Banana Pudding…just those two words conjure up good memories and good flavor. Southerners are known for having a Sweet Tooth anyway; our desserts, cakes, pies, candies and puddings are iconic, like Banana Pudding. However, we don’t always agree on the method, the ingredients or even the temperature of a good Banana Pudding. Purists insist that a vanilla custard must be made from scratch, that the bananas must be slightly ripe, there must be a meringue topping and it should be baked and served hot. Some believe only bananas must be in the pudding, some add pineapple and for others adding pineapple is a near mortal sin. For years in my own household, one family member never took a bite without saying, ‘You didn’t put pineapple in this, did you?’ Well, I never did- however, I do recognize that adding pineapple is an Ah-quI’rd Taste! My mother made wonderful traditional Banana Puddings with cooked custards, I loved watching her layer it up, and then topping it off with the meringue- I always said- ‘Add more peaks!’ because those tips would brown and taste oh so good! My grandmother’s sister, our Aunt Mary Sue made wonderful Banana Puddings, however- I could never duplicate her recipe. As my skills became better, I could make a decent custard yet I still returned to a recipe from a double third cousin on my momma’s side of the family. I don’t take many shortcuts in cooking…but that recipe has the superior advantage- it uses Sweetened Condensed Milk, which adds the cooked flavor of a real custard. Also, this Banana Pudding is not baked, and let’s face it- when the weather is stifling- who wants to stand over a hot stove! I have tweaked that Banana Pudding recipe several times…and even added one tweak to it just for all of you Meringue lovers!
Camellia’s Cottage Banana Pudding
- 1 small box of Vanilla Instant Pudding Mix (4 serving size)
- 1 small box of Banana Instant Pudding Mix (4 serving size) Empty these mixes into a deep mixing bowl and whisk the two flavors together
- In a quart glass liquid measure- Mix 1- 5 oz. can of Evaporated Milk with 1-14 oz. can of Sweetened Condensed Milk, add enough whole milk (19 oz.) to make 4 cups of liquid. This combination gives the pudding mix a true cooked custard flavor!
- Carefully pour the liquid into the pudding mixes, then whisk for at least 3-4 minutes until thick and smooth.
- Let the mixture rest 4-5 minutes in the refrigerator.
Assembling the Banana Pudding:
In a large bowl, arrange vanilla wafers on the bottom and up the side one layer. Add enough Custard mixture to cover the vanilla wafers generously. Cut a Banana in slices to cover the Custard, layer with more vanilla wafers, then generously cover the banana slices and wafers with more of the Custard pressing firmly. *This is important, if you create enough thickness with the mixture, then gently press out the air pockets, the banana slices will not become brown or soften as quickly.
If you have enough Custard mixture left, do another layer of vanilla wafers and end with Custard. (do not add more bananas to the last layer) *If you want more bananas, slice them when served. Now cover with plastic wrap, which touches the Custard so that it won’t dry out. Chill for several hours. This Banana Pudding makes 8-10 generous servings.
To gild the lily, I made individual Meringues to top each portion! Use your favorite meringue recipe- reduce the sugar by 1/4 cup. I add a pinch of salt to my meringue mixture. Whip the egg white/ cream of tartar/sugar mixture until almost stiff peaks- add 1/4 cup of Marshmallow Crème and finish whipping. *Here are a few tips for making Meringues for a topping for pies, tarts and banana pudding- the Marshmallow Crème was added to the meringue mixture and created a soft chewy center, though regular meringues would be just as good! Bake meringues on plain dry parchment paper. Most folks bake meringues; then leave them in the oven overnight- this isn’t really necessary, instead- put meringues in a cold oven as it heats up to 250 degrees- bake for one hour. The meringues should be creamy in color and not too brown. Turn off the oven, and leave for 1-2 hours. Remove from oven and cool completely. Pull the Meringues off the parchment paper and finish cooling on a wire rack. Serve with Camellia’s Cottage Banana Pudding! I hope you enjoy our Banana Pudding ; I rarely make use of prepared mixes, but in this case it truly does taste homemade. It’s worked now for 3 generations, so it’s tried and true!
Love y’all, Camellia
* Name brands of the ingredients I used are clearly displayed but this is not a paid advertisement for any particular brand, as always- use the best ingredients you can find; it does make a difference in the final outcome.