Finding a fantastic dessert recipe brings me so. much. joy. And there's no exception with these Banana Pudding Cheesecake Bars. There's a giddy excitement in making and trying something new and then to absolutely love it just adds to the experience as a lover of food. It's these moments as to why I love baking, why I love sharing food, and writing about a recipe that leaves me feeling not only satisfied in my belly but inspired in my soul.
Let's talk about Banana Pudding Cheesecake Bars
Everything I said above pretty much describes my experience with trying these Banana Pudding Cheesecake Bars. The culinary genius and creator of this recipe is Quin over at Butter Be Ready. I was fortunate enough to find her on instagram a few months ago thanks to my foodie friends. As with all new finds I did a deep dive into her blog and found these cheesecake bars and was instantly struck with interest. Not only did I enjoy the process of putting these bars together but it was love at first bite. The graham cracker crust is next level. The creamy sweetness of the cream cheese filling is unlike any other and I love the easy addition of accessible, tasty garnishes like instant banana pudding and crushed vanilla wafers.
Tips for Recipe Success
A lot of times you'll see recipes call for room temperature ingredients, or specific time requirements for ingredients to set, or firm up. This is truly the case with this recipe. Some key points to follow for recipe success include:
- Make sure to use room temperature cream cheese. I usually do this by taking the blocks of cream cheese out of the fridge and leave them on the kitchen counter to sit at room temperature for about an hour BEFORE I start to make the recipe.
- Let this recipe set over night in the fridge. Giving this recipe 12+ hours to set up in the fridge will make a big difference in the end result. The flavors will be delicious, the cream cheese filling will be chilled and firm. Trust me, it's worth the wait.
- You'll see that brown sugar is used in this recipe. I highly like recommend that you use brown sugar (dark brown if you can) but DO NOT substitute white sugar. Especially in this recipe, the presence of brown sugar in the crust and the filling makes it that much more delicious.
Banana Pudding Cheesecake Bars
- 8 x 8 baking dish
- stand mixer or electric hand mixer
For the Crust
- 2 cups graham cracker crumbs
- ¼ cup light brown sugar firmly packed
- ½ tsp ground cinnamon
- ½ cup unsalted butter melted
For the Filling
- 3 8oz blocks of cream cheese softened to room temperature
- ¾ cup light brown sugar firmly packed
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
For the Banana Pudding Topping
- 1 3.4 oz package of banana instant pudding, plus milk needed according to package instructions use instant, not cook & serve
- vanilla wafer cookies for garnish
Make the Crust
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly spray an 8x8 inch baking dish with non stick baking spray and line with parchment paper. Set aside.
- In a large mixing bowl combine the graham cracker crumbs, brown sugar, cinnamon and butter; mix together to combine and the crumbs are fully coated with butter. Pour the crumb mixture into the baking dish and firmly pack it together to form a crust along the bottom of the pan. Bake in the oven for 10 minutes.
Make the Filling & Banana Pudding
- In a separate, large mixing bowl combine the cream cheese and brown sugar together and beat of medium speed for 2 to 3 minutes using a handheld mixer. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, add in the heavy cream and vanilla extract and continue to mix the ingredients together until thoroughly combined. Filling should be smooth without any lumps. Pour the cream cheese filling on top of the graham cracker crust and smooth it out with an off set spatula to create a smooth, even layer. Cover with plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator over night to firm up and set.
- Make the instant pudding in a mixing bowl according to package instructions. Cover with plastic wrap and store in the refridgerator to set.
Assemble the Cheesecake Bars
- When ready to serve, cut cheesecake into squares and top with banana pudding. Garnish with crushed vanilla wafers and fresh banana slices if desired. Cheesecake stays fresh in the refrigerator for about 3 days.