Tuesday, 14 May 2013

Keeping it Sweet With Banoffee Cheesecake

We spent this weekend visiting some very good friends and it's traditional that I indulge my love of baking and bring the dessert.  I usually make something I've never tried before and this time I decided to try James Martin's Banoffee Cheesecake which combines two of my favourite foods - bananas and caramel.  Another part of the appeal of this is that cheesecakes don't take as long to make as some dishes and I didn't want to spend hours on end in the kitchen instead of spending time with my friends and my husband.


The recipe calls for a tin of caramel or dulce de leche but after making Nigella Lawson's salted caramel sauce a few weeks ago (which is utterly delicious by the way) to go in my Millionaire's Chocolates I thought it would be nicer to make my own.  I made the caramel first to give it time to cool down before I wanted to use it.


caramel ingredients salted caramel sauce

I melted the sugar, butter and syrup together in a pan and allowed them to simmer for a few minutes before adding the cream and salt.  I used the sea salt I bought specially last time and decided to put a little less in this time.  I love salted caramel but I found that a whole teaspoon was a little overpowering for my personal tastes so I stuck to a half teaspoon this time.  Once the caramel was done I set it to one side to cool.

Next up I made the cheesecake base.  I took the chocolate Hob Nobs and put them in a freezer bag ready for crushing and looked around for my rolling pin.  When I realised that I had yet again left this at my Mum's house I took a big spoon instead and got busy bashing my Hob Nobs into submission.  It seemed to take ages so I obviously wasn't in a bad enough mood for this sort of work and I ended up splitting the freezer bag before they were quite crumby enough.  You can do this in a little mixer of course if you prefer but call me old fashioned, I'd rather bash them with a bit of personal effort.


Hob Nobs for cheesecake base crushed biscuits cheesecake base

I gently melted the butter and honey and then mixed in my Hob Nob crumbs making sure they were well coated before pressing them into the base of my tin.  Now I don't know about you but it always seems to me that the amounts a cheesecake recipe tells you to use to make the bases gives a rather pathetic, thin offering and this time was no exception.  I looked at my weedy base which I couldn't even quite get to completely cover the bottom of the tin and compared it suspiciously with the picture in front of me which seemed to show a rather nice, thick and crunchy looking bottom.  I found it hard to believe they were using the same amounts in the same size tin and as my tin was the exact size requested by the recipe I can only conclude that base was either rather one sided or else there was simply more of it.

No one likes a stingy base so I went full on and made the same amount of mixture again, ringing the changes by using the handle of a screwdriver to crumble the Hob Nobs this time, before pressing it into the tin and getting a very satisfactory, thick and even base to build the rest of the cheesecake on.  I could have just done half as much again but everyone knows its far better to swing to the other end of the pendulum before you eventually come to the middle.


paltry cheesecake base thick cheesecake base

Base done and set aside I got to work on my topping.  First of all I sliced up three bananas and fried them gently in some butter until they started to turn a little golden.  I let these cool and then arranged them on the base.  Whilst they were cooling I made the rest of the topping.

frying banana slices fried banana slices

I whisked together the cream cheese and icing sugar then folded in the salted caramel reserving a little for the top.  I spooned the cheese caramel mixture over the bananas and put the whole thing in the fridge to set.

icing sugar and cream cheese cheesecake topping
bananas with cheesecake base banoffee cheesecake

After a delicious Italian based seafood dinner cooked by my lovely friends we were ready for dessert.  I took my remaining banana and sliced it then arranged the pieces over the top of the cheesecake.  James Martin suggests frying all the bananas and keeping some back for the top but as we had to transport the cheesecake 80 miles I decided not to have bananas exposed on the top for this length of time.  Once my fresh banana was in place I spooned over the rest of the salted caramel sauce and served the cheesecake straight away.



The extra thick base proved a strong adversary and took some persuasion to be cut through.  Next time 1.5 times the recipe amounts will probably be a good compromise instead of a beefy double portion.  The cheesecake topping threatened to melt and initially it spread slightly alarmingly.  I need to perhaps simmer the caramel a little longer to thicken it so that when it's added to the cream cheese mixture it doesn't end up quite as thin.  After the first spread it did stabilise but it was slightly too squishy overall and I'll try to correct this next time.

Three quarters of the cheesecake disappeared in the next ten minutes though so there was clearly nothing wrong with the taste.  James Martin uses chocolate sauce on top rather than caramel but I do seem to have a caramel obsession at the moment so that was my choice this time.  According to my husband I will be making this again very soon so perhaps I'll make chocolate sauce next time.

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