Banana Pudding Cheesecake
For the crust
3 cups graham cracker crumbs
1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 cup (1 stick) + 5 tablespoons salted butter, melted
4 (8 ounce) packages full-fat cream cheese, softened to room temperature
1 1/2 cups packed light brown sugar
1 (3.4 ounce) package banana cream instant pudding powder
2 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream, cold
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste, or vanilla extract
1 teaspoon almond extract
Banana cream pudding- optional
Mini nilla wafers- optional
Fresh banana coins- optional
Fresh mint leaves, for garnish- optional
Make the crust: Preheat the oven to 350°F. Prepare a 9×13-inch baking pan by fitting it with parchment paper with enough paper hanging over the sides to ensure easy lifting; and then spray it with baking spray for extra measure. Then set it aside.
In a large bowl, combine the graham cracker crumbs, brown sugar, cinnamon, and melted butter together. Use your hands (with disposable gloves, if desired) to bring everything together until it begins to feel like wet sand. Empty the crumb mixture into the prepared baking pan and use your hands/bottom of a measuring cup to firmly press the mixture tightly onto the bottom of the pan.
Bake the crust in the oven for 10 minutes. Then set it aside while you make the filling.
Prepare the cheesecake filling: In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or using an electric hand mixer, beat the cream cheese together until silky smooth. Then add in the brown sugar and continue beating until well combined.
In a separate bowl, combine the banana cream instant pudding powder and heavy cream together. Use a whisk to combine the mixture together until the pudding powder dissolves- it’s okay if it is not completely smooth. Pour this mixture into the bowl with the cream cheese and continue beating together until everything is combined with no visible lumps present. Then add in the vanilla bean paste and almond extract, and beat again to fully combine.
Pour the cheesecake filling directly on top of the cooled crust. The cheesecake batter should be thick, use an offset spatula to smooth the filling out evenly in the pan. Cover the baking pan carefully with plastic wrap or foil and transfer the pan into the refrigerator to let the cheesecake set overnight for at least 8 hours or ideally for 12 hours (for best results).
Take the cheesecake out of the refrigerator and carefully lift the parchment paper sides out. Place the cheesecake onto a large enough plate or board. Then use a large knife to cut it into squares- I like to run my knife under hot water in between slicing to ensure clean/neat cuts.
Garnish the cheesecake squares with a dollop of banana cream pudding, mini nilla wafers, banana coins, and fresh mint leaves, if desired. Enjoy!
Banana Pudding Cheesecake