Living much of my life in North Carolina, I thought I knew banana pudding. Then I met my husband, who promptly informed me I was wrong.
Some people have strong feelings about potato salad. In other cases, macaroni and cheese can become controversial. What is considered barbecue in what state could be sacrilege in another. For my husband, that food is banana pudding. (For me, it is spaghetti sauce, but we will save that for another day.)
The delight that is boxed pudding, layered with overripe bananas, vanilla wafers and whipped topping on top? Do not even try. Perhaps you whip fresh cream to add a little touch of homemade. Do not feed him that. Feelings will be hurt. Not that he thinks they are bad, per se, but they are not like what Nana makes.
Back in the early days of our marriage I scoured the internet looking for a banana pudding recipe. I would show them to him, but without meringue, they were nothing. This perplexed me. Meringue on pudding? Never heard of it. So I decided to wait until we met up with Nana to learn from the master.
What was the secret recipe? TEACH ME YOUR WAYS NANA BECAUSE THIS MAN HAS SOME FEELINGS. Turns out, she just uses the recipe on the Nilla wafer box. The one place I failed to look. We made the pudding together, she gave me her tips, and the pudding went into the fridge.
I could see why my husband was sometimes disappointed when presented with another version of pudding. The homemade custard was satiny smooth. The Nilla wafers becoming almost chewy, reminiscent of the perfect texture formed when a chocolate chip cookie is dipped in milk before eaten. The bananas, giving the pudding the slightest essence of banana, verses the sometimes over the top BANANA flavor artificially flavored puddings sometimes produce. Topping it all, was the fluffy meringue, a light contrast to the decadence that was hidden underneath.
I was converted. In our house, this will be banana pudding.
So grab some bananas, some wafers and give it a go. Don’t be intimidated by the mention of a double boiler, I make it in a saucepan over medium low heat. Just like Nana’s.
This post is in no way, shape or form sponsored by Nabisco/Mondelez/ Nilla Wafers. It’s just what we use!
Real Deal Banana Pudding
Luxurious vanilla custard layered with ripe bananas and Nilla wafers. Topped with lighter-than-air meringue, perfect for any barbecue.
Recipe originally from the side of the Nilla Wafer box but you can also find it here.
-1/2 cup granulated sugar+ 1/4 cup granulated sugar
-1/3 cup all purpose flour
-dash of salt
-3 eggs, separated
-2 cups milk
-splash of vanilla (they call for 1/2 tsp, I just pour until it looks good, I would say I am closer to 1 teaspoon)
-1 box vanilla wafer cookies (the original recipe calls for 45. Between snacking while cooking, and the fact that the cookies are my favorite part, I tend to use the entire box.)
-5 VERY ripe bananas
- Pre-heat your oven to 350° F.
- In a medium saucepan, whisk together 1/2 cup sugar, the flour and a dash of salt. Then add your egg yolks and milk. Stir slowly over medium low heat, until it just begins to thicken. This can take a while, I have never had the custard come together in less than 20 minutes. As soon as you feel the custard begin to thicken, remove from heat and gently stir to continue thickening.
- Ideally, I like to use a 9×9 glass dish, but you can use whatever you have handy. 9×13 is doable, but would result in a thinner pudding. In the photo’s above I used a 9×13, and the meringue is not as thick as I would like. In your chosen dish, place one layer of vanilla cookies. On top of this, a layer of thinly sliced bananas. Be generous. Repeat until bananas are all gone.
- Pour warm custard over cookie-banana layers, using a spatula to ensure it is evenly distributed.
- In a mixing bowl, add three egg whites. Whip using a whisk, or whisk attachment on a mixer, until soft peaks form. Add the remaining sugar, and then whip until hard peaks form when you gently pull the whisk from the meringue.
- Spread meringue on top of the pudding, pushing the meringue to the edges.
- Bake until the top of the meringue is browned to your liking.
- Place finished pudding in the fridge for at least 6 hours, ideally overnight.