Banana Pudding Cheesecake

published Sep 15, 2022
Banana Pudding Cheesecake Recipe

This no-bake banana cheesecake employs a pastry chef's secret ingredient in order to achieve a firm, sliceable texture. Get ready to go in for second, third, fourth helpings.

Serves12

Prep30 minutes

Cook30 minutes

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A photo of a slice of banana pudding cheesecake, with alternating slices of banana and nilla wafers around the rim of the cake, and the rest of the cake in the background.
Credit: Shilpa Uskokovic

It’s hard not to love banana pudding. Despite the use of bananas, luscious vanilla pudding and Nilla wafers are the true reason for the dessert’s popularity. When I set out to create a cheesecake version of it, I wanted to preserve that unctuous, custardy texture. And because a more traditional baked cheesecake is just a bit more firm than is ideal for this application, I decided to go in a no-bake direction. 

No-bake cheesecakes are often too light and airy, which I didn’t want. I solved this problem by decreasing the amount of heavy cream, adding mascarpone, and making a stovetop custard component. Because most modern banana puddings use condensed milk, that ingredient was a must. With the help of a food processor, this cheesecake came together fairly quickly. 

Credit: Shilpa Uskokovic

The Key Ingredients in this Banana Pudding Cheesecake

  • Stovetop custard: Although I love instant pudding and think it is a great multipurpose ingredient, I was keener on recognizing traditional Southern banana pudding, made with stovetop custard. I did that using condensed milk for its signature buttery toffee flavor.
  • Cream cheese and mascarpone: To turn this into a cheesecake, I just needed to add, well, cheese — in this case, two kinds. I opted for American cream cheese for its sturdiness and lactic flavor and Italian mascarpone for its luscious texture and sweetness.
  • Gelatin: To give the cheesecake a firm, sliceable texture, I turned to a pastry chef’s secret ingredient: gelatin. Gelatin takes a minimum of 12 hours to firm up, preferably 24 hours, so this cheesecake is the perfect make-ahead dessert.
  • Nilla wafers: They’re a must, in my opinion. I tried making a homemade version, and although I was happy with the texture, it lacked that nostalgic vanilla flavor. 

What Keeps Bananas from Turning Brown in Banana Pudding Cheesecake

Acid is what slows down the oxidation of certain ingredients. Think about guacamole: Lime juice is added not just to season and help you digest fatty avocado, but also to help keep its bright green color. Similarly, lime or lemon juice will slow the oxidation of bananas, which is why I call for brushing lemon juice onto the bananas in this recipe. It won’t prevent browning completely — eventually, they will discolor — but this cheesecake is so yummy that I have full confidence that you will finish it in one sitting. Those bananas will never get a chance to go brown. 

Banana Pudding Cheesecake Recipe

This no-bake banana cheesecake employs a pastry chef's secret ingredient in order to achieve a firm, sliceable texture. Get ready to go in for second, third, fourth helpings.

Prep time 30 minutes

Cook time 30 minutes

Serves 12

Nutritional Info

Ingredients

  • 1 (14-ounce) can

    sweetened condensed milk

  • 2

    large egg yolks

  • 1 tablespoon

    cornstarch

  • 1 (11-ounce) box

    Nilla wafers

  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick)

    unsalted butter

  • 1 teaspoon

    kosher salt, divided

  • 1 tablespoon

    water

  • 1 tablespoon

    vanilla extract

  • 2 teaspoons

    powdered gelatin

  • 1/2

    medium lemon

  • 3 cups

    cold heavy cream, divided

  • 8 ounces

    full-fat cream cheese

  • 8 ounces

    mascarpone cheese

  • 3

    large ripe bananas, divided

  • 2 tablespoons

    powdered sugar

Instructions

  1. Fit a fine-mesh strainer over a medium heatproof bowl, preferably metal.

  2. Place 1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk, 2 large egg yolks, and 1 tablespoon cornstarch in a small heavy-bottom saucepan and whisk to combine. While whisking constantly, bring to a boil over medium-high heat, occasionally scraping down the sides of the saucepan with a heatproof flexible spatula.

  3. Continue boiling and whisking until thickened to the texture of pudding, about 1 minute more. Scrape the mixture into the strainer and press through the strainer with the flexible spatula, making sure to also scrape the underside of the strainer. Press a sheet of plastic wrap directly onto the surface of the pudding. Refrigerate until at least room temperature, 40 to 60 minutes. Meanwhile, make the crust.

  4. Set aside 10 Nilla wafers from an 11-ounce package for decorating the top of the cheesecake. Place the remaining Nilla wafers (about 3 1/3 cups or 72 cookies) in a food processor fitted with the blade attachment. Process until finely ground, about 20 seconds. Transfer 1/4 cup to a small bowl and reserve for sprinkling.

  5. Melt 1 stick unsalted butter in the microwave or on the stovetop. Add the butter and 1/2 teaspoon of the kosher salt to the remaining crumbs in the food processor. Process until combined, about 10 seconds. Transfer the mixture to a 9-inch springform cake pan. Press the crumbs evenly into the bottom and 1 inch up the sides. Refrigerate or freeze for at least 30 minutes to firm up.

  6. Meanwhile, place 1 tablespoon water and 1 tablespoon vanilla extract in a small microwave-safe bowl and sprinkle 2 teaspoons powdered gelatin over the top. Set aside for at least 5 minutes to fully bloom. Juice 1/2 medium lemon until you have 1 tablespoon. Wipe the food processor bowl clean.

  7. Transfer the cooled pudding to the food processor. Add 2 cups of the cold heavy cream, 8 ounces cream cheese, 8 ounces mascarpone cheese, and the remaining 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt. Process until smooth, about 1 minute.

  8. Microwave the gelatin mixture until the gelatin is melted and the mixture is the consistency of warm corn syrup, about 15 seconds. Turn the food processor on, and immediately pour the gelatin mixture through the feed tube while still warm. Continue blending until smooth and creamy, 1 to 2 minutes.

  9. Transfer half of the batter into the crust and spread it into an even layer with an offset spatula. Peel and thinly slice 2 1/2 large ripe bananas crosswise (about 1/8-inch thick). Arrange the slices evenly on top of the filling in a circular pattern. Brush the lemon juice onto the bananas.

  10. Sprinkle the reserved 1/4 cup cookie crumbs evenly over the bananas. Top with the remaining batter and spread into an even layer. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until set, at least 12 hours and up to 24 hours.

  11. When ready to serve, place the remaining 1 cup cold heavy cream and 2 tablespoons powdered sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer (or large bowl if using an electric hand mixer). Beat with the whisk attachment on medium-high speed until thick and fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer onto the cheesecake and spread into an even layer.

  12. Peel and thinly slice the remaining 1/2 large ripe banana crosswise. Arrange the slices around the top edge of the cheesecake, overlapping and alternating them with the reserved whole Nilla wafers. Remove the sides of the springform pan before slicing.

Recipe Notes

Mascarpone cheese substitute: The same amount of full-fat cream cheese can be substituted for the mascarpone. Use a total of 1 pound cream cheese.

Storage: The cheesecake can be well wrapped and refrigerated for up to 4 days. As it sits for more prolonged periods, the bananas will start to oxidize and get watery.