Banana pudding is a southern dish that I used to make quite often when we were living in Charlottesville, VA. For one thing, I felt so conscientious for putting all those overripe bananas into something other than the trash. Yay me. Basically, this dessert is an old fashioned cooked pudding made with cornstarch, sugar, milk, egg yolks, vanilla and butter. The custard is poured over the cookies and bananas slices, topped with a meringue and baked for 10 minutes until golden. Sadly, delicious as this simple dish is to make, it doesn’t really last. After the first day, it gets horribly soggy in the refrigerator and tastes rather glooey and clumpy, so I try to make it when I know a grandchild and friends are making a visit so they can eat it all up.
Nevertheless, there are other reasons for making this dessert besides getting rid of overripe bananas: it calls for simple pantry ingredients; it makes a lovely presentation should you have to come up with a fancy dessert during the week; finally, it is not a bad choice for weight conscious folks who want lusciousness without high calories.
Since I moved to the tri-state area, I haven’t made this dish as often, probably because I can’t finish it in the one day timeframe unless I have visitors. Today I just longed to eat banana pudding, so I coaxed my granddaughter to come over for lunch, giving myself a reason to make it. I also made the pudding in a traditional way by topping it with a meringe. Usually I love topping it with homemade whipped cream, but I don’t admit that to my southern neighbors who might report me to “Southern Living Magazine.”
3 1/3 cups of vanilla wafers
2 large or 4 small bananas, sliced
1/2 cup sugar
2 level Tblsp cornstarch
1/4 tsp salt
2 and 1/4 cups milk (I use 2%)
4 large eggs, separated
2 Tblsp Butter
1 tsp vanilla extract (never use fake vanilla)
3 Tbsp sugar
Directions: Preheat the over to 375°
Whisk the cornstarch, sugar and salt together in a small bowl. Set aside. In a 2 qt heavy saucepan over medium heat, whisk together the milk and egg yolks. Whisk in the sugar cornstarch mixture. Constantly stirring, cook the custard until it thickens, about 6 to 8 minutes. When thickened, remove the custard from the heat. Stir in the butter and vanilla.
In a 9″ glass pyrex dish or cake pan, layer half the vanilla cookies on the bottom of the dish and then layer half the sliced bananas. Pour half the custard over them. Layer the rest of the cookies and the bananas over the first dessert layer and pour over the rest of the custard. Put the dish aside.
In a deep bowl place the four egg whites. Beat on high speef until soft peaks form. Continue beating on high speed while sprinkling in the three tablespoons of sugar until the mixture necomes a shiny thick meringue.Turn off the mixer. Clean off the beaters and place clinging meringue in the bowl with the rest of the meringue.
Pile the meringue on top of the custard pudding layer and using an offset spatula, spread the meringe until it covers the entire pudding from top to bottom and side to side. Place baking dish in the oven and bake for 10 minutes or until the top of the meringue is golden. Take out the pudding, place it on a rack and cool for 30 minutes.