing to all types.
They have the best tasting banana cheesecake. I have yet to find a similiar great tasting banana cheesecake, and they serve it with freshly chopped bananas. They do need a bit of help on their whipping cream though--it's really not that fresh tasting, does taste like it came out of a can. But that's ok, since I love the banana cheesecake so much. I have tried like the devil to recreate their banana cheesecake at home with no luck. On my last failed attempt I made these little gems. I'm still on my coconut kick so I had to add it to the base for these bars and I also wanted to add in some rum, but was afraid so I made rum-soaked cherries. Rum, can be at times a little overpowering, so I didn't want to chance it and ruin the cheesecake, after all all that cream cheese is expensive, so I added the rum to the cherries instead. It was a nice little hint of rum.
And if you do make this, make sure to grease your pans/tins. I forgot and it was impossible getting them out. Impossible. (as you can see in this photo the edges are frayed).
What is your favorite cheesecake?
banana-coconut cheesecake bars w/ rum soaked cherries
for the base:
Butter, for greasing pan or tarts
2 tablespoons sugar
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
9 graham crackers
¼ cup of dried coconut flakes (not the sweetened/moist kind)
1 stick unsalted butter, melted
for the filling:
16 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
2 ripe bananas, mashed
1 lemon, the zest of and all it’s juice
1/2 cup superfine sugar
¼ cup +/- of cherries, split in half or pitted, soaked in a bit of dark rum (soaked overnight is best)
Powdered sugar, for dusting
Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
Make sure to pit your cherries, slice them in half, place in a bowl and sprinkle with a bit of dark rum; just a coating. Cover and store in fridge until ready to use; they should marinate overnight or at least 5 hours.
Grease the bottom of a mini cheesecake square tart pans or muffins pans (or you could use a 9 by 9-inch baking pan) with butter. Spray with non-stick cooking spray. In a food processor, process the sugar, cinnamon, and graham crackers until you have the texture of bread crumbs. Then add in, by hand the coconut and mix.
Add the melted butter and pulse a couple of times to fully incorporate.
Scoop out the mixture and press into the tart pans or baking pans. Make sure to press down good and get into all the corners. I used a small spoon for the corners of the mini tart pans.
Bake in the oven for 12 minutes until golden. When done set aside to cool.
Add cream cheese, eggs, mashed banana(s), lemon zest, lemon juice and sugar to the food processor and mix until well combined; you want a nice smooth, lump-free consistency. I then transferred the mixture to a pouring cup and poured the mixture on top of the cooled graham base.
Gently put about 3-4 of the rum soaked cherries on the top of each of the mini tarts—don’t push them down, just let them sit on the top. They might sink a little during cooking. Bake in the oven for 35 minutes, rotating pan halfway through or until the center only slightly jiggles. The baking time might be more if you are using a pan. The square tarts that I used only took 35 minutes. But I could have gotten away with cooking them 30 minutes as they were a little over-done.
Remove from the oven and cool completely before refrigerating for at least 3 hours.
Once set, they should remove easily from pan. If using the 9 x 9 pan, cut them into rectangular bars. Dust with powdered sugar.