As many of you know, what we in North America call a chai tea latte is known as masala chai in India. Masala is the spice blend, and chai means tea. How such a redundant and confusing moniker was ever adopted here, who even knows. As such, the title of my cheesecake ought to be Banana Masala Cheesecake or even just Spiced Cheesecake, but I think I’m going to run with the bastardized version for the sake of recognition. Also, I like how it sounds.
I devised this recipe while studying in the Tea Sommelier program with the Tea and Herbal Association of Canada (THAC). This is my spice blend added to The Cake Bible‘s banana cheesecake, which is then cooked sous vide in little mason jars. It’s a light and fluffy custard, more tangy than sweet.
- 2 pkgs of cream cheese
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 tbsp masala spice mix*
- 1 tsp freshly grated ginger
- 3 large eggs
- 3 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 cups sour cream
- 1 cup mashed very ripe bananas
- fresh bananas and whipped cream for serving
Preheat the water bath to 80°C (176° F) .
Mash two very ripe bananas until you have approximately a cup. Add in the lemon juice, vanilla, grated ginger and salt. Smush it all together and set aside.
Put the spice blend and the sugar into the bowl of a stand mixer with the whisk attachment and stir together. Add in the cream cheese and beat until smooth.
Add the eggs one at a time, scraping down the sides after each addition. Beat in sour cream until incorporated, then the mashed banana.
Cast the batter into mason jars—I use a ladle or a serving spoon to make sure I don’t spill on the edges of the jar. If you do, just wipe with a clean cloth—you want a good seal. Fill until just below the screw top. Put the lids on and turn them until fingertip tight.**
Using tongs, lower the jars into the water, stacking them up if need be. Cook for 90 minutes, then remove and let cool to room temperature before putting them in the fridge. Chill for 6 hours or preferably overnight. They’ll last for two weeks in this state.
To serve, open the jars, top with slices of banana, dollops of whipped cream and a pinch of masala spice to top it off. If you like crunch, add toasted ground pistachio or cashews, or crushed cookies. Pair with masala chai made with the same spice mix, or contrast the sweetness with a fortifying Assam or Ceylon black tea.
- If you don’t have a pre-made spice blend, and you don’t want to make the once I’ve suggested in this post, then I recommend ½ tsp ground cardamon, ¼ tsp cinnamon, and ¼ tsp white or black pepper, and a pinch of ground cloves. If you don’t use the fresh ground ginger, use ½ tsp ground.
- “Finger-tip” tight means that you screw the lid firmly, but it’s possible to open it just using your finger tips.
- The size of the jars is not a big concern. You can use 4, 6, or 8 oz.
- If you don’t have a sous vide machine, you can absolutely make this in a cheesecake or springform pan in a water bath. Bake the cake in 350 degree oven for 45 minutes. Turn off the oven without opening the door and let the cake cool for 1 hour. Remove it to a rack and cool to room temperature (about 1 hour). Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.