Time for banana pudding

I had never had banana pudding before.  It's a little hard to believe since banana pudding is such a classic American dessert.  But since there is such a long list of things I've never eaten, it doesn't really come as a huge surprise either.  Regardless of the circumstances, it was time for banana pudding.
I like to unwind at night by watching cooking shows (and snacking).  A show I've taken to recording is The Chew and one of the co-hosts, Daphne Oz, loves banana pudding.  It seems to come up all the time and that got me thinking about it and realizing I've never tasted banana pudding before.  I asked my husband, who has had it, to describe it but he wasn't able to explain it to me as fully as I like. That made me all the more curious so I figured I'd just have to whip up a couple of banana pudding parfaits one day so I could give it a try for myself.

I was a little surprised that banana pudding isn't banana pudding, as in banana-flavored pudding in itself.  I did find a couple of recipes that incorporated caramelized bananas into the pudding but those seemed to be your more "gourmet" variety and not typical of classic banana pudding recipes. After tasting it, I can see why just plain vanilla pudding is all you really need. I'm not sure why I wasn't expecting it but I was somewhat surprised by how much flavor the sliced bananas infused into everything.  It literally became banana-pudding when the plain pudding merged with the fresh bananas.  No wonder my husband always thought it was "banana pudding", not vanilla pudding plus bananas!
This taste-test came together pretty easily last week.  I'm sure you can relate to this...once in a while, I crave some particular store-bought cookies or crackers, usually something I remember fondly eating as a child.  Not long ago, it was Nilla wafers.  Just a few seems to satisfy my craving for a long time so I had plenty to spare.  With that, my first taste of banana pudding was on hand.

I can't help but think banana pudding is similar to icebox cake.  The pudding softens those vanilla wafer cookies and become this soft cake layer, nestled among the creamy vanilla pudding and sliced bananas that somehow turns the whole thing into banana pudding.  My husband, who is the banana pudding expert by default in our house, really enjoyed my experiment.  It brought him back to his childhood and eating banana puddings made by his friends' parents.  For me, I love tasting something new to me - a classic that's familiar and nostalgic to so many others.  I may still be a lot more likely to reach for the chocolate pudding but now I know what the love of banana pudding is all about!


I picked a simple recipe for my first banana pudding endeavor.  These parfaits were very easy to put together since all it really takes is a few minutes at the stove-top making the pudding.
Then the fun is in layering.  A layer of pudding, some Nilla wafers, sliced bananas, more pudding, etc. I made two parfaits and used whole wafers in the wider glass and crushed the cookies coarsely in the smaller parfait.  Either way works since the wafers eventually soften nestled within the pudding.
End the last layer of the parfait with pudding and cover the bananas fully to prevent discoloration. Some people top their banana pudding with meringue - a nice way to use up the egg whites you have left over after making the pudding.  I went with some softly whipped cream, sweetened with just a touch of sugar...I thought my husband would like that.
I love a make-ahead dessert like this one that goes in the fridge, getting a little better as it sits.  And I just adore a good parfait, with layers of flavors and textures that meld together; they're not overly fussy and usually pretty to look at.
Well, banana pudding: I'm glad I finally tasted you!


Recipe:

Banana Pudding Parfaits
Adapted from Martha Stewart

- Makes approximately three 8-ounce parfaits (yield depends on size of container you use) - 

Scant 1/3 cup sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups whole milk
2 large egg yolks
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, cut into a few small pieces
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 large ripe bananas
20 (or so) vanilla-flavored cookies such as Nilla wafers
Optional: Lightly sweetened whipped cream, extra wafers, and/or bananas for garnish

Set a bowl, along with a fine-mesh sieve nearby.  In a small saucepan, off heat, whisk together the sugar, cornstarch, and salt.  Gradually whisk in the milk, a few tablespoons at a time, making sure to dissolve the cornstarch and make a smooth mixture.  Whisk in the egg yolks.

Place saucepan over medium heat and cook, whisking constantly, until the first large bubble forms and the mixture thickens.  This change happens rather suddenly so keep a close eye on it.   Reduce heat to low; whisking constantly, cook for 1 more minute.  Remove pan from heat, and pour pudding through sieve into the bowl.  Stir butter and vanilla into the hot pudding.  Let cool slightly.  Slice banana (you don't want to cut the banana too far in advance).

In three 8-ounce glasses (or whatever size container you choose to use), alternately layer warm pudding with cookies then bananas, ending with pudding and covering bananas completely to prevent discoloration.  Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until set, at least 1 hour, or up to 2 days.

Right before serving, top parfait with whipped cream, cookies and/or sliced bananas.




58 comments:

  1. Ugh, I'm allergic to bananas, but I crave them so much! This looks so delicious and I know it's a classic comfort dessert.

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    1. So sorry you are allergic. I'm a little worried about developing an allergy to foods I love - it seems to happen out of no where sometimes. I love bananas and have one almost everyday as a snack unless it's in a dessert. : )

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  2. Welcome to the world of banana pudding! I have such great memories and eating SO MUCH of this growing up... you're making me want to have it again!! :)

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    1. haha - thank you! It is really nostalgic for some, I'm sure!

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  3. I am so tempted to make this. I love Nilla wafers and custard so I should try this soon.

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    1. It's really easy to put together and this recipe doesn't make a huge amount so maybe you can give it a try one day. : )

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  4. Oh, I love banana pudding! Looks delicious!

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    1. Now I see where the banana pudding love comes from for so many.

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  5. I always pin any desserts with bananas. Thanks for sharing!

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    1. Hi Mariana - thanks for the comment! I didn't realize how great banana desserts are until I became an adult...so I've been making up for lost time!

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  6. This looks so good Monica! I love banana desserts and pudding parfait is always a nice treat :) Would love to try making this at home, it sounds delicious:)

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    1. It's really easy if you're ever in the mood. : ) Enjoy the rest of the week, Kelly!

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  7. Love how easy this one came together and make ahead desserts are always a must. I also have fond memories of Nilla wafers as a child so I know I would love them in your dessert. Take Care, BAM

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    1. Make-aheads and things with a longer shelf life are great. I do get a hankering for some Nilla wafers (or EL Fudge cookies, etc.) once in a while...cravings are actually non-stop, they just change! : )

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  8. Isn't it so good? I love the simplicity and the texture of banana pudding. I once made a version with Nutella, that was good, too :)

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    1. You slay me - Nutella!! Yum...it makes everything better so I'm sure I'd prefer that version!

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  9. I adore this! It is always time for banana pudding!

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  10. Being a southern girl myself, I am very proud of your beautiful banana puddings! Glad you liked it - and Nilla wafers are the best! Yum :)

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    1. Such a Southern classic, isn't it! I am missing out on a lot of tasty things, I'm sure.

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  11. What a beautiful dessert! Let's see if there are any bananas laying around somewhere! :) ela

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  12. A simple yet very beautiful dessert, Monica.

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    1. Thanks, Angie. These long winter days are spent cooking warming meals...simple desserts are handy.

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  13. This dessert looks wonderful Monica and it is the first I have heard of it. I think my family would love it - I'll have to give it a try. Best if all it can be prepared ahead! Thanks for sharing this recipe.

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    1. It's always interesting to hear about and taste different foods and I'm glad to introduce you to banana pudding. : ) Sorry I'm no expert but it's simple and worth a try to make!

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  14. I've never had banana pudding either - although I don't really like bananas so that kinda explains it for me : ) haha The only time I enjoy them is in banana bread! Weird, I know! But I do really want to try making pudding from scratch - that's also something I've never done!

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    1. Oh Ashley - puddings are so easy if you're into it. It's nothing compared to all the beautiful breads and rolls you make. It's just impossible to do everything since there is just SO much to learn and try.

      I don't think banana pudding is for you if you're not into bananas that much. It is a pow of banana! And I was never really into banana desserts but then I tasted good banana bread and my mind opened up. I do love to snack on bananas. : )

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  15. I love the layering you did with this pudding, especially those wafers.. yum! I just want to dig into this!

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    1. Layering a parfait is so much fun!

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  16. Oh, pretty damn good dessert!!!
    lovin banana all the way.....

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  17. I've actually never had banana pudding either! I'm a little bit picky about bananas, which is probably why. But I didn't realize the base was actually VANILLA pudding...so maybe I could learn to like it...

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    1. That's shocking, Joanne! But I suppose it's something more for serious banana lovers. I always thought it was banana-flavored pudding itself but no...vanilla! But it seriously becomes banana pudding once the banana slices get in there. Be warned because I'm not sure that's a good thing for everyone?

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  18. This sounds absolutely divine! I love the look of the texture...

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  19. I've never made a pudding before and you make it sound so easy. Will give it a try, I believe there is a banana or two in the house.

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    1. I grew up buying those packets of pudding myself...but it really is easy to make if you feel like it. With this, just watch and stir closely because it goes from loose to thick in a matter of seconds. It's nice and quick.

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  20. I looooveeee banana pudding! You are right. It is amazing that the banana flavors come through in the custard. Definitely for banana lovers! When I can't get banana pudding in my hands, I go for banana cream pie. They are pretty much the same, except one uses wafers and one uses pie crust. Oh, I want some now!

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    1. Glad you know what I mean! I tasted it and was like "woah, it IS banana pudding now!" haha. Great point about banana cream pie - no surprise...I've never had it (yet)!

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  21. Monica, my husband will definitely love this as he likes very much banana cream pie...and this is a twist of it...and much easier to make, therefore I am happy too!
    Thanks for the recipe and hope you are having a wonderful week :D

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    1. I love the sound and look of banana cream pie. So many good things created by smart people in this world. : ) Have a great week!

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  22. I grew up eating Banana Pudding! Soggy vanilla wafers are the best!

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    1. haha - love the way you described that! My husband loves when a crunchy cookie turns soft (or soggy, as you say)! : )

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  23. I've never ever eaten banana pudding :O I guess it's not popular over here...
    But oh wow, your version looks so delicious and I'm craving it right now. Those pudding soaked vanilla wafers sound delish :)

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    1. Here in the Southern part of the U.S., especially, it is a classic! I was glad to finally try it. Thanks for swinging by!

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  24. I love banana pudding!!! It's my favorite kind of pudding :)

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    1. You've been in on the secret then. ; )

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  25. Banana pudding always remind me of the dad. He loves this stuff! I haven't ever tried to make it myself, but now thanks to you and this easy recipe I can! Thanks :D

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    1. It's wonderful when a food brings something nice to mind! Glad you like this simple recipe. I'm all for simple and quick, too. : )

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  26. I am crazy about bananas and banana pudding. Every visit to NYC, I have to go to Magnolia bakery and eat it there.
    I have to make your version of it. Looks so good!

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    1. I didn't even know Magnolia has banana pudding! Glad o know you like it. It's really easy...hope you like this one if you give it a go.

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  27. Lovely banana pudding, Monica. :) It amazed me how many people commented that they had never eaten this. Maybe its an age thing. I think banana pudding is an "old fashioned" dessert that was possibly more common and popular some decades ago. But when a dessert tastes this good, it should never lose popularity!

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    1. It amazed me too...I've come to realize it's okay to admit and be upfront about all the things I've never tried because others really can relate! : ) I always figured I'd never had banana pudding because it's a Southern dessert...I don't see it anywhere on menus here. I've been curious and I can now check that off my list. It's satisfying to be able to do that! : )

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  28. Growing up, I always wanted to eat this but my mom never made any "American" desserts. Looking at your photos makes me feel nostalgic! I have got to try making this now, thanks for the reminder!

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    1. I never ate many desserts growing up either. My mom hardly ever made desserts except for a couple of dessert soups on rare occasions. I hope you give it a try!

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  29. banana pudding is truly one of those oddly magical american desserts that lots of us grew up eating, in one form or another. Our "banana pudding" was more like banana cream pie, where you layer just like you did, but in a pie pan,so it's basically a big mound of goodness that - with any luck - sets up in the fridge so you can cut it. you're right: very much like an icebox pie in the way that the cookies turn into cake-like things. happy you finally got a chance to try it!

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    1. I'm glad the mystery is solved for me on this one, too. It's so interesting to learn about different classics we may have grown up enjoying. My childhood desserts were so different!

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