Banana Pudding pairs a creamy smooth vanilla pudding with chunks of sweet banana
and crunchy vanilla wafers. Some like
to layer this dessert, like an English Trifle, so you can see the separate
layers of pudding, banana slices, and vanilla wafers. Others like to just mix
everything together in one big bowl. History seems to
suggest that Banana Pudding originated in the Southern States where it is still
very popular. So popular, in fact, that It is not uncommon to walk into a
grocery store and find boxes of vanilla wafers and instant vanilla
pudding mixes alongside the bananas. Southerners often like to top their Banana
Pudding with a meringue, but I am partial to a dollop of softly whipped cream.
Now, we are going to make this
Banana Pudding from scratch, which means homemade
vanilla pudding. A vanilla pudding is
really a 'cooked' custard. There
is only one real difference between a pudding and a custard and that is
cornstarch. Cornstarch is added to a cooked pudding so it
becomes thick enough to eat with a spoon. The important thing is that they
have to be cooked carefully as we do not want lumps or even worse,
scorching. So keep the heat fairly low and use a heavy bottomed saucepan,
making sure that you stir constantly with a large heatproof rubber
spatula. When stirring it is important to reach the bottom, sides, and
corners of the saucepan to prevent the pudding from sticking and
scorching. Once the pudding has become thick, like mayonnaise, remove it
from the heat and add the butter and vanilla extract.
Once the vanilla pudding has cooled to room
temperature, we can make our Banana Pudding. Slice the bananas and break the vanilla
wafers into bite sized pieces. As I said above, you can layer the ingredients (like a
trifle) or simply mix everything together in a large bowl. Add as much
banana and vanilla wafers as you like.
I like to make the Banana Pudding just before serving. That way the
vanilla wafers stay nice and crisp. But if you like, you can cover and
refrigerate the Banana Pudding, so the vanilla wafers soften and start to
break down. I love to garnish the pudding with a dollop of whipped cream.
Lastly, if you would like to try a different version of Banana Pudding,
replace the Vanilla Pudding with Butterscotch Pudding.
Banana Pudding: In a large
stainless steel (or heatproof) bowl whisk together 1/3 cup (65 grams) granulated
cornstarch, salt, eggs, and egg yolk. Whisk in 1/2 cup (120 ml/grams) of the milk. Set aside while you heat the
rest of the milk and sugar. Have
ready a fine medium-sized strainer and bowl as you will need
to strain the pudding after it is cooked.
First, rinse a
medium-sized heavy saucepan with cold water and then shake out the excess water.
Doing this step prevents the milk from scorching. Then pour the remaining 3 cups (720 ml) of milk,
along with the remaining 1/4 cup (50 grams) of granulated white sugar, into the saucepan and bring just to a
boil. Gradually pour the hot milk into the egg mixture, whisking constantly,
until the mixture is smooth. Transfer the pudding mixture to a clean large,
heavy bottomed saucepan and place over medium heat. Cook
over medium heat until boiling, whisking constantly. When it boils, reduce heat
to medium low, and cook, whisking the mixture constantly, for another 3 to 5
minutes or until it becomes thick (consistency
of mayonnaise). Remove from heat and whisk in
the butter and vanilla extract. If your pudding has any lumps, pour
through the strainer.
Cover and place in the refrigerator to chill for an hour or two (or even
Trifles: Take 8 small bowls or glasses (depending on size) and place a few
vanilla wafers in the bottom of each trifle glass. Spoon a little of the vanilla
pudding over the cookies. Peel and slice the bananas and place a layer of
bananas over the pudding in each bowl. Place another layer of pudding and
bananas, then finish off with a layer of pudding. Garnish each pudding with
dollops of softly whipped cream, whole vanilla wafers, slices of banana, and
maybe some chocolate shavings or chopped pecans. Can serve immediately or cover
and refrigerate (but the vanilla wafers will soften) until serving.
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