Thursday, April 19, 2012
The Cheesecake That Was Almost Vegan…
Roasted Banana Cheesecake with Maple Rum Sauce
Or, the cheesecake that was almost vegan…
I decided to start the New Year with a new baking challenge: vegan cheesecake. I’ve made many of cheesecakes, before but the roasted banana cheesecake has been calling my name for months now. If you’re a peanut butter and banana junkie, it’ll soon be calling your name too.
The vegan portion of my baking challenge came to a halt during my search for vegan cream cheese. I visited three different stores on my quest, and the only tub of vegan cream cheese that I could find contained partially hydrogenated oil as well as mono and diglycerides (I did think about tofu, but from my experience I thought no. But that’s another story for my upcoming Kitchen Disasters Blog).
I stood in front of the refrigerated case, weighing my decision. I decided that at this point in time my food philosophy values simple, healthy ingredients over dairy-free products. I opted to use organic Neufchatel cheese in my cheesecake, but you can certainly use the vegan (or cow’s milk) cream cheese of your choice.
The star of this recipe is not the cream cheese; it’s the roasted bananas. How could I resist an excuse to throw a few whole bananas (peels and all) into the oven? Though the resulting browned bananas are rather gooey and not so pretty when peeled, their intense flavor complements the creamy filling and nutty crust perfectly.
Can any of my vegan readers recommend a vegan cream cheese that doesn’t contain questionable fats or oils? I would love to turn this into a truly vegan cheesecake.
And no matter what type of cream cheese you prefer this cheesecake is the perfect way to kick off yours or mine new baking adventures! I’m so grateful for all of you who take the time to stop by my blog, and here’s to another year of great friends and food.
For the roasted bananas:
4 large very ripe bananas, unpeeled
For the crust:
1 c. peanut flour
½ cup almond meal
1 tbsp. brown sugar, firmly packed
1/8 tsp. ground cardamom
½ tsp. ground ginger
Pinch of sea salt
4 tbsp. vegan butter, melted slightly
For the filling:
16 oz. Neufchatel cheese (or your choice of cream cheese), room temperature
¾ c. brown sugar, firmly packed
¾ tsp. ground cinnamon
¼ c. dark rum
2 tbsp. cornstarch
¼ tsp. salt
Preheat the oven to 325. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and place the bananas, unpeeled, onto the paper. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until the bananas darken and become soft. Place the pan on a cooling rack and allow to cool to room temperature while you make the crust.
Increase the oven temperature to 400. Combine the peanut flour, almond meal, brown sugar, cardamom, ginger, and salt in a large bowl. Add the butter and mix with a spoon or your fingers until combined.
Press the mixture into the bottom of a 9 inch springform pan. Place the pan in the freezer for 5 minutes, then bake at 400 for 8-10 minutes. The crust should be slightly dried out with lightly browned edges. Place the pan on a cooling rack to cool while you make the filling.
Note: you may choose to use a food processor to make the filling. I used my stand mixer and it came out a bit lumpy due to the texture of the bananas, but it was still tasty!
Peel the roasted bananas and remove any long strings. Using an electric mixer with the whisk attachment beat the bananas on high speed until smooth. Add the cream cheese, sugar, cinnamon, rum, cornstarch, and salt. Beat on medium-high speed until well blended, but not for too long as the cream cheese might separate.
Pour the filling on top of the crust and bake for 10 minutes at 400°. Reduce the oven temperature to 350 and bake for an additional 35-45 minutes, or until the top is light brown and the center is set.
Place the pan on a cooling rack until it cools to room temperature. Then cover the cheesecake with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator to chill overnight.
For the maple rum sauce:
1 c. pure maple syrup
4 tbsp. vegan butter
1 tbsp. dark rum
Sea salt to taste
Add the maple syrup, butter, and salt to a small saucepan. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring frequently, until the sauce has thickened. This will take about 10 minutes.
Remove the saucepan from the heat and gently stir in the rum. Let the sauce cool for a few minutes, then taste test to see if it needs more salt. Allow the sauce to cool, then drizzle it over the cheesecake and serve.