Cheesecake used to intimidate me. So many baking rules—and so many cheesecake flavors to choose from! I had a few ripe bananas sitting on my kitchen counter and instead of making the usual banana bread, I decided to try something new and go beyond my comfort zone.
The result is this incredibly decadent, light and airy cheesecake. It’s super fancy-looking with its decorative design of dulce de leche, but don’t let that intimidate you—it’s actually really easy to make!
For ingredient substitutions, please see the detailed chart at Gluten-Free 101.
½ cup homemade (page 209 in Silvana's Gluten-Free and Dairy-Free Kitchen) dairy-free or store-bought dulce de leche
Make the crust: Preheat the oven to 350º. In a small bowl, combine the cookie crumbs, brown sugar, salt and melted shortening or butter. Grease a 9-inch springform pan and press the crumb mixture onto the bottom and up the sides. Bake until golden, about 7 minutes; let cool completely. Wrap the pan with foil.
Make the filling: Preheat the broiler to high. Slice the bananas with skins on in half lengthwise and place on a foil-lined baking sheet. Sprinkle generously with sugar and broil until bubbly and caramelized, about 3 minutes; let cool completely. Remove the bananas from their skins and chop coarsely.
In a medium bowl and using an electric hand mixer, combine the cream cheese, eggs, flour and vanilla until smooth. Fold in the cooled banana. Top the crust with the filling.
Place the dulce de leche in a resealable plastic bag and snip ¼ inch off a corner; squeeze parallel lines onto the filling and using a knife, draw perpendicular lines alternating directions to create a swirl pattern. Set the springform pan in a roasting pan and add enough hot water to reach halfway up the sides of the pan. Bake for 45 minutes, then turn off the heat and let the cheesecake cool in the oven with the door closed for 1 hour. Remove the cheesecake from the roasting pan and let cool on a wire rack for 1 hour before refrigerating for at least 4 hours and up to overnight.