Slow cooker used for downhome favorites

Book: “The Southern Slow Cooker: Big-flavor, Low-fuss Recipes for Comfort Food Classics”; 136 pages, $19.99, by Kendra Bailey Morris. Published by Ten Speed Press, 2013.

What you get: More than 60 recipes for stews, chilis, soups, meats, vegetables, sides and desserts, along with cooking tips. We want to try the Buffalo Stout Beer Chili (Page 31), Herbed Turkey with Cornbread Dressing (P. 72), Kale with Ham Hocks (P. 78) and Peach Mango Jam (P. 121).

In her own words: “This is the good stuff, the kind of cooking that’s built from family tradition and treasured.”

What we made:

Chocolate-banana Cheesecake in Jars (Page 112)

1 cup chocolate wafer crumbs

1 tablespoon sugar

3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

16 ounces cream cheese, softened

2 eggs

1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 large banana, cut into this slices, plus additional sliced bananas for garnish

Whipped cream, for garnish

Shaved dark chocolate, for garnish

In a small bowl, mix together the crushed chocolate wafers, sugar and melted butter. Partially fill the six half-pint canning jars with about 3 tablespoons of this mixture, being sure to distribute it evenly. Set aside any leftover chocolate crust mixture.

In a large mixing bowl, using a hand mixer, beat the cream cheese until fluffy. Add the eggs, one by one, still beating the mixture. Pour in the condensed milk and the vanilla and continue to beat.

Fill each jar with about 1 ½ to 2 inches of the cream cheese mixture. Add an even layer of banana slices along with some of the reserved chocolate crust. Finally fill each jar with more cheesecake mixture, leaving about an inch of headspace. Lay a kitchen towel on the bottom of the slow cooker to protect the ceramic surface and place the uncovered jars in the slow cooker insert, making sure they are not touching each other or the sides of the cooker.

Fill a tea kettle with water and heat to just boiling. Pour just enough water into the slow cooker to come halfway up the glass jars. Cover the top of the slow cooker with several thick sheets of paper towels to absorb additional moisture. Cover the slow cooker and cook on high for 1 to 2 hours, until the cheesecakes begin to pull away from the sides of the jars. Using a pair of tongs, carefully transfer the jars (they will be very hot) to a wire rack. Cool completely. Screw on the lids and place the cheesecakes in the fridge until well chilled, at least 4 hours, but preferably overnight.

Just before serving, top each jar of cake with additional sliced bananas, a dollop of whipped cream and shaved chocolate. Serve the cakes straight from the jars with spoons.

Assessment: If you have a stash of little canning jars, here’s your opportunity to use them to make this fun and delicious dessert. We love how they turned out. They are as good as any cheesecake we’ve ever made, and the jars make them easily transportable. They fit nicely in a lunch bag or would be great to take along on a picnic.

Instead of using store-bought chocolate wafers for the crust, we crumbled homemade chocolate cookies, but any sort of cookie will do. Also, don’t worry if the cheesecakes rise to the tops of the jars – after you remove them, they collapse a bit when cooling.

Watch the video: We show you how to make this recipe on

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