Banana Pudding and Homemade “Nilla” Wafers

I’ve never been a big fan of banana pudding. Not that I don’t like it, it’s just not something I ever had a big taste for. That all changed a few years ago when I set foot in a BBQ place called Baby Blues in San Francisco. The first time we went there was on our wedding anniversary. I know, I know, not exactly romantic-but we went for the great food. We let it slip to the waitress that it was our anniversary and the next thing you know she was coming out with this banana pudding with a candle in it. I was pretty full from the amazing ribs we had shared, but I figured okay-it’s our anniversary and the pudding is FREE, so we have to eat it, right?

I figured one ceremonious bite and I would call it good.  One spoonful of that luscious, sweet, intensely banana flavored pudding and I was hooked.

The Husband took a bite.

He looked at me and just stared for a second and didn’t say a word, and then he dove back into the bowl with the spoon.

We went back and forth like this until that entire bowl was bare.  Without a word.  You know when something is supremely good because it gets REALLY quiet.

I swear, had I been home alone with that pudding I would have licked the bowl. It was THAT good. Ever since that day I vowed to come up with a banana pudding to do it justice. This is it. Note: you can certainly use store bought Nilla wafers in place of homemade. Enjoy.

Banana Pudding

Banana Pudding 2

Nilla wafers

Banana Pudding

2  1/2 Cups whole milk

2 very ripe bananas

1/2 Cup sugar

pinch of salt

3 Tbsp. cornstarch

2 egg yolks

1  1/2 tsp. vanilla

1 Tbsp. unsalted butter

For Assembling:

Homemade vanilla wafers *(recipe below)

3 ripe (but not overripe) bananas

1/2 lemon

1 Cup heavy whipping cream

2 Tbsp. confectioners sugar

garnishes* (optional): salted chopped peanuts, chocolate shavings, vanilla wafers

Pudding:

1. Place the milk in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Turn off the heat and add the two “very ripe” bananas and let stand to steep for 1.5 hours.

2. In a blender place the steeped milk, yolks, sugar, cornstarch, and salt and blend to combine about 30 seconds until smooth.

3. In a medium saucepan over medium-low heat, pour the contents of the blender and whisk continuously until pudding becomes thick. Once pudding starts to thicken- whisk vigorously and continue to cook for about another 30 seconds. Total cook time will be about 5-7 minutes. Pull off the heat and whisk in the vanilla and the butter until all of butter is melted. Pour into a heat proof bowl and cover with plastic wrap directly onto the pudding. Chill pudding in fridge until cold.

Homemade “Nilla” Vanilla Wafers

1/2 Cup unsalted butter, softened

1/2 Cup granulated sugar

1  1/2 Tbsp. brown sugar

1 Tbsp. milk

1  1/2 tsp. vanilla bean paste (or seeds of one vanilla bean)

1  1/3 Cup all-purpose flour

1/2 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. baking powder

1. Preheat the oven to 325° F. In a large bowl cream the butter and sugars. Add the milk and vanilla and stir to combine. Sift together the dry ingredients and add to the bowl and stir until combined. Scoop out measured 1 tsp. of dough. Roll the dough into balls. Prepare a baking tray with parchment paper. Flatten the balls of dough into 3/16 inch (1/4 cm) thickness. Bake for about 7-8 minutes until the cookies appear golden brown around the edges. Cool completely on a wire rack. The cookies will be about the size of a quarter.

Assembling Puddings:

1. Whip 1 Cup heavy cream and the 2 Tbsp. confectioners sugar until medium stiff peaks form (be cautious not to overwhip the cream). Set aside and keep cold for assembly.

2. Cut bananas into slices and toss with 2-3 teaspoons of lemon juice in a small bowl; just enough to coat the bananas so they don’t turn dark.

3. Use small dessert glasses, crumble 2-3 cookies in bottom of each glass. Top with a layer of banana pudding, then sliced bananas, then whipped cream. Repeat layering until desired (depending on size of glasses). Top with a swirl of whip cream and top with salted peanuts, salted caramel drizzle or shaved chocolate if desired. Serve cold. Note: you can layer this as one big dessert in a bowl if you like instead of individual parfaits.

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