Let’s talk about Banana Pudding. The real deal, not what I seem to be encountering recently. The Southern iconic dessert I grew up eating in West Tennessee, made by both my Grandmother and Mother, started with a homemade vanilla custard pudding layered with vanilla wafer cookies and lots of bananas, topped with peaks of meringue baked until golden brown and is my absolute favorite dessert.
How and when banana pudding recipes took a wrong turn I cannot say, but they did so, along with homemade fudge and biscuits. The list could go on and on, but that is for another day.
Often what is called banana pudding is made with store-bought custard or pudding mixed with a pre-made whipped topping, a scant representation of wafer cookies and bananas added to the mix and topped with additional whipped topping. Not whipped cream, but whipped topping. This is not banana pudding, this is a dessert made with bananas and some fake stuff.
This recipe for banana pudding is so easy you may not even have to go to the grocery except to buy the vanilla wafers and bananas! The rest is just basic pantry ingredients.
I use “Nilla Vanilla Wafers”, ripe, but not over ripe, bananas, egg yolks for the pudding and the whites for the topping. The pudding takes only minutes to thicken and the meringue takes even less time to whip. From start to finish you will spend about 30 minutes to create this heavenly delicious dessert.
A generous portion of all the ingredients layered in a deep dish….
….egg whites, vanilla extract and sugar whipped together until the meringue “holds a peak” and is piled on top, ready for the oven.
Golden browned meringue to die for. Eat it warm from the oven or chilled. Heavenly good.
Heavenly Meringue Topped Old Fashioned Banana Pudding
- 1/2 cup sugar for pudding + 1/4 cup sugar for the meringue
- 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
- pinch of salt
- 4 eggs, separated
- 2 cups whole milk
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract, divided
- 5-6 ripe bananas, sliced
- 1 box vanilla wafer cookies (you will need about 30-40 depending on your baking dish shape)
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Whisk together the 1/2 cup sugar, flour and salt in the top of a double boiler pan.
- Whisk in the milk and egg yolks. Turn heat to medium high. Cook over boiling water, whisking constantly for about 10-12 minutes or until custard pudding has thickened. Remove from heat and stir in 1 teaspoon vanilla extract.
- Beginning with a layer of pudding on the bottom of the baking dish, add a layer of wafer cookies and then a layer of sliced bananas. Repeat layering until your dish is filled, finishing with a layer of pudding. How many layers will depend on shape and size of dish you use. I used a 2 quart deep casserole dish.
- In a stand mixer, or using a hand mixer, beat the egg whites on high speed until soft peaks form. With mixer running, slowly add in 1/4 cup sugar and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, beating the meringue hold a stiff peak. This takes about 5-7 minutes.
- Top banana pudding with all the meringue, creating “meringue peaks” with the back of a spoon and “sealing” the meringue to the edges of the filling. Bake for about 12-15 minutes or until meringue is golden browned. Remove from oven and cool on a wire rack. Serve warm, at room temp or chilled. Keeps a few days in the refrigerator.
Based on the basic recipe on the side of the box of Nabisco Nilla Wafer cookies sold everywhere.