Heavenly Meringue Topped Old-Fashioned Banana Pudding

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

Ingredients:

  • 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)

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Whisk together the 1/2 cup sugar, flour and salt in the top of a double boiler pan.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.

http://www.teresablackburnfoodstyling.com

Ice Cream Dreams

Last Friday it was 98 degrees in the shade and the job was to shoot some real ice cream dessert shots.

My part of the shoot was to dream up some ideas as long as they were ice cream-like. I wanted the flavor profiles to be a little outside the box while using familiar ingredients with a bit of a twist. I wanted interesting textures and a refreshing look.

My Ice Cream Dream #1   “Peach & Raspberry Buttermilk Ice Cream served with Ines Rosales Crackers Drizzled with Chocolate Sauce”

 Ice Cream Ingredients:

3 cups good quality buttermilk

1/2 cup turbinado or raw sugar

1 generous TBSP Balsamic Vinegar (I used a Mango flavored Balsamic Vinegar. But any of the fruit flavored ones on the market would be equally delicious or just plain Balsamic.)

1 tsp vanilla extract

2 cups fresh, ripe peaches, peeled  & cut into small chunks

1 cup fresh raspberries

Directions:

1. Prep ice cream freezer as per instructions for your particular freezer. I use a Cuisinart electric freezer that works so beautifully every time.

2. Pour cold buttermilk into a bowl & sprinkle sugar over the surface. Let it sit until sugar has melted about 5-7 minutes. Stir mixture together. Add balsamic vinegar & vanilla extract & blend well. Taste for sweetness. If desired you can add a bit more sugar to suit your taste.

3.  Pour chilled mixture into the freezer bowl and freeze mixture until it is soft-frozen according to freezer instructions. At this point add in the chopped peaches and whole raspberries.  When mixture is frozen, cover and place in refrigerator freezer until ready to serve.

Other ingredients to complete dessert:

A package of Ines Rosales crackers (Whole Foods). (If you cannot find these then use Matzoh crackers that you have brushed with honey & sprinkled with sugar.)

A good quality dark chocolate syrup

Additional raspberries for garnish

To Assemble Dessert:

Place one Ines Rosales on each serving plate. Top with a generous scoop of Peach & Raspberry Buttermilk Ice Cream. Top with another Ines Rosales. Drizzle chocolate syrup over top and garnish with a scatter of raspberries. The crispy, salty, sweetness of these crackers were perfect with the very slightly balsamic flavored Peach Ice Cream and the hint of dark chocolate.

My Ice Cream Dream #2   “Benton Bacon Sugar Cookie Chocolate Ice Cream Sandwich”

I found the Benton Bacon Sugar Cookies last week at the wonderful little grocery in The Gulch “The Turnip Truck”. I was intrigued enough to bring a package home to couple with  dark chocolate ice cream to create an unusually fantastic ice cream sandwich.

Note: if you cannot find these same cookies you can easily make your own by adding some cooked, chopped Benton Bacon pieces to your favorite sugar cookie dough recipe.

Once again this coupling of salt, crunch and creamy cold was a very fine treat.

To Do: Sandwich a scoop of dark chocolate ice cream between two cookies. Place in freezer wrapped in waxed paper until ready to eat.

My Ice Cream Dream #3   “Frozen Banana Peanut Butter Ice Cream Sundae”

I recently ran across this easy one ingredient ice cream idea so it is in no way my original idea. I found it at instructables.com. Of course I gilded the lily somewhat.

Ingredient list:

4-6 ripe, with lots of brown spots, bananas, peeled, cut into chunks and frozen

large bakery or homemade chocolate chip cookies

peanut butter

chocolate sprinkles

Sea Salt

Directions for ice cream:

1. Place frozen bananas into a food processor and process until bananas become the consistency of ice cream. You might have to scrape down sides of processor during this part. Mixture should be “scoop-able”. That’s it.

2. Melt peanut butter in microwave until it is can be poured.

To Serve:

Place a cookie on plate, top with a scoop of the banana ice cream, add a drizzle of the peanut butter, add chocolate sprinkles and sea salt flakes over the top and serve.

Be Sweet, Stay Cool.