banana cheesecake with caramel-rum sauce

cheesecake filling:
1 1/2 lb. (24 oz) cream cheese softened
¾ cup white sugar
3 eggs
4 mashed bananas, really ripe!
2 ts. good quality vanilla
1 ts. fresh lemon juice for the bananas

crust ingredients:
2 cups graham cracker crumbs
3 TB dark brown sugar
1 stick unsalted butter, melted, cooled a bit
(I put a pinch of salt in the crust)

for the crust:
preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter the bottom and sides of a 9-inch springform pan. 
To make the crust, mix the graham cracker crumbs, brown sugar, salt and butter in a bowl until well combined. Firmly pat the crust into the bottom of the prepared pan. Use a glass to press in the edges—it really helps. I like to make some of the crust go up the sides, up to you of course.  Then bake in the preheated oven about 10 minutes or until "almost" golden brown. 

for the cheesecake:
Preheat the oven to 320˚F. (I found this was the right temp for me. I’ve heard of turning oven to 350 degrees and baking for 5 minutes then down to 310 for remaining 50-55 minutes. You really have to find what works best for you and your oven temps).

Mash ripes bananas well and sprinkle just a little bit of lemon juice, not too much about 1 ts, set aside.
In a mixing bowl or mixer, combine cream cheese and sugar; beat until light and fluffy.  Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Then add in the bananas and vanilla extract; mix well.
Pour into the crust. Bake for 1 hour. Or until the middle is not jiggly anymore.
Let cool in the oven for 1 – 2 hours. Do not open the oven door until cool. You must chill this in the fridge for at least 2-3 hours before serving.  That amount of time was perfect for me.  

caramel-rum sauce

1 cup sugar
6 TB unsalted butter, room temp
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream, room temp (important!)
pinch of salt, optional
a splash of rum or dark rum, optional (room temp)

Cook notes: Please use a thick, sturdy pot for making caramel as you want even heat distribution and don't want your sugar to burn.  And it is best to use a pan with high sides as the caramel mixture will bubble up. Please make sure your heavy cream is room temp and not cold.  The cold will make the caramel not set up right.

Heat sugar on medium to medium-high heat in a heavy-bottomed saucepan. As the sugar begins to color and melt a bit, go ahead and stir it with spatula or wooden spoon. You want the sugar to come to a boil.  Once it started boiling I stopped stirring.
Once all the sugar has melted and you have a dark amber color, this is the time to add the butter.  Stir until butter melted, take off the heat, then add in the the heavy cream, very slowly.  It will make a lot of noise and bubble up.  Once added whisk/stir a lot! Keep stirring until smooth, add in your splash or two of dark rum (optional) and this is when you add in a tiny pinch of salt (optional).  Keep stirring.  Once smooth, let the sauce sit in pan for a while.  If using straight away go ahead and do so, if storing let it cool a bit more before storing in glass jar.  Make sure it's completely cool before placing in glass jar and storing in fridge.