We had some ripe bananas on the kitchen table yesterday, and my daughter asked what we could make with them besides banana bread. When I mentioned banana pudding, everyone perked up. “Everyone” includes my daughter, my mother and me. We have all been together here in Vermont at my mother’s home for the last several weeks. My mom is in her 90’s, and came originally from Mississippi…Tupelo, to be exact. I can remember some of the southern specialties that we enjoyed in Tupelo, when we visited our family there. There is nothing yummier than a bowl of velvety banana pudding, with softened vanilla wafers layered between ripe bananas and soothing vanilla custard.
Banana Pudding does not require any fancy ingredients. Ripe bananas, a box of Vanilla Wafers, some vanilla custard or pudding, and whipped cream. There are recipes for Banana Pudding that call for merengue on top…and I’ll bet that’s really good…but requires heating the oven. I asked the native Mississippian-turned-Vermonter which topping she would prefer, and her choice was whipped cream. Easy.
There is a recipe on the box of Nabisco Nilla Wafers for Easy Southern Banana Pudding that uses instant pudding and a tub of whipped topping. This is the ultimate easy way, but I would rather make real, homemade vanilla custard. It doesn’t take very long and is sooo much better. There are lots of recipes online…some use whole milk, some use flour for thickening and others use corn starch. I picked a recipe with lots of vanilla…lots of flavor in that custard! Here’s the one I used: Southern Banana Pudding Recipe with Made From Scratch Pudding/Custard. Next time I would use 2/3 cup sugar instead of a full cup….a little less sweet.
Once the custard has cooled for several hours, just layer the vanilla wafers, bananas and custard in a bowl or oblong cake pan. Finish with a thicker layer of custard on top, and put the Banana Pudding into the refrigerator. When you’re ready to serve, add whipped cream on top for a pretty presentation.
Part of the joy of Banana Pudding is the anticipation….the making of the custard, waiting for it to cool, and then putting the pieces together in a beautiful glass bowl. Children love to take turns placing the cookies into the pudding, then let mom or older siblings add the sliced bananas and spread that creamy custard with a spatula on top of each layer. Delicious memories.