Pastry chef David Guas first caught our eye with his highly personal, New Orleans-inspired cookbook, DamGoodSweet. Now he's bringing a taste of the Big Easy to Arlington, Virginia, at the new Bayou Bakery, where he excels in dishes both sweet (bacon-caramel popcorn) and savory (chicken-sausage gumbo). But his renditions of long-loved Southern desserts--like bananas Foster--really showcase his genius. Here, Guas reinvents the classic dish as individual banana cheesecakes topped with peanut brittle and rummy caramel sauce. It's one of the best sweets we've tasted this year.
Bananas Foster Cheesecake
Recipe adapted from David Guas, Bayou Bakery, Arlington, VA
Yield: Six 4-ounce cheesecakes
8 ounces cream cheese
1¼ cups banana purée (made from 3 very ripe bananas)
5 grams powdered gelatin (about 1 teaspoon)
2 tablespoons cold water
½ cup heavy whipping cream
¼ cup sour cream
¼ cup sugar
½ vanilla bean, split and scraped
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
Crumbled peanut brittle, for serving
1½ cups sugar
½ cup water
1 cup heavy whipping cream
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons dark rum
1. Make the cheesecakes: In a large, heatproof bowl, combine the cream cheese with the banana purée and place the bowl above a saucepan of simmering water. Heat the mixture, stirring, until the cheese melts, about 6 minutes. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, sprinkle the gelatin over the water and let it bloom for 1 minute.
2. In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, combine the cream with the sour cream, sugar and vanilla seeds. Whip at high speed until medium peaks form, about 3 minutes.
3. Whisk the gelatin into the banana mixture until dissolved and smooth. Remove the bowl from the saucepan and add the salt. Whisk in half of the cream mixture, then, using a rubber spatula, fold in the remaining cream mixture.
4. Divide the batter among six 6-ounce glass cups or highball glasses. Gently tap the glasses to settle the filling. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 3 hours or up to overnight.
5. Make the sauce: In a medium saucepan, combine the sugar with the water and cook over medium-high heat, without stirring, until dark amber, about 8 minutes. Turn off the heat and carefully whisk in the cream. Whisk in the butter, then the rum. Transfer the caramel to a heatproof container, cover and let cool to room temperature, about 3 hours. (Alternatively, refrigerate the caramel for 30 minutes before serving.)
6. To serve, drizzle the cheesecakes with the caramel sauce (save the excess caramel for another use) and sprinkle with crumbled peanut brittle.