Hummingbird Cheesecakes

I bought apple bananas a week ago, and the few that I have leftover are now super ripe and starting to brown. While looking up cake and bread recipes to remedy my banana-surplus situation, I found out about Hummingbird Cake. I must confess: I had never even heard of this cake before, let alone tried it.

Hummingbird Cake apparently originated in the Caribbean, but flourished in the South. (A recipe in a 1978 issue of Southern Living Magazine gets most of the credit.) Pineapple, bananas, spices, and pecans are all packed into this tasty cake, which then gets covered in cream cheese frosting...similar to its layer-cake cousins Red Velvet and Carrot, but with a bit of a tropical flare! 

Now, when I hear the word "hummingbird", I immediately think of tiny, brightly colored birds gracefully flying from flower to flower and feeding on the blossoms' sweet nectar...Ahh, happy thoughts...So, when I first read the words "hummingbird cake", I had grand visions of a garden tea party and dainty finger foods. Seriously. This dessert just screamed at me, "SPRINGTIME!" With all of the Easter family gatherings coming up, it made perfect sense to fit it right into the dessert rotation. Here's how to make my twist on Hummingbird Cake: miniature Hummingbird Cheesecakes!

To make the cake batter, you can follow Southern Living's recipe like I did. Since it was my first time making this, I figured that I couldn't go wrong with The Original.

First, you'll need all purpose flour, baking soda, salt, sugar, eggs, vegetable or canola oil, and vanilla extract. (You deserve a high five if you recognize my mixing bowl as a Town & Country Nesting Bowl from the 70's, a gift from my mom. Vintage cake, vintage bowl!)

Whisk together the dry ingredients and ground cinnamon in a large mixing bowl. Adding the ground cinnamon now ensures even distribution of the random clumps in the batter!

Pineapple and bananas are to Hummingbird Cake as carrots are to Carrot Cake. They provide flavor, texture, and moisture. While most recipes called for canned crushed pineapple, I decided to use fresh slices instead, pureed just enough so that they resembled crushed bits. And, as I mentioned before, I had apple bananas on hand already.

To complete the cake batter, add the fruit, eggs, oil, and vanilla extract to the dry ingredients. Stir to combine, but don't over-mix. Then, stir in finely chopped pecans.

To make the cheesecake batter, beat room temperature cream cheese with a hand-mixer until smooth. Add sugar, then beat on medium speed for 3 minutes.

Once the mixture is smooth and fluffy, decrease the mixing speed to low and add the eggs one at a time. Add the sour cream, fresh lemon juice, salt, and vanilla extract, then increase the speed to medium and beat for another 3 minutes.

Next, line mini-muffin pans with paper baking cups. Pour 1 teaspoon of Hummingbird Cake batter into the bottom of each baking cup. Top off with 2 teaspoons of cheesecake batter. (I went throught a couple of batches before finally getting this ratio right! Small cookie scoops really help to make consistent cheesecakes.)

Before baking, place a shallow pan filled with a couple of inches of hot water on the bottom rack of the oven. This helps to keep the cheesecake from drying out and over-browning. Then, bake the mini cheesecakes at 350 degrees for 15 minutes.

After removing the pan from the oven, let the cheesecakes cool in the pan for 5 more minutes. Transfer to a cooling rack and cool completely (at least 1 hour).

Ooor, if you're too impatient like me... Throw one in the refrigerator for a few minutes, then sample away! Nom nom nom.

What I love about these Hummingbird Cakes is that there's no need to frost them! If you're cooking for a crowd, it's always a plus when there's less work to do. Instead of cream cheese frosting, a layer of rich cheesecake is already baked right on top of the fruity, spiced cake.

The size makes them perfect for dessert bars/buffets or even for wrapping up as favors! I made mini cheesecakes once when I hosted my sister's baby shower, and they were all gone by the end of the afternoon. It's so easy for guests to walk up, grab a couple, and pop them in their mouths. They'll just keep coming back for more and more and more. (Good thing this recipe makes 5 dozen...)

Need a new idea for an adorable party dessert? Bake up a batch of Hummingbird Cheesecakes!

Hummingbird Cheesecakes (makes 5 dozen mini cheesecakes)

Print Recipe

Hummingbird Cake:
1 1/2 cups All Purpose Flour
1/2 tsp Baking Soda
1/2 tsp Fine Sea Salt
1 cup White Granulated Sugar
1/2 tsp Ground Cinnamon
2 large Eggs, beaten
1/2 cup Canola or Vegetable Oil
3/4 tsp Pure Vanilla Extract
1/2 cup Pureed Pineapple
1/2 cup Finely Chopped Nuts (Pecans, Pine Nuts, or Walnuts)
1/2 cup Pureed Bananas (*Very ripe)
8 oz. Cream Cheese, room temperature
1/2 cup White Granulated Sugar
3 large Eggs
1/2 cup Sour Cream
1 tbsp Fresh Lemon Juice
1/2 tsp Pure Vanilla Extract
1/4 tsp Fine Sea Salt
  1. Place a shallow roasting pan or baking dish in the center of the oven's bottom rack, and pour enough boiling hot water into the pan or dish to come 2 inches up the sides. (This keeps the cheesecake from drying out or over-browning.) Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. To make the Hummingbird Cake batter, combine the flour, baking soda, salt, sugar, and cinnamon in a mixing bowl. Whisk together to evenly combine the dry ingredients. Then, add the eggs and oil. Stir until the mixture is moistened, but do not over-beat. Finally, add the vanilla, pineapple, chopped nuts, and bananas. Stir to combine.
  3. To make the cheesecake batter, place the cream cheese in a bowl, and use a hand-mixer to beat until smooth. Add the sugar, then beat on medium speed for 3 minutes. Turn the speed to low, and add the eggs one at a time. Next, add the sour cream, lemon juice, vanilla extract, and salt, then increase the speed to medium. Blend for another 3 minutes.
  4. Line a mini-muffin pan with paper baking cups. In the bottom of each cup, pour 1 teaspoon of Hummingbird Cake batter. Top with 2 teaspoons of cheesecake batter. Do not swirl.
  5. Bake the cheesecakes at 350 degrees for 15 minutes. Remove from the oven, and cool in the pan for 5 more minutes. Then, transfer the cheesecakes to a cooling rack.
  6. Allow the cheesecakes to cool completely, then garnish with more chopped nuts, crushed pineapple, or diced bananas. Serve, and enjoy!