I've been tickled pink by all the wonderful comments I got on my Dinner Party post, many of which requested the recipe for the stellar dessert that I served: Oven Roasted Banana Rum Cheesecake with Spiced Pecan Crust & Maple Rum Sauce. As the saying goes, ask and ye shall receive!
The recipe is from one of my absolute favorite cookbooks, Tal Ronnen's The Conscious Cook. Also known as the vegan chef who prepared meals for Oprah's 21 Day Vegan Cleanse, and who catered Ellen's & Portia's wedding, he is truly a superstar vegan chef. And everything that I have made so far from his book has exceeded my already high expectations. But this cheesecake really, well, it really took the cake.
Step 1: Make the oven-roasted bananas:
Preheat the oven to 325. Place 4 large, very ripe, unpeeled bananas on a roasting pan and roast for 15-20 minutes, until bananas are soft and skin turns dark brown. Let bananas cool to room temperature in the pan in their skins. Set aside. Increase oven temp to 400.
Step 2: Make the Spiced Pecan Crust:
Combine 1 cup pecan nut flour*, 1/2 cup spelt flour, 1 Tbsp. firmly packed light brown sugar, 4 Tbsp. partially melted vegan butter, 1/8 tsp. ground cardamom, 1/2 tsp. ground ginger, and a pinch of sea salt in a bowl and stir until well incorporated. Press the mixture into the bottom of a 9-inch springform pan and put in freezer for 5 minutes. Bake at 400 for 8-10 minutes, until crust is a little dry and edges are light golden. Let cool completely on a wire rack.
*To make pecan nut flour, freeze the nuts overnight, then place in a food processor and pulse until finely ground. Freezing the nuts prevents them from turning into nut butter when you process them.
Step 3: Make the filling:
Peel the roasted bananas and remove any obvious strings. Puree bananas in a food processor until very smooth. Add 16 oz. nondairy cream cheese, 3/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar, 3/4 tsp. ground cinnamon, 1/4 cup dark rum, 2 Tbsp. cornstarch, and 1/4 tsp. salt then pulse until smooth, scraping sides of bowl periodically. Do not overprocess or cream cheese will separate and curdle.
Step 4: Bake cheesecake:
Pour the filling into the crust and bake at 400 for 10 minutes. Reduce temperature to 350 and bake another 35-45 minutes, until the top is the color of light brown sugar and center is set. A toothpick inserted in center should come out clean.
Let cheesecake cool to room temperature on a rack for at least 1 hour, then cover with plastic wrap and chill in refrigerator at least 3 hours, preferably overnight.
Step 5: Make maple rum sauce:
In a small saucepan, combine 1 cup maple syrup, 4 Tbsp. vegan butter, and sea salt to taste and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring frequently, until sauce has thickened slightly, about 10 minutes.
Remove from heat and stir in 1 Tbsp. dark rum, stirring carefully, as sauce will bubble up a bit. Let cool for a few minutes then taste and add more salt if necessary. Cool to room temperature, then transfer to a squeeze bottle. If not using immediately, the sauce can be rewarmed by putting the bottle in a pan of hot water off the heat.
To serve: Rewarm the sauce in a pan of hot water. Use an offset spatula or thin knife to loosen edges of cheesecake, then remove sides of the pan and cut cake into slices. Top with toasted pecans and warm sauce.