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The Blue Hippo Upside Down Macadamia Nut Crusted Cheesecake

Source: Chef Chad Martin, The Blue Hippo, Norfolk, Virginia

Macadamia Nut Graham Cracker Crust
1 cup graham cracker crumbs
1/2 cup macadamia nuts, unsalted if possible
1/4 cup butter, melted

Cheesecake
1 1/4 pounds cream cheese, softened
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
3 large eggs
1 egg yolk

Banana Flamb?
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
3/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Pinch of ground nutmeg
4 ripe bananas, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch slices
1/4 cup banana liqueur
1/2 cup spiced rum
1/4 cup heavy cream or half-and-half

Crust: In a zip-type bag or food processor, crush the macadamia nuts into small pieces.

In a mixing bowl, combine the crumbs and the nuts. Add melted butter a little at a time until, with a pinch of the fingers, the crust holds together by itself. Take 1/3 of the crust and place in 4 ramekins. Press down on the crust to pack lightly.

Cheesecake: Place cream cheese, sugar and flour in a mixing bowl. Start mixing slowly until ingredients are incorporated. Speed up the mixer to about medium high; add the lemon juice and vanilla extract. Add one egg at a time until they are fully incorporated, scraping the sides after each egg.

Next, place 3/4 cup of the batter in each ramekin. Place the cheesecakes in a water bath (pan that hold the ramekins with hot water filled 1/2 way up the sides). Place in a preheated 250 degree F oven for about 45-minutes to one hour, until a wooden skewer comes clean.

Turn oven up to 500 degrees F and bake for 5 to 7 minutes or until golden brown. Turn oven off, open the door and let cool. When the cheesecakes are cool enough to handle with your hands, invert them and tap on the countertop to loosen.

Banana Flamb?: Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the brown sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg. Cook, stirring until the sugar dissolves, about 2 minutes. Add the bananas and banana liqueur and cook on both sides until he bananas start to brown, about 3 minutes. Carefully add the rum and shake the pan back and forth to warm the rum and flame the pan (or, off the heat, carefully ignite the pan with a match). Shake the pan back and forth, basting the bananas, until the flame dies. Finish with the heavy cream or half-and-half.

Assembly: Place the cheesecake on a plate. With tongs, arrange the banana slices carefully around the top of the cheesecake. Pour the residual sauce around or on top of the cheesecake. Garnish with cocoa powder and edible flowers (if available).



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