Toasted, Salted Cashew Praline-Vanilla Wafer Crust
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Combine vanilla wafer crumbs, cashew praline, and light brown sugar in a food processor with a few light pulses.
Drizzle in melted brown butter and vanilla extract as you’re pulsing, until crust holds together slightly when squeezed.
Press the crust on the bottom and up the side of a lightly buttered 9-inch springform pan, using the bottom and side of a small glass to really pack it in.
Place in preheated oven and bake for 5 – 7 minutes.
Remove and let cool.
Do not turn oven off, keep it at 350F for baking the cheesecake.
Caramelized Banana Cheesecake Filling
Combine cream cheese and sugar in the bowl of a stand-mixer (or in a large bowl if using a hand-mixer) and cream together until smooth.
Add eggs, one at a time, fully incorporating each before adding the next.
Make sure to scrape down the bowl in between each egg.
Add sour cream, heavy cream, vanilla, lemon juice, and liqeuer (if using) and blend until smooth and creamy.
Gently fold in caramelized bananas.
Wrap outside of springform pan, from the bottom up, in tin foil (this prevents water from seeping into the pan).
Pour batter into prepared crust and tap the pan on the counter a few times to bring all air bubbles to the surface.
Place pan into a larger pan and pour boiling water into the larger pan until halfway up the side of the cheesecake pan.
Bake 70 minutes, until it is almost done – but jiggly in the center.
Turn off the oven and let the cheesecake finish baking in the cooling oven for one hour.
This prevents cracks in the cheesecake.
After one hour is up, remove the cheesecake from oven and lift carefully out of water bath.
Let it finish cooling on the counter, and then cover and put in the fridge to chill for several hours to overnight.
Once fully chilled, it is ready to serve.
Serve with your favorite caramel sauce, toffee bits, whipped cream, bruleed banana slices*..or just enjoy as is :).
* To make bruleed banana slices..cut a banana into slices, any way you want. Sprinkle the cut sides, generously, with granulated sugar, and caramelize with a kitchen torch, or place on a lined sheet pan under the broiler, keeping a close eye on them so they don’t burn.
Heat a large heavy saute pan over medium heat, until hot, but not smoking.
Sprinkle sugar around the pan and drizzle with corn syrup.
Cook, without stirring, just gently shaking the pan if some areas are turning color quicker than other areas, until whole mixture turns a golden amber color, about 6-8 minutes.
Stir in butter until smooth (caramel will sizzle), then add chopped bananas and cook until they’re caramelized but still slightly firm, about 4 -5 minutes.
Pour into a bowl and cover with plastic wrap so the caramel doesn’t dry out, until cool and ready to fold into cheesecake batter.
Salted Cashew Praline
Heat a large heavy saute pan over medium heat, until hot, but not smoking. Sprinkle sugar around the pan and drizzle with corn syrup.
Cook, without stirring, just gently shaking the pan if some areas are turning color quicker than other areas, until whole mixture turns a golden amber color, about 8 minutes.
Remove from the heat and add cashews; stir until they’re completely coated.
Cool on parchment lined pan.
Store in an airtight container.
Yield: about 1 1/3 cups cashew praline.