Banana Chocolate Crumb Cheesecake

Happy National Cheesecake Day on July 30th! I decided to mark the occasion by making one of my favorite cheesecakes – Banana Chocolate Crumb Cheesecake!

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 Banana Cheesecake

This is a soft, not-too-sweet, delicately flavored banana cheesecake with a dark chocolate cookie crumb “crust”. The custard recipe comes from Rose Levy Beranbaum’s banana variation of her Cordon Rose Cheesecake in The Cake Bible – a truly excellent cookbook.

Make 1 day ahead

Ingredients (at room temperature)

1 lb. (2 8-oz. pkgs.) cream cheese

1 c. granulated white sugar

1 1/2 t. vanilla extract

1/4 t. salt

2 c. sour cream

2 large, very ripe bananas, enough to make 1 c. mashed

3 T. fresh lemon juice, strained

1 1/4 – 1 1/2 c crushed dark chocolate wafer cookies  (use gluten-free cookies for a gluten-free cheesecake)

Prepare Pan

1. Butter the inside of an 8″ springform pan.  Cut a circle of parchment paper to fit the inside of the pan – just smaller than 8″ in diameter. Butter the paper and then place it in pan.

2. Wrap the outside of the pan with a double layer of heavy-duty aluminum foil to prevent seepage from the water bath.

3. Have ready a larger baking pan – I use a 9″-square brownie pan – to use as a water bath for baking the cheesecake.

Directions for Making Cheesecake Custard

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

2. Using a mixer or large food processor, beat together cream cheese and sugar until perfectly smooth. Scrape bowl. Beat in vanilla and salt, then sour cream. Scrape bowl.  Mash bananas together with lemon juice. Beat bananas into custard. Scrape bowl.

3. Pour custard into prepared springform pan. Place pan in larger baking pan. Pour in 1″ of very hot water. Bake cheesecake for 45 minutes. Turn oven off, without opening the door, and leave cheesecake in oven for one hour.  Remove cheesecake from oven and from water bath.  Remove foil from pan.  Plan pan on a cooling rack and let cheesecake continue cooling at room temperature for one more hour. Cover  pan with plastic wrap. Chill cheesecake in refrigerator overnight.

Serving

1. The next day, wipe outside of cheesecake pan with a hot, damp towel. Run a thin spatula around the inside of the pan. Release the clasp on the springform pan and remove the outside of pan.  If there is condensation on the cheesecake, lightly pat it dry with a paper towel. Invert cheesecake onto a flat plate or a small cutting board covered with plastic wrap.  Remove parchment paper.

2. Pat cookie crumbs onto bottom and sides of cheesecake. Re-invert onto serving plate. Cover with plastic wrap and chill until serving. Garnish and serve.

Suggested Garnishes

• Whipped cream, chocolate shavings and banana and/or strawberry slices.

• Whipped cream and hot fudge.

• Whipped cream and dark cherries.

• For Banana Split Cheesecake, serve with whipped cream, banana slices, strawberry slices, pineapple chunks, chopped walnuts, chocolate sauce, and melted strawberry jam.

Enjoy! Happy National Cheesecake Day!

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Missing Miss Abbey

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This is a photo that I took a few years ago of Abbey (right) and our then new puppy Penny. This picture makes me smile because I had so very much fun watching the two of them play that day – as I did many, many subsequent days.

It also makes me laugh because it seemed as though Abbey was coaching her “baby sister” on just how much mischief a pup is allowed to get into without getting into trouble.  When she herself was a babe, Abbey was very good at inventing games, such as nibbling the buttons off my sweaters – which would be followed by her giving me a thoroughly happy puppy grin and a nub wag, and by her inviting her older sisters, Lucy and Ginger, to play.

Abbey loved all of her sisters, including ol’ Peachy who came along a few years after Penny. But Abbey and Penny were best buds and their antics were consistently amusing. They played lots of chase and tug of war and vied for the most snacks, the most belly rubs and the best position on the sofa. Abbey always got the most snacks, but I think that they were pretty equal on the belly rubs … and the best position on the sofa was that closest to my head.

Being next to me on the sofa wasn’t enough. Miss Abbey was a Mama’s-girl. She always followed me around the house, looking up into my face, and it always made me happy to see her right there by my side.

We had to say goodbye to Abbey recently, after she was stricken with an aggressive form of cancer. Abbey was loving, sweet and gentle, playful and joyful … and too young for us to have to say goodbye to her. And we miss her dearly.

 

A Man and His Father’s Car

Every now and then, we have guests stay with us who have a special story that I would like to share. This week, we had some guests from New Mexico stay with us who were picking up a car that was having some work done on it in Kansas City.

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That car was the gentleman’s father’s 1950 Ford Woody Wagon. Our guest has spent the last six years having it restored.

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The man lived in Kansas when he inherited the automobile and started having work done on it. The final stage of the restoration was having the interior reupholstered in KC.

The gentleman and his wife retired to New Mexico, where his family lived when his father bought the car new.

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It is truly a beauty. The couple should have great road trips in the Woody!

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Have a lovely weekend!

Persian Lime Pie

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It seems as though every lime pie is named “Key Lime Pie”, and yet fresh Key limes can be much more difficult to find than fresh Persian limes. Since the smaller, yellowish Key limes are considerably tarter than the larger, dark green Persian limes, the two varieties are not perfectly interchangeable. So, I decided to create a pie recipe based on Persian limes. This delicious, citrusy, cheesecake-like pie is wonderful for entertaining because it can be made up to a week ahead of time. Enjoy!

Persian Lime Pie

serves 12

 

Crust

1 1/2 c. graham cracker crumbs

1/3 c. granulated white sugar

1/4 t. salt

10 T. unsalted butter, melted

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Whisk together crumbs, sugar and salt. Stir in melted butter. Press crumb mixture into a 9” pie plate.
  3. Place pie plate on a baking sheet and bake crust for 8 minutes. (Make filling while crust is baking.) Remove crust from oven.

 

Filling

8 oz. low-fat cream cheese

2 14-oz. cans sweetened condensed milk

3/4 c. fresh squeezed Persian lime juice

1 1/2 t. lime extract (optional, recipe at bottom of page)

  1. In a large bowl, beat cream cheese on medium-high speed until perfectly smooth. Scrape down bowl. Beat in sweetened condensed milk until perfectly smooth. Scrape down bowl. On low speed, beat in lime juice until perfectly incorporated. Again, scrape down bowl.
  2. Taste filling. If desired, beat in lime extract.
  3. Gently pour filling into pie crust and then bake (on baking sheet) for 15 minutes. (Filling should be firm/set, but not browned.)
  4. Remove pie from oven. Cool at room temperature for about 40 minutes.  Chill for two hours before serving. (Cover pie with plastic wrap if not serving within a few hours.)

 

Topping*

3/4 c. heavy cream

2 1/4 c. granulated sugar

1 t. lime, lemon or orange extract

 

  1. Combine ingredients in a deep bowl. Whip on high speed until cream holds peaks.
  2. Scoop into a pastry bag fitted with a large tip to garnish pie slices, or dollop cream onto slices, right before serving.

* Canned whipped cream can be substituted.

 

Garnishes

fresh grated Persian lime zest

12 thin slices of Persian limes

fresh blueberries, blackberries or raspberries (optional)

edible flowers (optional)

 

Sprinkle slices of pie with fresh grated lime zest. Place a twisted slice of lime on each piece of pie. Decorate pie servings with berries and or flowers, if desired. Serve immediately.

 

Lime Extract

make several days ahead of time

1/4 c. vodka

2 t. fresh grated Persian lime zest (green rind only, no white pith)

1 t. granulated white sugar

  1. Combine ingredients in a small glass jar. Seal. Shake well to dissolve sugar.
  2. Store extract in cool dark place. (I use the freezer.) Shake extract well after one day.
  3. The following day, shake extract again. Then strain out lime zest, pressing zest through a sieve. Pour extract back into glass jar and cap tightly.

Remembering Ginger

One of our guests at the Bed & Breakfast once declared me to be “a collector of both Boston Terriers and their likenesses” –  a description which still makes me chuckle. My husband and I have had six much-loved Bostons over the years – and we do indeed have quite a few pieces of Boston Terrier memorabilia, many of them kindly given to us by guests fond of our dogs.

Bill and I have some good friends who also are Boston Terrier parents. Knowing that I am a gardener, these friends have very thoughtfully given me flowers to plant as living memorials to several of our canine children who have passed over the years. One of theses is a  daylily named “Punk” given in memory of Ginger.  (“Punk” was one of several affectionate nicknames that we had for Gingie because she was always ready to turn anything into a game.)

Ginger passed away two years ago at seventeen years of age. She brought us tremendous happiness in her lifetime. This is the first time that Punk has bloomed. So I wanted to share  a remembrance of Ginger and photos of her tribute flower which I tend with affection as I remember our punky Ging.

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Have a lovely weekend!

Blueberry Mint Iced Tea

June is National Iced Tea Month … perfect timing for warm weather refreshment! Flavored iced teas are easy to make and a are a great way to add personal flair to this summertime beverage for entertaining.

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Blueberry Mint Iced Tea

8 c. cold water

6 bags of good black tea (decaf. ok)

3/4 c. loosely packed fresh mint leaves, washed

3/4 c. raw sugar

7 cups ice cubes

3 c. fresh blueberries (or mixture of blueberries and blackberries), washed and stemmed

Frozen blueberries and ice cubes for serving

Lemon slices for serving

Fresh mint for garnish

 

Directions

1. Bring water to boil in a 4-quart pot. Add tea bags, mint leaves and sugar. Cover pot and remove from heat. Allow to steep for 20 minutes. Stir to make sure that sugar is completely dissolved.

2. Place 7 c. ice cubes into a 1-gallon pitcher. Strain tea into pitcher.

3. Place berries in a food processor and pulse until puréed. Press puree through sieve into tea. Stir until ice is completely dissolved and  purée is incorporated into the tea.

4. To serve, fill glasses with ice cubes, frozen blueberries and lemon slices. Pour tea over ice. Garnish with mint.

Enjoy!

More iced tea recipes …

Black Tea “Sangria recipe.

Iced Minted Orange Juice recipe.

Mint Simple Syrup recipe for adding to iced tea.

Beautiful After The Rain

We had a brief downpour yesterday morning and I just couldn’t resist getting some garden photos as soon as the rain stopped. This is one of my favorites. It is of a pale pink lily, stained by the pollen splattered on its petals.

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Have a beautiful weekend!