Exceeding expectations is my cliched, but honest, motivation in life. I don’t like to rise to the occasion, I like to stop the show entirely. My (extremely un-Zen) mantra goes something like “do more! Faster! Better! In really tall shoes!” While my internal chant sounds fairly cohesive (save the shoe bit), the externalization of the whole “above and beyond” thing isn’t quite so positive. I can be frantic, I sleep very little, and I get frustrated easily when I don’t feel like my contributions are noticed. This applies to work, school, and of course the kitchen (or did you think this was a dear-diary post. It’s not. I’m going somewhere with this. Stay with me).
My recipe today is about the great things that happen when I slow down and allow shortcuts into my life without demonizing them as the lazy way out. This shortcut was using packaged ingredients: banana pudding from a box and Nilla wafers. These ingredients are definitely not Sparkle Kitchen staples, but they had been lingering on the shelf for a bit when I remembered them. BF, bless him, has the tastebuds of a child, but is one of the more open-minded diners I’ve shared a meal with, sampling everything from ceviche to mutton without reservation (or without vocalizing reservation, I should say).
He really wanted banana pudding, and the poor guy knew that if he told me as much, I’d spend strange hours (I’m writing this post at 3:34 am while roasting parsnips for a recipe I’m planning. No joke. Weird smell to wake up to, by the way) pouring over banana pudding recipes before buying the ingredients, letting the bananas ripen, and making my first attempt at a home-made pudding for him. But the thing is, he just wanted a bowl of pudding. And if I did go to all of the effort to make said pudding (roast the bananas or poach them? Infuse with chai or vanilla rum?), the best possible pudding would be the one that tasted most like the one he had in mind. This would lead to the following dialogue:
Me, pudding remnants on face/outfit, powdered sugar in my hair, bloodshot eyes from midnight baking, hovering approximately 4 inches away from him while he has his first bite. Staring deep into his soul and making him pretty uncomfortable: “WELL WHAT DO YOU THINK???”
Him: “Oh my gosh, this is so good! This tastes just like the one from the box!”
Me, subtle eye twitch. “What?” I’ll let him
dig his own grave finish the thought.
Him: “This is delicious, I love it, it’s like the stuff from the store!”
Me, getting flushed. “The store. It tastes like the one from the store.” At this point, I either do the adult thing (which is walk away in a huff and provide single-word answers to the next ten or so questions he asks gently to try to figure out what in the world is wrong. I’ll blame my volatile mood on the passing of either Michael Jackson or Margaret Thatcher) or the childlike thing (which is to dramatically grab the spoon from his confused hands and throw the pudding away and cry).
And I could go on, but the point is that one of us (ahem) would get extremely disappointed at a genuine compliment given by the other. Hilarity wouldn’t ensue. Instead, I outsourced the pudding and Nilla wafer fundamendals to just give the man what he wants. I used the store-bought ingredients to make a more grown-up version of one of his favorites and he truly loved it.
Banana Cream Pudding Cheesecake with a Coconut-Nilla Wafer Crust
You will need:
Coconut-Nilla Wafer Crust
- 1 2/3 cups Nilla wafers (or graham cracker crumbs), crushed
- 1 cup sweetened coconut flakes
- 1/3 cup butter, softened
Banana Cream Pudding Cheesecake
- 2 x 8 ounce packages cream cheese, room temperature
- 2 large eggs
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- 1 tsp. lemon extract
- 1/2 tsp. sea salt
- 1 cup white chocolate chips
- 3 cups banana cream pudding (prepared according to package, or from scratch, if you’re an over-achiever and didn’t read anything I posted above)
- Preheat oven to 350.
- Mix together crushed Nilla wafers (or graham cracker crumbs), coconut flakes, and butter in a bowl until texture is consistent and press into the bottom of a springform pan or (lined) muffin tin. Set aside.
- In a large bowl, combine cream cheese, eggs, extracts, flour and salt. Mix well until cream cheese is “fluffy” in texture, about three-five minutes.
- Stir in banana cream pudding and white chocolate chips.
- Pour into prepared crust and bake for 45 minutes (large springform pan) or 25 minutes (individual cupcake servings).
- Turn off heat when cheesecake is cooked and let “rest” for one hour before removing from oven.
- Serve chilled, with white chocolate drizzle, if cheesecake isn’t enough decadent for you.
I extended the cheesecake leftovers by adding them to two other recipes.
- I actually broke up about three slices and mixed into a simple sweetened condensed milk ice cream recipe. Banana cheesecake ice cream never made the day worse for anyone, I’m fairly sure.
- My final recommendation is to avoid long, sleepless nights so that your dog doesn’t look at you with one eye open like she really hates you. That’s no fun. If you can’t avoid such nights, I almost insist that you take a photo of said dog making said face (with the flash on) just so you have company: