Then a few months ago, we picked up take out for dinner from a local BBQ shack. On a whim, I ordered a banana pudding for the four of us to share. And we all proceeded to fight over it.
A few weeks later was Father's Day, and I made banana pudding for Nico for dessert. (I also made some killer ribs and baked potatoes with corn butter, which I have yet to blog and that is unfortunate.) Since it was only the four of us, I didn't go the classic route of layering the banana pudding in a casserole dish. I made a small amount of pudding and layered all the players in individual servings. It worked out fine, and the layers really did begin to meld together. But I do want to make this one of these days in one dish. Maybe for a big party. I don't even know what we would do with that much banana pudding. (Actually, I do know. We'd eat it. So that's why I don't do it now.)
The best description I read about banana pudding when I was researching how I wanted to make it was that banana pudding is a geology. The longer the layers sit, the more they press together. I let ours sit for about 4 hours before dinner, but there was one dish that sat overnight and it was the best.
You could make this with instant vanilla pudding, and I guess many people do. But I thought this would be best with home made vanilla pudding. I'm not a fan of buying any processed, packaged or instant food I can make myself with relative ease. It will always taste better and will be void of any controversial ingredients and preservatives. This vanilla pudding may not have been that classic yellow color, but tasted like vanilla (and bananas) instead of additives.
vanilla pudding recipe courtesy of smitten kitchen, which I halved
2 2/3 cup whole milk, divided
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon salt
seeds from 1/2 vanilla bean
1 large egg
2 large bananas, sliced
vanilla wafers (or Pepperidge Farm Chessman cookies)
To make the vanilla pudding:
Bring 2 cups of the milk to a boil in a medium saucepan. While its heating, combine the sugar, cornstarch, salt and vanilla bean in a medium heat proof bowl. (Smitten Kitchen suggested throwing the remnants of the vanilla bean pod in with the simmering milk, to infuse more vanilla flavor and that is what I did.) Gradually whisk in the remaining 2/3 cup milk, and slowly so that lumps do not form. Then whisk in the egg. Once the milk is boiling, (remove the vanilla pod and) very gradually add it to the cornstarch mixture, whisking the entire time.
Return the whole mixture back to the saucepan and stir constantly with a silicon spatual or wooden spoon. Once it comes to a simmer, cook for one minute longer, which will cook the cornstarch and egg completely. (If you do not have vanilla bean pods, you can use vanilla extract instead and add it at this stage of the cooking process.)
Pour into a bowl or dish, cover completely with plastic wrap, then chill in the refrigerator for no less than 2 hours.
To assemble the banana pudding:
Once chilled, you can begin to assemble the banana pudding. If you are going to layer the pudding in one dish, you'll need transfer half the pudding to a new container. The layers will begin and end with pudding. Add a layer of pudding, a layer of sliced bananas, a layer of wafers, followed by another layer of vanilla pudding. Add a layer of whipped cream, if desired. Decorate the top with more banana slices and wafers if desired.