Banana Pudding

Banana pudding is amazing.  Ever since I was a little tike, I've been crazy about that rich, flavorful dessert.  I pile up my plate whenever I hit the buffet as a kid, but hadn't enjoyed it recently.  When I was planning on making a dish to bring over to my friend's house for the 4th of July, I racked my brain trying to think of the perfect item.  It wasn't until the morning of that I was sitting in bed and it hit me...Banana Pudding is a classic dish of America.

There is what I found to be titled a "southern version" and a classic version. The southern variety is baked in the oven and has a meringue on top, while the other is made on the stove and has a whipped cream topping. I can't recall ever trying the meringue variety, though I have to say I love a baked meringue on top of a lemon meringue pie (that seems to be basically what that version is). My standard for banana pudding is whipped cream and of course, tons of wafers, so I opted for the classic kind.
I followed a stove top version of the recipe I found, making a few adjustments along to way to create the perfect banana pudding.

I used tapioca in the recipe after picking some up for use in Peach Cobbler.  It worked so well in the recipe, and I didn't even notice a change in texture.  Since this recipe called for cornstarch, I decided to change it out for tapioca as a thickener instead.  This time, I put the tapioca in my magic bullet for a few seconds to get some more finely ground granules.  I swapped the tapioca for the cornstarch in an even quantity based on multiple sources indicating to do so.


To get started on the pudding, I added the sugar, brown sugar, tapioca, and salt to a saucepan and set the heat to medium.


Next, I gradually added in the milk and heavy cream, whisking it in.  I increased the heat slightly, until it gently started to bubble, then let it simmer for several minutes until it began to thicken.  The original recipe was specific in that the mixture should not reach a full boil, just have some gentle bubbling.


Next, I tempered the eggs by pouring some of the heated milk and sugar in with the eggs.  I started with a couple spoonfuls, gradually adding more, then added about 1/3 of the mixture in with the eggs.  Once it was well combined, I poured the bowl back into the saucepan and brought the mixture to another soft boil, whisking constantly.  I let the mixture cook for 1 minute, then whisked in the butter, vanilla and hazelnut extracts, and cinnamon.


I was in a bit of a rush, so I put the pan in a pan filled with ice to cool it down quickly.


Meanwhile, I sliced some bananas and tossed them in lemon juice, then set them aside in a small bowl.


I made the whipped cream I used in the Blueberry Chocolate Torte by beating some heavy cream in my stand mixer.


I beat the cream for about 2 minutes, until it had thickened significantly, then stirred in the powdered sugar and vanilla.  I made more whipped cream than the original recipe called for, as I was layering it in the middle as well as spreading it over the top.  I love layers!


To put together the dish, I grabbed a nice serving bowl and put some pudding in the bottom.  I added a layer of vanilla wafers over the top, then added some of the sliced bananas.  I topped this layer off with a layer of whipped cream, then repeated the pudding, wafer, banana, and whipped cream layers until I had finished it all off.  I topped it off with a couple more wafers and bananas for decoration.


And a gorgeous dessert was ready to be served.


Ok, this one was amazing.  Not only did I have a beautiful dessert to bring to my friend's house, it tasted utterly fantastic, too.  This was so sweet and the wafers softened to just the right texture layered in the pudding.  The blended tapioca, though visible in some of the images, had no negative impact on texture.  I've been told cornstarch can alter the flavor in some dishes, and the tapioca hasn't done me wrong sofar!  It was interesting to learn that all the banana is in the layers of pudding; the pudding itself is vanilla.  I supposed I expected some mashed banana in there somewhere.  I ended up making this recipe twice before I even got this posted; it was so good I had to share more.  I am putting this one in my dessert list for life--this will be one I will make again and again, whenever I have an excuse.  Next time, I'll make the wafers, too!  Boxed pudding, I don't need you anymore.

Banana Pudding Recipe

Ingredients:

3 egg yolks
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
3 tablespoons tapioca, ground if desired
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
2 1/2 cups 1% milk
2 cups heavy cream
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup powdered sugar
3 to 4 ripe bananas
1 tablespoon lemon juice
About 50 vanilla wafers

For the whipped cream:
1 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Instructions:

Whisk eggs in a medium bowl.  In a saucepan, add the sugar, brown sugar, tapioca, and salt. Heat to medium, until the mixture starts to gently bubble, and simmer for 8 minutes, until mixture thickens. Gradually stir about half the milk mixture into the eggs to temper them, stirring until well combined. Pour eggs and milk into saucepan and heat to gentle boil again, stirring constantly. Cook for 1 minute. Remove from heat; whisk in butter, vanilla and almond extracts, and cinnamon. Set aside to cool. Cut bananas into slices about 1/2" thick, then toss in lemon juice. For the whipped cream topping, beat heavy cream for about 2 minutes, until. Stir in powdered sugar and vanilla extract. To put together the dish, scoop about 1/3 of the pudding into a serving dish.  Layer vanilla wafers over the top, then add some of the sliced bananas.  Add 1/3 of the whipped cream, then repeat the pudding, wafer, banana, and whipped cream layers until most of the ingredients are used up, setting aside a few wafers and banana slices for decorating the top.

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