Everyone I know is a fan of banana splits. Literally everyone, no matter how picky an eater they are. (Editor’s note: Hear that, Ree? Hmm?) And I’ve sort-of found that banana splits have magic properties. Take someone who’s having a bad day, put a banana split in front of them, and watch their face change. Yup, I’d call that magic. When I saw Tasty Kitchen member and fellow TK Blog contributor Amber’s recipe for Banana Split Cake Cups, I knew it wouldn’t be long before they happened in my house.
One of the great things about this recipe is that you can either make it in a 9- by 13-inch baking dish or in individual Mason jars. The Mason jars are not only completely adorable, but also perfect for portion control; however, the 9 by 13-inch dish also has its advantages. For starters, it’s perfect for a birthday cake-like treat, which made it very timely for me since it was recently my dad’s birthday and we needed a cake! Also, making this dessert in a larger dish made it easier for me to show you all the layers.
But I couldn’t resist, I made one of these treats in a (half-pint-sized) glass jar. Hey, the cook needs to sample her work, right?
Let’s get started!
For this dessert you’ll need: butter, graham cracker crumbs, cream cheese, powdered sugar, bananas, crushed pineapple, pecans or walnuts (I used walnuts), strawberries, whipping cream, and maraschino cherries.
First things first, start with the crust. Melt 1 stick of butter (on the stovetop or in the microwave), add the graham cracker crumbs, and stir to combine.
Press the crumbs evenly into the bottom of a 9 by 13-inch baking dish …
Or press them into the bottom of individual Mason jars. I found that the easiest way to press the crumbs into small jars was to use the flat end of a pestle.
Bake the crust for 7 to 10 minutes at 350ºF, let it cool a bit, and then let it chill in the freezer for about 10 minutes.
Beat together the cream cheese, 1/4 cup butter, and the powdered sugar until smooth. Don’t be tempted to add milk—it will take a few minutes, but the mixture will blend up perfectly!
Spread that creamy layer evenly on top of the crust.
Slice the bananas.
Layer them on top of the cream cheese mixture.
Drain the pineapple.
And add it on top of the banana slices.
Sprinkle about 2/3 to 3/4 of the nuts on top of the pineapple.
Rinse, hull, and slice the strawberries.
Spread them evenly on top of the pineapple/nut layer.
Whip the cream and sweeten it to taste. (I use 2 teaspoons powdered sugar and 1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract per 1/2 cup of cream to sweeten and flavor it.) For this recipe, instead of 1 cup cream, I used 1 1/2 cups just to make sure there was enough; I thought it ended up being the perfect amount!
Spread the whipped cream on top of the strawberries (or pipe it on top if you’re using Mason jars).
Then sprinkle on the halved maraschino cherries and the rest of the nuts.
Doesn’t that look fun?! I don’t know anyone who wouldn’t want to dive right in. Since this treat has such a short bake time (just for the crust), it’s served chilled, and it’s a bit lighter than a normal cake, I think it’s the perfect dessert for warmer months. And it was a huge hit at my dad’s birthday party—I had two people ask me for the recipe!
Don’t forget, you can also make it in individual Mason jars!
A sweet childhood treat layered in mason jars.
In a medium bowl, combine the melted butter and graham crackers crumbs. Press the mixture into the bottom of your baking dish (see note below). Bake at 350ºF for 7–10 minutes, then place in the freezer to chill and set for about 10 minutes.
Beat the cream cheese, softened butter and powdered sugar until creamy, about 5 minutes. Spread the cream cheese mixture over the cooled graham cracker crust. Add a layer of sliced bananas over the cream cheese mixture. Drain the pineapple and spread evenly over the bananas. Sprinkle some of the nuts over the pineapple, then add a layer of sliced strawberries.
In a cold bowl, with cold beaters, whip the cream on high until soft peaks form, about 5 minutes. Sweeten your whipped cream to taste. Spread the whipped cream over everything.
Garnish with more nuts and the cherry halves. Refrigerate at least 4 hours before serving. Enjoy!
Notes: This dessert is normally made in a 9 x 13 baking dish. If you want to make this dessert in mason jars as I did, follow the same directions, but divide each of the layers between your jars. When baking the crust, place the jars on a baking sheet and bake as usual. Also, if your strawberries are not very sweet, you may toss them with a little sugar to sweeten them.
- 1 stick Butter, Melted
- 2 cups Graham Cracker Crumbs
- 8 ounces, weight Package Cream Cheese, Softened
- ¼ cups Butter, Softened
- 3 cups Powdered Sugar
- 4 whole Bananas, Sliced
- 20 ounces, weight Can Crushed Pineapple, Drained
- 1 cup Chopped Pecans (or Walnuts)
- 1 quart Strawberries, Hulled And Sliced
- 1 cup Heavy Whipping Cream
- 9 ounces, weight Jar Maraschino Cherries, Drained And Halved
Faith Gorsky is the writer, recipe developer, photographer, and food stylist behind the blog An Edible Mosaic. She lives in Upstate New York and loves to travel, especially to places steeped in rich culture and history. She also enjoys reading, vintage shopping, watching movies, and is enamored with ancient cultures. She just released her first cookbook, “An Edible Mosaic: Middle Eastern Fare with Extraordinary Flair” (Tuttle Publishing), a collection of authentic Middle Eastern recipes handed down to her from her husband’s family.