Banana Pudding Cheesecake Bars

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An easy way to enjoy banana pudding.

Banana Pudding Cheesecake Bars
Photo: Victor Protasio; Food Styling: Ruth Blackburn; Prop Styling: Audrey Davis
Active Time:
35 mins
Bake Time:
55 mins
Cool Time:
70 mins
Chill Time:
6 hrs
Total Time:
8 hrs 40 mins
Servings:
12

If you thought there was no way to improve upon the classic dessert that is Banana Pudding, get ready to change your mind. Our Banana Pudding Cheesecake Bars are the dessert mash-up you never knew you needed.

These Banana Pudding Cheesecake Bars have all of the warm, custardy flavors of an old-fashioned banana pudding, but they're much easier to make and take to a gathering. From the silky cheesecake filling to the brown butter-vanilla wafer crust, these bars have layers of flavor in every bite. The light and fluffy vanilla bean whipped cream provides a nice contrast to the rich and creamy cheesecake filling. It's important to give the cheesecake filling enough time to chill so that the mixture sets properly and slices cleanly. When making the cheesecake batter, don't overbeat it when adding the eggs. This can cause the filling to puff up, fall, and crack as it bakes in the oven.

These Banana Pudding Cheesecake Bars have a secret ingredient. A splash of banana liqueur (such as 99 Bananas) adds a tropical, fruity note, but you can omit it if you prefer, or use an equal amount of rum. The bits of fresh banana in each bar come through well, but the liqueur gives it a more intense and memorable flavor.

Ingredients

Brown Butter-Vanilla Wafer Crust

  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter

  • 1 ½ cups finely ground vanilla wafer crumbs (from about 50 vanilla wafers)

  • ¼ cup granulated sugar

  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt

  • ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg

Filling and Toppings

  • 3 medium (about 6 oz. each) bananas, divided

  • 2 tablespoons light brown sugar

  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice (from 1 lemon)

  • 1 tablespoon (½ oz.) banana liqueur (optional)

  • 3 (8-oz.) pkg. cream cheese, softened

  • 1 cup granulated sugar

  • 3 large eggs

  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

  • Vanilla Bean Whipped Cream

  • Vanilla wafers

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 325°F. Melt unsalted butter in a small saucepan over medium. Cook, whisking constantly, until butter reaches a deep golden brown and smells nutty, about 3 to 5 minutes. Stir together brown butter, vanilla wafer crumbs, granulated sugar, kosher salt, and ground nutmeg in a bowl.

  2. Line bottom and sides of a 9-inch square baking pan with parchment paper, allowing 2 inches to extend over sides; set aside. Press crust mixture into bottom of prepared pan. Bake until golden brown and firm, about 10 to 12 minutes. Remove from oven; transfer pan to a wire rack to cool while preparing filling. Increase oven temperature to 350°F.

  3. Chop 2 of the bananas; place in a small saucepan with brown sugar and lemon juice. Cook over medium-high, stirring constantly until sugar is dissolved, about 1 minute. Remove from heat, and stir in banana liqueur, if using; cool 10 minutes.

  4. Beat cream cheese and 1 cup of the granulated sugar with a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment on medium speed until light and creamy, 3 minutes. Reduce speed to medium-low; add eggs, 1 at a time, beating until just combined and scraping bowl as needed. Add vanilla; beat until smooth, about 30 seconds. Add banana mixture; beat until just combined, about 30 seconds. Pour filling over cooled crust in pan; smooth top with a spatula.

  5. Bake at 350°F until center is set and no longer jiggles when gently shaken, 45 to 55 minutes. Remove from oven; cool completely on a wire rack, about 1 hour. Cover with plastic wrap; chill at least 6 hours or up to 24 hours.

  6. Carefully remove cheesecake from baking pan using parchment paper as handles. Cut into 12 (1½- x 4½-inch) rectangles, and arrange on a platter. Pipe Vanilla Bean Whipped Cream on each cheesecake bar as desired. Cut remaining banana into ½-inch-thick rounds. Top bars with banana rounds and vanilla wafers as desired; serve immediately.

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